Life Without a Smartphone

So it's now been about a month since I decided to give up my smartphone and I thought I'd take a minute to share what that experience has been like.

Before I start, I just want to make it very clear I am not in any way saying that it is wrong to own a smartphone or that everyone in the world should give up theirs too. There are a lot of good reasons to own a smartphone and they can do a lot of good for us. They are amazing devices and as a tech enthusiast, I genuinely enjoyed mine. But for me personally, something about carrying around the entire internet, all my emails, all my updates, all my notifications, all my reminders, all my pictures, all my subscriptions and all of my conversations everywhere I went just didn't feel right anymore. I began to not like the effect it was having on me and I wanted to make a change. And you'd be surprised how developers are being taught to exploit your negative emotions in order to get you hooked to their apps.

Also I should clarify that I still use a cell phone. The phone I went back to is my 8 year old SamSung BlackJack with a killer 2 inch NON touch-screen and a physical keyboard. I suppose technically it falls under the category of a "smartphone" because if I paid for a data plan I could technically use it to check email and connect to the internet, but it's that weird kind of internet that existed on phones before the iPhone was invented. Do you remember that? To think at some point in time that actually blew our minds! But I don't pay for data anymore so all it can do for me is make calls and send text messages. And that's all I want from my phone.

So here is what my experience has been so far including some of the negatives, but also the positives.

TYPING:

  • Con: Typing on a small physical keyboard is way harder than I remember.
     
  • Pro: Because typing is such a pain now, it forces me to just CALL more and use my own voice to ask someone a question. Pretty crazy right? Yeah it's more work that way (or is it?) but it's given me more real human to human interaction vs screen to screen. Something we could probably all use a little more of.

CAMERA:

  • Con: No longer having the quick and easy way to snap shots of my kids.
     
  • Pro: This is forcing me to take out my good camera more often and take better quality pictures of my kids anyway. I used to think this would have been a huge pain but actually it has not been that bad. In fact, it's been the opposite experience and I am really enjoying it. Before, I would only take out my good camera for them during times they'd be all dressed up or had their hair done nice. But now I'm using it even when they're running around the house in their pajamas with crumbs all over their lips while suffering from some serious bedhead. 

I would not have this photo that I absolutely ADORE if I relied on my smartphone.

Also if you're a fellow photographer, I never thought I'd say this but I have found that just throwing it on Auto Mode and shooting in JPG for those quick moments has been just fine. Also I use SmugMug and I have set up a private gallery just for my kid's pics and use the Lightroom Plugin to easily sync just the good shots as a backup with 1 click!

ENTERTAINMENT, INTERNET & EMAILS:

  • Con: No longer having the quick and easy way to entertain myself, research a question or know as soon as someone emails me.
     
  • Pro: This one is a BIG Pro for me and possibly the most important. As I mentioned earlier, carrying around the entire internet, all my emails, all my updates, all my notifications, all my reminders, all my pictures, all my subscriptions and all of my conversations everywhere I went started to have an effect on me that I did not like. I've noticed that since putting all of those things away, the quality of the time I am spending with my kids has increased a lot. Not that I ignored them or didn't already play with them a good amount. But now it just feels different. I can spend time with them with no distractions. Their smiles and laughs are so much more entertaining than the latest Facebook news or the (not so) important email that could easily wait until they've gone to bed. These are extremely special years of their lives that when they're old and gone away that I would beg to have back. I want to get the absolute most out of them as I can.

MAPS

  • Con: Yeah I'll admit, no GPS and no live traffic conditions on the phone blows and I do miss that one.
     
  • Pro: Now I'm not fooling myself, my kids ages can be stressful and if I have a road trip to take them on I am not going to spend any extra time in the car that I don't need to. But for the sake of this point I'm going to use a line from my buddy Spencer (who also does not own a smartphone and was one of my inspirations to this decision) the first time that I asked him about what happens when he goes on a trip and he gets lost.

    His response? "I like getting lost."

    How awesome is that? Remember that cool story you have to tell because of the time you got lost? Eventually no one will have those anymore. Kinda sad.

PRICE:

  • Pro: No Con here. I went from paying $100/month to $45/month to AT&T. My phone also lasts over a week on a single charge so I'm spending less money in electricity too. Okay, maybe that's a little bit of a reach....but come on, OVER A WEEK ON A SINGLE CHARGE! Let's see an iPhone do that.

I actually had more stuff I wanted to say but I tend to write too much and this post has already gotten much longer than I meant it to. I'll wrap it up by saying this. I still believe in using technology. I just don't believe in technology using me. And that's what was starting to happen. I still have access to the things I would use my smartphone for if I need them but they're now quietly and patiently waiting for me on my computer where I can get them during appropriate times. They don't need to be in my pocket following me around every waking moment of my life.

Believe it or not the most common reaction I've heard from people when I tell them about this decision goes something likes this..."Wow, I wish I could do that."

Why can't you? :)