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North Side Notes

Why I gave up my smartphone

Posted by Kyle Edwards on

This past Sunday after church I swung by a T-Mobile store and said that I wanted to downgrade to a dumb phone. My smart phone, a Samsung Galaxy 4 that I'd had for a couple of years, was becoming less and less reliable. The screen had been cracked since last summer, and it couldn't hold a charge for more than a few minutes of use.

The friendly T-Mobile employee had never heard of someone downgrading back to a flip phone after having a smart phone. But I was insistent. I left the store with the LG 450, which seems to have the exact same technology as existed back before I got my first smart phone in 2010 or 2011. It took some time, but I've gotten a handle on using it for texts and calls. The fact that the text message functionality is EXACTLY as it was years ago made it easier for that old muscle memory to return. 

So why did I go back to a flip phone? I felt like, all things considered, my smart phone was taking from my life more than it was giving. It notified me of every single email, but since composing email on a smart phone is so much slower than on a computer (or at least for longer emails), it really wasn't doing me any good that I could read a message easily but not respond to it very easily. 

More than that, though, the smart phone capitalized on my capacity to fritter away time. The problem wasn't so much the phone as it was me. If I was sitting still, I had to check Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook - or usually all three. If I came to a stop light, I had to see what had happened in my social world since the last intersection. This displeased my wife endlessly. 

So, when it came time to get a new phone, I went back in time. Today I enjoyed eating lunch knowing that no email would disturb my few minutes of solitude. I like that I find it easier to fill in the small gaps of time waiting for a meal or a bus by reading rather than by plunging into the Matrix. 

It's not a perfect set up. I miss Google Maps and my CTA Transit Tracker. I guess I'll never be able to use Uber. And unfortunately I couldn't really get a cheaper phone bill, since we were already on the lowest data plan available. 

But it's working for now. When my LG 450 dies, as it assuredly will one day unless I lose it first, maybe I'll return to a smart phone with (hopefully) better personal discipline. Or maybe I'll continue to live in my own world of slightly less social connectivity. If I do go back to a smart phone, I'll be sure to let you know by posting a selfie. 

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