My dumb phone and me

So, I have an old phone. That’s not news to anyone who knows me. I carry around an LG Cosmos 2 by choice, intentionally avoiding a smartphone, something I’m not sure I can get away with for much longer. 

Why not?

Let’s go through the reasons that I’ve been told I will enjoy a smartphone when I eventually upgrade to one. 

1. Your music and phone will be integrated!

I can, by choice, carry my music and my phone separately. That doesn’t bother me. I don’t need music walking from place to place and enjoy the sounds of life around me. If I go for a run, it’s cumbersome to carry a phone and prefer my iPod mini clipped to the waistband of my shorts or leggings, if I run with music at all. (Again, I prefer hearing the rustle of leaves under my sneakers and almost any time I use my iPod almost get run over by some biker on the trail as s/he passes me, since I’d been too busy bobbing to some pop song to notice anyone ringing a bell.)

2. You can check your email on the go!

Yikes! Count that as a reason I don’t want a smartphone. Yes, I can see the convenience. But it also gives me anxiety to know that my email can follow me anywhere. I get dozens of emails a day which all require responses within 24 hours. If I checked more than two or three times a day, then I’d just get panicked–and I’d never get anything real done. I deliberately choose to check my email at designated times during the day, setting aside 30 – 45 minutes to deal with the messages I receive, all from colleagues, friends, students, and professors. I find my approach reasonable and think it’s unreasonable to expect a response to a message you send me within less than 24 hours.  If someone needs an immediate response, then they should just call. (Most people do that when they have something important to discuss, anyways). 

3. You can use the internet while you’re waiting, or on the go, or when you’re not in front of your computer!

Again, yikes. I’d prefer not to. I am an extremist, yes, I understand that, but I functioned without a cell phone for all intents and purposes for one full year while living in Slovenia–again, by choice. I had a little pre-paid phone for emergencies and to text my cousin when my bus was arriving in her town on the weekends. But other than that, I never used it. Oh, once I called my dad from Venice for 7 minutes to use the 20 euros I had stored on the phone that were set to expire before the end of the month. But yeah. Other than that…

I’d prefer not to check the internet while I’m waiting at the bus stop, or walking down the street, or whatever. I have a GPS in my car for driving directions, and otherwise, I just call people or read a book if I’m feeling anti-social. 

4. There are, like, a hundred things you can use your iPhone to do! I don’t know how I survived so long without one!

I honestly have never thought to myself: “If only I had an iPhone right now, I could…” Maybe it’s because I’ve never had one. So I have no idea what I’m missing, probably. So I’m not qualified to answer this one. I just know that, much like I survived without chai lattes before I knew they existed, I am surviving now. And I could, if my addiction to chai were taken away, survive without them again. 

There is a basic difference between my view of a phone’s function and most other people’s which explains why I couldn’t care less about not having an iPhone. I subscribe to the idea that phones should be phones. Other people want phones to be small computers. That’s fine by me… most of the time. Except for the two times when it is not, which are irritating enough to merit me finally caving in (whenever my upgrade becomes available) and getting a smartphone:

1. They intentionally make dumb phones (like my current phone) hard to get, fix, or maintain because they don’t make that much  money off customers who use phones as phones only. My phone broke three times already in the less than two years I’ve had it, and its battery is currently held on by clear packaging tape. Yes, that is partially my fault. Yes, I break phones. I get that. But… nobody at the cell phone ER at my local cell phone shop cares about it because it’s a dumb phone and that means I don’t pay a monthly data plan fee, which means I’m a customer low on the list of priorities. 

2. Text messaging has changed with the advent of the iPhone. I seriously want to throw my phone out the window whenever someone with an iPhone texts me, particularly in a group message. No matter how many times I ask people not to include me in a group message or send weird “stickers” of fish sticking their tongues out, it inevitably happens: one message lights up my screen, alerting me to its receipt. As I go to click it open, which takes a few seconds, a second alert appears: someone has responded. I go to hit “clear” to read the original message, and an third alert appears: the original sender has responded to the response! Before I can even hit “clear,” a fourth message pops up: the respondent has decided to amend his/her message–or write it in two parts! (Because that apparently looks cooler on an iPhone or something?!) Fast forward to three minutes later, and the 42 messages of the conversation have been logged in my phone, in a jumbled order, with emoticons appearing as random symbols and photographs showing up as tiny asterisks, and my phon is beeping: “Text message box full!” And then I have to go in an delete each message individually in order to be able to receive new messages. If I don’t, my phone will beep three times on high every three minutes until I delete the messages or smash it with a hammer. In addition, from the moment of the first receipt of a message until the last one when through, my phone was completely, unable to be used to read or send text messages, make phone calls, or check voicemail–it was just having a panic attack in the corner, lighting up and vibrating at random, about to self-combust.

Ah, you say: your phone is the worst! You should clearly get a smartphone!

No, I say, YOUR smartphone is the worst, and it doesn’t play well with others, in group messages or otherwise (even sending two or more messages in a row paralyzes my phone). I just want to exist in peace, away from the internet with my dumb phone, but the smartphones of the world make that impossible.

So, whatever, I guess I’ll trade in my dumb phone one day, six months or a year from now, when I have a phone upgrade. But it’ll be with mixed feelings and really only because smart phones are secretly conspiring to kill my dumb phone, which I was perfectly happy with before the smartphone existed. 

3 thoughts on “My dumb phone and me

  1. Eric says:

    hey Kristina,

    I saw your article on LinkedIn. Finally….someone who gets it. Also, the biggest scam of the smartphone: the ridiculous amount of money you have to pay for the data plan. I just upgraded a month ago….to another dumb phone. At&t Lg something or other. It works pretty good.

    As far as making the dumb phones so they can’t be fixed, I think that is a quality of the smart phone.

    There are also high quality (literally) military grade phones, and they are just the dumb phone but ruggized. They can take tons of abuse.

    I’m not changing until I can’t get a dumb phone or until the price for the data drops.

    1. kristinareardon says:

      Hi Eric! So good to hear from you–it’s been a while!

      I agree with everything you’ve said here! I’ve just replaced my old phone, which died, with a pretty rugged flip phone that used to be my brother’s… it’s annoying to text on, but it survives anything: he dropped it from a second story balcony twice, and it’s still working just fine. Smartphones have their moments, I’m sure, but for now I’m happy with my inexpensive new/old phone!

  2. prasen74 says:

    Reblogged this on prasenchattopadhyay and commented:
    Perfectly written…we need not wired 24/7…and miss autumnal leaves fall with a rustle, striking a friendly conversation with a stranger or reading a book for that matter…we need not to stick our noses to those fragile glass displays, playing some idiotic games or downloading some useless app.

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