Seeking a "dumb" phone, Part I

Seeking a Dumb Phone, Part I

For a long time now, I’ve been annoyed with myself over my “smart phone” use. It used to stay in my pocket all day like a permanent attachment; all of my front jean pockets have a rectangular outline worn into them……hold on, my phone says I have an email.

……ok it was just an ad from Joann’s fabrics.

Anyway, I kept my phone with me constantly, and I noticed that I began to jump online during even the shortest spans of downtime. As soon as Rowan was occupied with his toys for a moment, I would cruise all of the local news sites……..Oh yeah- reaaaal quick- let me put the address of that shooting I read about into my phone and see how far away it was from me…..

…..ok, it wasn’t that close….

Anyway, even when we play outside in the fresh air and sunshine, it seemed like I was always burying my nose in my Facebook feed  ………just…a…seeeeeec that reminds me I should check the weather app for today

…..ok no rain, maybe we’ll go to the park…

What I mean is that I’m even tempted to check my email when I stop at a red light!  (But I’ve forbidden myself from using my phone when Rowan’s in the car.)…….OH! Wait, I..need…to…check traffic…near the park

….ok got it, sorry.

I mean it’s getting ridiculuous, as though waiting is such a terrible sentence to endure……OH, sentence! I gotta pull up Grammar Girl really quick- that rule about serial commas is going to drive me crazy!!

…ok, ok, ok, I’m done.

The whole thing has annoyed me even more recently, because I began to recall the moments of still, quiet, waiting of my childhood.  I began to wonder if I am missing out on something by continually feeding my mind information and never letting it breathe……FEED! Geez I gotta check my RSS feed or those posts will really stack up on me……

…..oh, two new articles to read…..well out of respect for you, I’ll wait to read those….

There is nothing inherently wrong with these digital activities, I’m just questioning the wisdom of injecting them into every spare moment I have.  I am beginning to suspect that when I break up my present-moment experience with dozens of data snippets, that I am not merely “filling idle time,” as it seems at first.  I have a hunch that I am actually losing *something*……some intangible quality of the present….while not gaining much.  Kind of like trying to carry on a conversation of no consequence while you are also having an important conversation with someone else.

I was just thinking, when I look around the auto repair shop waiting room, or in a fast-food line, on a bus, or even at the drivers at a stop light who are all entranced by their phone screen (myself included often), I wonder if Rowan will even believe me when I tell him that we used to just

W A I T 

during those times.  We as a society, sometimes used to *just watch the scenery go by from the bus window,* and if we wished, we would bring one paperback book to read in the waiting room, and if it was bad we were out of luck, and *sometimes*….we even found ourselves spending time in conversation with strangers had also been waiting idly.  Strangers- you know, those other people bent over their cell phones whose ears we don’t recognize.

I’ve thought often about unplugging a little, or a lot, even to the extent that I question my desire to continue using a “smart phone.”  I think that despite the limitations, having a “dumb” phone that just makes calls and texts would be peaceful. I also think it would be not only a neat way to model those olden-days for Rowan, but also, I suspect, an effective means to gain mental rest/un-cluttering/quiet.  In the last few months I’ve been troubleshooting this unplugging or “dumb phone” process, as it’s more complicated than it seems if you don’t have the desire/option to be completely off the grid.  More to come on that in future posts….

—-Posted from my PC—-

2 thoughts on “Seeking a "dumb" phone, Part I

  1. A well-written post! This is one of the main reasons I'm resisting getting a smart phone. My husband and I are even contemplating the wise use of the internet on our laptops at home. One thing (Oh, I'll just check the weather…) seems to always lead to a longer time spent online, and we miss out on our time together. That's me right now, actually, as I read your post and comment instead of engaging in breakfast time with my daughters. :s


  2. Thank you! That's so true, that one little task leads to more use than intended. I find that this doesn't happen nearly as much on my laptop as on my smart phone because it's much less mobile. I'm almost always called away from my laptop after a reasonable time because I can hear my son getting into some adventure in another part of the house.


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