Goodbye Smartphone

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Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

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.

The Problem

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.

The Solution

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.

Goodbye Smartphone.

-Brittany

This post also appeared on NoSideBar.

10 comments

  1. Love this. Have never owned anything other than a flip phone, and just recently had to replace. My 2 adult kids begged me to get the smart phone, declined. My reason was not good enough for them but the ‘kid’ at the verizon shop said it perfectly: “You don’t want that lifestyle.” I was blown away- I had never considered that it was optional, i always thought it was a rising tide i had to push against-but it can be a choice! This new little phone does group text, which is convenient, that’s new for me. I also do not want the cost of SP. This little thing is $35.00 mo. unlimited T and T. What’s not to like? I recall, as an older person, spending $150.00 mo. on landline phone service.

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    • Kris,
      Good for you for not letting others pressure you! Yes, at times it feels like we have no choice with some changes…but the Verizon employee did say it best, as it is a lifestyle choice.

      Thank you for your comment and thank you for reading! -Brittany

      Like

  2. This is a great post. Lucky you for finding your personality and applying it to a cell phone lifestyle (flip phone).
    While I can abstain from opening Facebook (because for me it’s a time-sucker) I love my Yahtzee and Sudoku games. I realize they are also time suckers so have had to mentally restrict my phone pickups and divert my attention elsewhere. Thankfully I barely look like a game addict when seen out and about. I’m a closet cell gamer. LOL
    I wish we could program our phones to only open a certain app for a certain amount per day.

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    • Kathleen, thank you for your comment! I think that is great you have some games you like and are able to manage them well. I love your idea of an App that can only open a certain amount….that would be great!

      Thank you for reading! -Brittany

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  3. I too own only a flip phone, with a camera (which is nice sometimes), and unlimited talk and text. I spend mornings writing on my laptop (check out my blog at http://www.maximumgratitudeminimalstuff.com), and that’s when I check email too. If I need to print something, I save it to my thumb drive and go to the local Staples. This works just fine, and I don’t have to battle the “twitch.”

    I find it amazing (and encouraging) that the employee at the Verizon store said, “You don’t want that lifestyle.” Isn’t that what his store is pushing? So good for him, for reminding customers that it’s a choice, not an obligation.

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    • Karen,
      Thank you for your comment. Glad I am not alone on the flip phone journey :). I agree that the Verizon employee mentioned in another comment showed great wisdom in pointing out the “choice.”

      Thank you for reading!
      -Brittany

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  4. Kudos on your article! I too, did not want the expense of a smart phone, or having to carry around a computer with me at all times—I work on a computer all day at my job. My old flip phone was falling apart as well, and having being frustrated with other smart phone users and their lack of attention to others (i.e. drivers who text), I did not want any part of it. I used to be embarrassed by peers who laughed about my flip phone, but I’ve gotten over that. When I compared the cost of phone service with a smart phone to cost of owning a flip phone, it was a no-brainer for me. I have seen smart phone users so tuned into their phones that they walk into walls and poles, and have seen more than a few drive their cars right into a ditch because they were so distracted. No thanks! I’ll keep my flip phone!

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    • LuAnn,
      Thank you for your comment! Yes, we also get teased sometimes for our phones, but the trade off is worth it for us! So far I am very pleased with the switch! Thank you for reading. -Brittany

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  5. Brittany, I was like you. I had only a flip phone well past when everybody around me had gotten a smart phone. I wanted no parts of a smart phone. Then one day, my laptop died, and I had gotten rid of my landline a few years prior. Suddenly, I was cut off from my kids’ school b/c everything was done through email & the website. And even though it was a pain, I had continued to use Mapquest to get me places, printing out directions when I needed to, but now I couldn’t do that either without my laptop. When I went to Best Buy to see if I could get my laptop fixed, they said it could take two weeks. Two weeks of no emails or using the school website, two weeks of no directions to places I needed to go, and also not being able to check on my bank account. I realized at that time that I needed a smartphone, but I still CRIED in Best Buy, b/c I didn’t want that “lifestyle.” Three years in, I have an app on my smartphone where I can check my child’s assignments, I can check my bank balance, I have GPS that is far better than printing out directions from Mapquest. It takes excellent pictures compared to my flip phone. As a single parent, it has simplified my life so much. There had been times when I had to drive to Staples to print out Mapquest directions, or wait until I got home from work to go on my laptop to see emails from my kids’ school. Several times I had lost out on opportunities to volunteer or chaperone trips b/c other parents had already responded from their smart phones. But it has been a blessing & a curse. I definitely spend more time on it than I should, but often that time is spent reading parenting articles or news stories … or scrolling through Facebook. At this point, I don’t think I could go back to a flip phone, but I would like to cut down on how much time I spend on my smartphone.

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    • Amy,
      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. I definitely agree there are situations where smartphones add value!! Without a tablet/laptop at home, it would be challenging for us as well. I don’t think returning to a flip phone would work for a lot of people, and it sounds like the smart phone did add lots of value for you. Thank you again for sharing and for reading!! -Brittany

      Like

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