As a person who doesn’t tend to do things by halves I got rid of my smartphone, my iPhone, to be exact. I swapped out my life in the form of a micro-sim to the larger older one, dug out my Samsung from 2011, and whacked it in. Now I have a phone that texts and rings. That’s all. Actually, not true, it has a calculator and a stopwatch, both handy things to have.
My phone doesn’t have a qwerty keypad, it has numbers – so you have to press the 1 button once for an “a”, twice for a “b” or three times to get a “c”. Or, if you are clever, you can use predictive text.
It’s been a kind of weird experiment. I have really noticed how much of my life was hiding in my phone, and while my emails have been handy, I have really missed the banking app the most – no more transferring money waiting for the eftpos to go through; I have to be prepared before I leave the reach of our home wifi. I’ve also missed having a camera to snap funny life moments which I’d normally share out on social media, so there was no tweet about the random, ironic white doves feeding off the lawn at Wintec a few days after Valentines Day.
Taking the smartphone out of my pocket was my way of trying to connect more with the world around me, and it wasn’t until I lifted my head that I noticed that I noticed how disconnected I was, and how much of the world around me was the same – sunken into an iPhone or Android.
Waiting at the bus stop? Phone. Waiting for your kids to come out of school? Phone. Sitting alone in a cafe? Phone. Sitting with your kid at their school visit while they eat morning tea? Phone. (Actual events)
Going to the circus? A spectacle under the bright lights, contortionists, clowns and acrobats, the loud thumping music under the sweaty and slightly warm Big Top, dry ice filling the crowd and inducing a couple of coughs from small kids. Phone. Actually. Recording, selfie-ing, checking stuff online. A life in a screen at the expense of the outside world.
I’m not going to pretend that not having a smartphone isn’t a bit inconvenient. I miss it a bit. But I have gained so much more, and now my kids talk to me and I hear them, instead of giving a nod of agreement and then wondering a few minutes later what I’d actually agreed to.
I mostly call, it’s way easier texting, but I text more than I used to but still not as much as I should. I seek people out more, because face-to-face is easier than all of the above. I carry reading material in my bag because I like to read, but it’s more like brochures, books or magazines than news items. I turn on the news at 6pm instead, and listen out for the top of hour news bulletins to plug in with the day. I am less outraged.
My husband calls it Technology Regression, perhaps it is going backwards. Whatever one might call it I am no longer connected the same way I used to be to the world wide web but am now so much more plugged in.