Dumbing Down The Smartphone

About once per year, I get an overwhelming desire to disconnect from social media (blog posts don’t count as social media, right? Right.) I get cranky when scrolling through Facebook, yet I can’t stop scrolling through Facebook. But it’s not so much a Facebook addiction as an iPhone addiction– I just want to be doing something on my phone.

Like a robot stuck on a command, I repeatedly smash my finger on my iPhone screen, even when I have absolutely nothing to check or tend to. I just can’t stop clicking. I refresh my email inbox 3 times in a row, check to make sure no new texts have come through, and refresh Instagram to ensure none of the dog accounts I follow (an embarrassingly high number) have posted new photos. Last week after exhausting all of my normal go-to apps, I literally opened my phone’s calculator and stared at it for a few seconds before angrily shutting the phone off and questioning my life’s purpose and the meaning of my existence on this planet. 0-100, real quick.

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I have a problem, as many iPhone users do. I see you!! I see you everywhere I go. We are all the same. We click incessantly. A 3 minute line at the grocery store? Check your phone. Boring conversation at the dinner table? Check your phone. Red light taking just a little too long? Check your phone. I don’t even want to guess how many times I check my phone throughout the day– totaling the time would probably equal hours. It’s constant, and I suddenly feel the need to put myself through iPhone addiction rehab to remind myself about the beautiful world outside of the little, glowing rectangle in my hands.

I spent today looking at flip phones (on my iPhone) to see how smooth the transition could be from an iPhone to a flip phone. I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to go “old school”, but I knew I wanted to try it for at least a few days. Turns out we would still have to continue paying on my iPhone even if I’m not using it, so onto plan B. Dumbing down the smartphone!

I moved all my favorite, time-wasting apps into one folder, and moved said folder to the last “page” of my phone. I turned off my data and WiFi, instantly morphing my phone into a very expensive, fancy looking calling and texting machine. And instantly, I felt a strange weight lifted. No more notifications–no more dings, blings, bleeps, and bloops demanding my attention. No more scrolling through Facebook, Reddit, Spotify, Pinterest, news apps, Instagram, and when I’m really desperate, Twitter. Why are we so afraid of the silence between the chaos? Why must we always fill it with noise?

I laid in my bed feeling a sense of accomplishment because I actually did it. Yes, it had only been 2 minutes, but it was a first step on my way to recovery. I know I can easily switch those “data” and “WiFi” buttons back on, but I also know that I won’t. At least until I feel confident that I have changed my habits, which I’ve heard can take months. The funny thing is that I laid in bed, a dumbphone virgin, and suddenly asked myself, “what should I do?” The possibilities seemed endless. I grabbed the book that’s been on my nightstand for the past three weeks and finished it. I’ve had only 20 pages left for the past three weeks, but because my phone contained funny cat videos and memes galore…the phone always beat out the book. Pathetic.

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Some people attribute their iPhone addictions to wanting to stay “connected”, and I get that. I have felt that at times, but I also know it has a way of making me feel overly connected. I don’t need to read the Facebook comments of the asshat from Indiana who compares same sex marriage to beastiality. I don’t need to check my work email at home, or (gasp!) post a photo of my dog on Instagram every day. I find myself feeling so bogged down with texts, notifications, messages, calls, and emails, that I often accidentally ignore all of them, even from people I really care about. It’s just too much.

I’m looking forward to tonight– going to bed without my phone being the last thing I see. I’m looking forward to waking up and not immediately reaching for my phone before I’ve even wiped the sleep from my eyes. I am excited about the things that I’ll now be forced to do, like making conversation with people in the grocery store line, and daydreaming at red lights. These are things I miss, things that make me happy and bring me fulfillment. Little, mundane things that sometimes lead to unexpected conversations or epiphanies. I wish I had the self-restraint to leave my phone in my purse and do these things naturally all the time, but I don’t. It’s the same reason I don’t eat junk food every day– because I will eat one Oreo, and then eat ALL the Oreos. I am, and always have been, an all-or-nothing girl.

Sometimes it just takes me giving myself a swift kick in the rear (or drastic measure) to remind myself that life is in front of me and I should be exploring it with my hands, not exploring the digitized version of it in my hands.

So here goes my little self-experiment! I have no idea how long it will last, but I feel confident that I’ll be making many more phone calls, and doing far less texting. Much more conversing, and far less clicking. Much more writing, and a lot less scrolling. Much more driving around getting lost now that I’m GPS-less, but hopefully meeting some interesting people as I stop to to ask for directions along the way.

I’ll let ya know how it goes!

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2 thoughts on “Dumbing Down The Smartphone

  1. Brilliantly, perfectly written piece. Kudos 100% to you Courtney. I, too know this problem in my own life, and the sad thing is that I saw it coming years ago which is why up until 2 years ago, I still had my little LG en-V flip phone. Ha. But alas, turns out starting a business is kindaaaa necessary to have a smartphone, so I’ve only become more and more reliant. Im constantly scheming up ways I can spend less time on my phone. I would like to figure out how to distractify and de-clutter my life to see the beauty again.

    • Thanks, Bryan! I can tell you I’m only on my full day 1 and I’m loving it so far!! I am impressed that you held out on a smartphone until two years ago. It’s such a difficult thing b/c they are SO useful (looking up things on Google the second you need to know something, especially), but yeah it can get bad fast.

      I think just the fact that you are aware of the need to not be a phone addict will hopefully keep you in good shape. Do you ever leave the phone at home when going out to dinner or hanging out with people? I’ve done that in the past and it was nice!

      Definitely makes sense that you need to have one when running a business. Or you could get a pager?!? Really take it back! haha 😉

      Thanks for your comment & encouragement, buddy!

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