Notes from the Trail

Going iPhone-less: more thoughts

alcaltelIt’s been more than three weeks since I put my iPhone 5 in its box in a drawer in our living room. Since that time, I’ve upgraded from my original dumb phone. I was using a Sony Ericcson w810i that we’ve had for years. It’s been a sturdy (and surprisingly feature-rich little phone) that we’ve used as a fall back many times. I just couldn’t stand texting by having to count on each number key when I texted. (Think #2 key… 1 push for “A,” two for “B,” three for “C,” etc.) I had to get a smarter dumb phone with a keyboard. I settled on the beauty to the right – a Go Phone that I simply stuck my SIM into.

They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, and if that’s true, I’ve broken the iPhone addiction from my life. If you’ve been following my DLAE entries (pronounced “delay” because that’s what going to a dumb phone does; stands for Digital Life Adjustment Experiment), you know that I’ve not gone digitally dark. I have simply assigned my digital life to selected times and places rather than being “on” all the time. It’s like taking off a ball and chain, honestly.

To give you some context…

I’ve been a smart phone guy for a long time. I think my first was a Palm Treo. Had a few iterations of those phones. Then Steve Jobs transformed our phone culture and expectations with the tech-shattering debut of the first iPhone. I had one the day they were released, thanks to my mom and dad’s generosity and Carolyn and Sam’s willingness to stand in line at the AT&T store and surprise me with it. (Check out the video of my receiving it!)

I’ve upgraded to each new iPhone, usually selling my old one on Ebay and making money on the transactions since. I landed on the iPhone 5 when they were released last year.

Somewhere in the past six years, however, I began to notice that every spare moment of undisciplined life was spent on my phone – texting, checking Facebook or Twitter (and trying to convince people to move to Google+ or the Path app). In moments where my face wasn’t buried in it, I noticed that everyone around me was being sucked into this new type of life. People walking down the street were texting (some were running into walls), listening to music, taking pictures, etc. For me, I began to wonder if I was viewing life through a few inches of technology, like looking through a dirty window.

When I stirred in to the pot that with the availability that technology afforded, other’s expectations of me increased as well. Because I was plugged in to the Matrix, others expected, assumed, presumed and abused my accessibility. I would receive texts, tweets, Facebook messages, emails, etc. that all presupposed instant responses – day and night. And I complied.

Then three weeks ago, I bailed. Kinda. Read about the jump here.

Three weeks in, here are a few thoughts:

  1. There are some things I miss about my iPhone, but not much. The main thing I miss is the amazing camera. I love taking pictures and documenting experiences and relationships with them. I still do Instagram, but now my photo flow has changed (and their quality is sadly deficient). I have to tell people to “be still” when I take photos with my dumb phone.I also miss checking in with Foursquare. I do. I hate to confess that. It was fun and satisfying in a weird way. I still check in occasionally with my iPad Mini, but not to the extent I was.
  2. I check texts and the digital world a few times a day. Usually it’s about 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and in the evenings after supper when the fam is winding down. That’s even when I check voicemails. These disciplined times to interact may cause others a small inconvenience when they don’t hear from me, but if they’ve texted me and are waiting for an immediate response, they’ll be forced to wait for a few hours. For those that disturbs, I just have to say, “It’s life, people. Try getting one.”
  3. The End is NearI am surprised at how my DLAE has subtly tried to assert itself in arrogance. How in the world I could possibly look upon someone who is on their iPhone with judgement is beyond me, but the temptation has begun to creep up on me. All I can say is that it’s like being in the movie Inception, knowing I’m awake in another person’s dream world and feeling a bit sorry for them that they don’t realize that they’re not truly awake.iPhones and their poor imitations aren’t bad. They’re great tools. However, when people become the tools of a technological system or world without discernment or awareness, addictions are formed (or worse).

    I don’t want to be the guy on the street corner with a sandwich board proclaiming “The End Is Near.” Yet, our culture’s unquestioning consumption of technology is making us miss the stunning beauty of real life, relationships and experiences. We seem content to medicate ourselves with tech and shallow social media relationships. We’re losing our brains and our ability to think.

  4. I like my dumb phone. It forces discipline into my life. It also is refreshing to look at it and realize I can’t do anything other than call or text. I don’t know what the capital of that country is. I don’t know who is in that movie. I don’t know when Thomas Jefferson died. I’m refreshed to know that I don’t know. Google and Bing unconsciously convince us that we’re omniscient. Being plugged in lulls into a false sense of always being right. I need to be reminded that I’m limited, ignorant and dependent.

So there you go. What do you think?

On this day...

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