Joining the Smartphone World
I have never claimed to be on the cutting edge of technology.
But I finally joined the smartphone world last year when my flip phone started breaking and could no longer accept most text messages. (Thank you to all my friends and family who put up with this annoyance for a long time).
I loved how easily I could clip digital coupons for our local grocery store, deposit checks in our bank, check email, and listen to songs on demand.
The phone appeared to bring us lots of joy and convenience, at first.
Then I noticed my hand developed a “twitch” of sorts.
Maybe you have experienced this same twitch: at the slightest hint of boredom, or pause in a conversation, or uncomfortable silence, I was reaching for my phone.
It felt like my hand had a mind of its own….like a magnetic force field connected that phone to my hand.
Most of the time I had no idea why I was grabbing it, but I knew I could find something to look at and fill that moment.
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks when I downloaded an App called Moment. It tracks the screen time each day as well as the number of times you pick up the phone.
Day 1: 3 hours of screen time, 41 pick ups.
I was completely shocked.
I only downloaded the App because Cal Newport mentioned it in his book Digital Minimalism. I thought it would be a fun experiment to track my time. I assumed it would be very low. In my mind I hardly used my phone.
The pickups were the number that actually got me the most. That number exposed the “twitch” I mentioned earlier. That number meant that 41 times in that day I felt compelled to check something or check out.
What I actually needed to do was put it down and pay attention to my surroundings, my spouse, and my children.
My kids were acting out and being more whiny than usual. I realized in that moment it was not entirely their fault. They were simply trying to get my attention and they were competing with a powerful force.
I kept the App running for about 3 weeks. Despite my best efforts my numbers continued to hover between 2-3 hours of screen time and approximately 40 pickups.
My husband happened to need a new flip phone, so we used that opportunity as a trial.
I took his new flip phone for the day and he took my iPhone for the day.
It was incredible. I got stuff done, had fun, and had time left over for solitude.
All the things I had trouble fitting into my day suddenly fit effortlessly.
I learned from Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, that some people are Moderators and some people are Abstainers. Moderators can choose to adjust a negative behavior while Abstainers have to completely remove the behavior.
In some aspects of my life I am a Moderator. I can eat one bowl of ice cream and save some for tomorrow. But when it comes to Cheetos and my Smartphone I am clearly an Abstainer.
Recognizing this tendency made it clear I needed to make the switch back to a flip phone.
So this week I went back to a flip phone with no web browsing and no notifications. Simply texts and calls.
Are there drawbacks? Yep.
I am back to writing down directions and printing things at the library. I am back to making lists of things to look up on the library computers later. I am back to writing my blogs in my journal and transcribing them later.
But you know what? I feel happy, light, and free. My mind is clear and I have more space in my days.
I am grateful I had the opportunity to try out a smartphone. I can even see a later phase of life where I will want one again. But in this moment it had to go.
This post also appeared on NoSideBar.