There are three kinds of phone users today: people who are eager to get their hands on the new iPhone; folks who swear by their Android smartphones; and finally, people who call and text with their basic, dumb phones.
Yes, we exist. And no, I am not a technophobe or a hipster wanna-be.
So what happened?
Going back to basics wasn’t a deliberate choice – at first. A month ago, my 2-year-old smartphone (Alcatel Pop D5, yes not the fanciest) died. Weeks before, it was already showing signs of deterioration and I fervently hoped it would last until December, in time for my 13th month pay. But alas! It breathed its last before I had the funds to buy a replacement.
With no decent spare phone and no budget to buy the smartphone I’m lusting after (the Asus Zenfone 3, if you’re curious), I decided to get myself a basic phone.
This would only be temporary, I told myself.
I was joking.
Taking a step back from “smartness”
Owning a dumb phone in a world dominated by over 2 billion smartphone users, I felt isolated. I missed picking up my phone and checking out what everyone else was doing. My fingers itched for something to scroll through. In a desperate attempt to keep myself entertained, I took out my new phone and flipped aimlessly through the menu trying to find something interesting. Aside from letting me call and text, I discovered it has neat features like a clock, flashlight, notepad, and calendar. Oh, and it also has Sudoku!
But it also has gazillions of limitations – the most obvious is that I am no longer able to document my every move on social media. I can no longer snap selfies, like my friends’ posts, update my online shop, send emojis, or win arguments via quick Google searches.
My phone is the most basic it can get, but I love it anyway. Here’s why:
Okay, maybe not as indestructible as the glorious Nokia bar phone we all used to have.
But still, mine has a better chance of surviving violence in the hands of a klutz or, you know, a kid. My toddler has thrown and dropped my phone multiple times and still not a scratch! How about you, can you drop your phone without freaking out? And please, no cheating with your tempered glass screen protectors or smothering it with bubble wrap.
I can text with my eyes closed
My kid hates it when I use my phone when I’m with him. Once he catches me texting or scrolling through my news feed aimlessly, he would snatch my phone and demand that I give him my full, undivided attention. (Yes, this kid’s got personality. I wonder who he got if from…) But of course, there are some texts that need urgent response. With my new phone, I can compose and send a reply using one hand without my little boss noticing. Just like how we used to text in class before…
It can last a week without charging
Many smartphone owners boast that they can go a day or two without a recharge because of their gadget’s long battery life. Others don’t worry about draining their batteries because they bring their powerbank with them. As for me, I can go a week without a single recharge or relying on a powerbank. This a far cry from my old phone which often lasted less than a day.
I don’t have to worry about it getting snatched
Even if my old smartphone wasn’t the fanciest, I refrained from using it in public for the fear that it might get snatched. Obviously, I no longer have such concerns with my new phone. I can whip it out any time and not have to observe my surroundings for potential threats, a.k.a. Snatchers. Heck, they might even have a better looking phone than me!
Being disconnected allowed me to connect better
And the greatest perk: not being tethered to a device has allowed me to live and experience the moment instead of cataloging it. And it feels liberating!
I am no longer a slave to Facebook, Instagram, or email. I can spend time with my partner and kid and not feel guilty for being distracted by my phone with its piles of notifications and alerts. I can’t say the same for my sisters (and occasionally, even my parents) who are always glued to their phones and are usually non-responsive when I try to make a conversation with them.
Do you suggest that others ditch their smartphones, too?
Of course, not. Smartphones are incredibly useful in many circumstances, and I think they’re one of the greatest inventions ever made. But if you want to create more freedom in your life and forge real, lasting human connections, I urge you to look up from your smartphones.
Be there in the moment. Talk, don’t type, and make sure to have eye contact. Show love to your family and friends, not just double tap virtual hearts .
The present is much more meaningful when seen and experienced with our own eyes – not through a glass screen.
Here’s a great, eye-opening spoken word poem by Gary Turk
“…So look up from your phone, shut down that display,
take in your surroundings, and make the most of today.
Just one real connection is all it can take,
to show you the difference that being there can make…”