back to a dumb phone

Back in November, I started an experiment in ROI. I started using a Blackberry.

It died the other day. It was a refurb. I’m not too surprised. When I took it to the store to have it checked out, I was faced with the question of replacement. The guy was helpful, suggesting options, showing me phones.

Finally, he suggested that I could activate my old phone to have some time to think about it.

And I’ve been thinking.

I could check email all the time. Eventually, however, every time I saw a small flashing red light, I looked for messages. Even when the flashing light was the security system on the radio in the van.

I could follow twitter easily using Ubertwitter. Most often, however, that following happened while I was driving back and forth to work or out on the highway. Today I listened to the radio. And was safer.

I could listen to Internet radio stations or MP3s, but I never did.

I could check directions, but I never go anywhere.

I could spend $30 a month, but there are probably other places for that money. In fact, I know exactly where it can be used.

I’m glad for the experiment. I understand the appeal of smartphones. But for now, I’ll go back to dumb.

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18 responses to “back to a dumb phone

  1. I’ve only been following you for a few weeks so this is my first comment. I’ve literally been awestruck by many of your posts, but this is the first that caused me to want to react. A hat-tip to you for recognizing what so many of us miss: life is about choices – some easy, some not so much – but if looked at from a pragmatic persepective with a cost/benefit analysis – the choices become obvious. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in an honest and accessible manner and for just being a “real” person. I’ve read many similar posts: my phone broke so I…never did I read about someone going back to basic. We need more of that common sense!

  2. I love it Jon! As I type this, I’m wrestling with so much of the lure of social media, and how I can get back to basics.

    You are often God’s thought catalyst, honestly discussing issues either just before/or right as they appear on my radar screen.

  3. I have avoided and will continue to avoid so-called smart phones unless work wants me to have one. The brief moments during the day I know I am disconnected from the rest of the world are usually the best.

  4. I have an iTouch to keep up with the “app crowd” and read email in a pinch, but I’m going to try my best to stay away from being chained to a crackberry. Great post!

  5. Dave S – thanks for making yourself known. It’s nice to meet you. Cheryl – just living. David – But I struggle mightily with making those moments (or minute or hours) happen. I know the value, but. Clair – Making a strategic functional choice (even if it is to keep up) is the best approach. Thanks.

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  8. My phone is so dumb it doesn’t even have a camera.

    For now, I enjoy the times away from the internet, since it’s my 8+ hours a day job to be on. However, I do fully understand the lure! I often find myself drifting back to the computer (off-work hours) when I should be doing other things.

  9. I guess it’s a matter of self-control.

    I have quick and easy access to junk food of all kinds, too, but I don’t eat it non-stop.

    However, it’s nice to have the option, from time to time, if you need it (or, if you want it – usually, you don’t really need it).

    Hence, I have both self-control, and a smart phone. There is very little difference in monthly charges with my local carriers, so it was an easy choice.

    This may not work for everyone… :)

    (People, you don’t have to do without – it has an “off switch” – use it.)

  10. I love the honesty! It’s so true (for me anyway) that so much of my phone I never use and likely never will unless I get a heck of a lot of time to figure out what it does which isn’t likely any time soon. The hype made me jump, but I question it often. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. I found myself going in the opposite direction. I am a geek of a geek. So I like trying new things. Between work and home I found myself with two phones and a Palm device to keep connected and organized. I spend a fair amount of time on my computer and the internet. It simplified my life when I got a smartphone.
    Mail, organization, Twitter, Facebook, games, music, Bible reading, maps, … All of that aggregated into one device. However, to make it work I found I needed to use my phone the same way I used a landline (when I had one) and a voicemail device. The ringer is off most of the time. It is extremely rare for me to answer a phone while the car is in motion. I never text in motion. At home the phone is usually two rooms away from wherever I am. The functionality of the phone enhances my life considerably. The strategies I use to keep my life undistracted by the phone enhances my life considerably. Things like Twitter and Facebook are similarly distracting whether on the computer or the smartphone. But I understand the point of what you are saying.

  12. Here’s what I like about Brett and Joe. Brett points to the concept of self-control. Joe lays out what it looks like in a practical way.

    Consolidation and simplification are what Joe is laying out.

    I do have to argue a bit with Brett, however. For some of us, self-control is more challenging at least about some things. Although it is possible to turn it off, sometimes it is helpful to step back from the device completely. At least that’s the case for me.

  13. claire, thanks for stopping by. I’m trying for honest, at least, sometimes, with myself.

    And Paul, my phone IS my camera. And the one on my enV is better that the blackberry. So in this, at least, I am actually stepping forward.

    On Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 11:09 PM, Jon Swanson wrote:

    > Here’s what I like about Brett and Joe. Brett points to the concept of > self-control. Joe lays out what it looks like in a practical way. > > Consolidation and simplification are what Joe is laying out. > > I do have to argue a bit with Brett, however. For some of us, self-control > is more challenging at least about some things. Although it is possible to > turn it off, sometimes it is helpful to step back from the device > completely. At least that’s the case for me. >

  14. Believe it or not – I went back to a “no phone” option sometime last Summer and couldn’t be happier.

    Do have to admit the lure to carry my mini with me and find wifi with playground or the 3yo does tug at me from time to time.

    But the reality is that “can’t take it with me” helps me to be present wherever I am.

    Switch or no switch – I would be checking email way too often and taking calls when I really ought to be taking a break instead.

    Multi-tasking = not ideal for me

    Something I should remind myself when the tabs on my browser exceed say 3 or 4 (aka. MOST of the time).

    Appreciate the post Jon!

  15. Welcome to freedom.

  16. I did the same thing a few months ago. One of my Christmas presents to myself was switching back to my old “dumb phone” and not feeling like I needed to check email in the evenings and on weekends.

    As it turned out, my dumb phone was a little too dumb for what I needed. I learned exactly what features from my smartphone HAD been making life simpler, and which ones weren’t.

    When I upgraded last week, I went with a sturdy phone (I’m too clutzy for a touch-screen) that had a good camera, would allow me to check email, but didn’t check it constantly for me, and which I could use on a $10/month text and web plan, instead of the $30/month data plan that my old smart phone required. I also learned how to sync Cozi (where my personal/family calendar lives) and Outlook (where my work calendar lives) and have reminders sent by SMS.

    It’s “just enough.”

  17. thanks, Kat. The decision to exercise self-discipline is a significant thing. And you are making decisions about how to use the phone rather than just adopting the technology.

  18. I am considering doing exactly this. I’ve had various “smart” phones for over three years now. Currently I have an HTC Tilt 2 paid for by my company with unlimited voice and data. Problem is, I’m the IT Director.

    The CFO wants me to get emails at all hours of the day on this device. The majority of the time I look at any email on the phone I am in my car. I don’t text and despise being alerted to an email while I’m driving.

    Most “smart” phones are ridiculous to try to make a normal call on. Scroll through an endless list of contacts, updated via Outlook and the company Exchange server, only to realize I’m not watching the road.

    I don’t care about updating Twitter or Facebook from every restaurant I enter. I don’t want to get an email requiring a lengthy response to be composed on a 4″ QWERTY keyboard. I want a phone that rings when someone calls and I can dial with ease.

    It’s amazing that we jump to pay a premium for constant detraction and interruptions in life. Sure a smart phone looks cool. If you’re still in high school your friends might think more highly of you. As an adult I just want a damn phone now. Seems the Gods of business perception are against me.