Why I'm Downgrading to a Dumb Phone
Two months ago, I was rushing to a qualifying run for the NYC Marathon when I had a terrible realization: I left my phone on the subway.
What's worse is that my phone doubled as my wallet, too. This is a family program so I won't curse, but here's how I felt...
Now, if you've ever spent 15 seconds in the Lovecraftian horror that is New York City, then you already know when you lose something it's gone. No getting your wallet mailed back to you. No phone call letting you know you're wallet was found.
It's not like Canada, where you'll have your phone returned to you with a polite apology and a box of Timbits.
Gone. Into the bottomless pit.
And in fact I did find one thing: A $500 charge on my credit card at Ralph Lauren I had to dispute. FML
I made the best of a bad situation, however, and reasoned that it was time to upgrade, or perhaps, downgrade my smartphone to a dumb one.
Yuval Noah Harari Doesn't Own a Smartphone
The same goes for Justin Bieber, Michael Cera, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Tom Cruise, Sarah Jessica Parker and Damon Albarn.I think we know why.Just as your body is made up of what you eat, your soul is made up of what you give it.
Do you really think you can spend all your free time in a place like social media that's a concentration of everything bad and addicting- I mean vapid ads, insults, negativity - without it affecting your morale?
So in my pursuit of a clearer mind, I decided to go for something less distracting: a "dumb phone."
It's a modern flip phone. That's it.
A flip phone with a touch screen, 5G, and only the bare minimum of apps.
The concept clicked with me because it takes serious willpower to stay focused on a smartphone without getting constantly sidetracked, even if you've blocked notifications, deleted social media, and deleted all unnecessary apps.
Willpower, like all habits and neuronal connections, takes training and usage. The more you lift the stronger you get. However, overtraining leads to burnout and heavy anxiety.
Strength and evolution are about controlled damage.
Because we use so much willpower just to avoid scratching at a piece of glass, or avoid the itch of notification, we end up too exhausted to make meaningful and valuable days.
That's why I think a dumbphone is a genius invention.
My 30 Day Experiment
Do you know the American construction company Caterpillar Inc., also known simply as CAT?They make dumbphones now.
Near invincible to boot. You can toss their phones off a 20-story building or kick them at a brick wall without a care. Pure entertainment, in my opinion.
I bought a CAT S22 for $70 and began my 30-day experiment.
On Day 1 and damn, this thing is huge! But you know what? It has a badass cyberpunk vibe instead of those outdated silver flip phones from the 2000s.
Using my phone was a deliberate choice now. And every time I dared to make a call, people would stare. One lady near Central Park even asked if the radiation was frying my brain. I'll admit, it sure seemed that way.
My friends said it even said it fit my style... which I'm not sure is a compliment or an insult.
By the 10th day, I encountered a couple of issues. One of them was struggling with navigation and apps on the tiny screen. I usually had to rely on a friend to do the navigating, which got damn frustrating when you don't have any friends like me. To keep a long story short, here's a list of pros and cons:
- It helped with productivity, but what it really helped for was reducing screen time. The lack of convenience is a blessing
- No falling fear because my phone was an indestructible brick
- Felt like I had a brief mental reset and escaped the matrix
- HORRENDOUS for photos, videos, and consuming any sort of content, but that's the point.
- Peer pressure to go back to a "normal" cellphone
- The novelty of using a brick died out quicker than you'd expect, and it takes serious dedication to stick with it.
A dumbphone permits you to go live your life.
Of course, it's entirely possible to "dumify" any phone. In fact, Tony Stubblebine became well-known for his guide on how to get the most out of your smartphone by blocking 90% of notifications and avoiding social media altogether.