13 September 2015

The End of an Era

This past Saturday, I was forced to buy a smartphone. I use the word forced in a very literal sense. I was not given any choice in the matter, nor was I even given time to contemplate the pros and cons of the decision, the decision was made for me. It was offered that I accept it as a gift of a free smartphone, and while I appreciated the offer, I chose to pay for my phone, because if it were a gift, I'd have to be genuinely grateful...and I'm just not yet at the point where I can be genuinely grateful for it.

Normally, having a nice and highly functional cell phone should probably be considered a good thing...but unfortunately, I can't help but feel a sense of loss. Having the freedom to be and live differently in spite of societal or peer pressure is a very high priority to me. I stopped wearing makeup when I started beauty school because I saw how makeup itself had become such a weight and a burden to the beautiful 18 year old girls I went to school with. I once heard a girl say that she wouldn't even let her own parents, let alone her friends or her boyfriend, see her without her makeup on...and after that day, I never wore makeup to school again, because I wanted to be one person, one tiny example, of being comfortable in your own skin.

The smartphone thing is pretty similar to the makeup episode. Up until now, I've striven to be one example of a working adult with healthy family and friend relationships, a lifestyle that is involved in the community, and even an internet and social media presence...without a smartphone and without any desire for one. I wanted to be one small example--to be able to say with my life to other people who didn't have a smartphone for any reason to not let that be their excuse for anything, to not let that stop them. I actually haven't had my own cell phone since July 2014, ever since we've moved, I've shared a phone with Angel--that meant I could never contact him when we were apart, but that was fine, I always knew we'd end up at the same house eventually. :)

I have always been quite vocal in my opposition to smartphone use, and I've always said, proudly, I must admit, that I'd keep using a Nokia candy bar phone until the technology was no longer supported. In humility, I'm having to eat my words now, because I do own a smartphone.

In spite of my new status as a smartphone owner, let me just mention a few of the reasons why I dislike them:

1. Smartphones are expensive, and, for many, a needless cost biting into a monthly budget that would do better without the added fees. Thankfully, right now, this really isn't a huge problem for me. I bought a Samsung something--whatever the model is, it's less than 1/6th the cost of the iPhone where I live, so it's not that ridiculous of an initial outlay, less than $100 USD. Also, I didn't get a data plan, and here, we just have pre-paid talk and text--I expect that I'll end up spending less than $5 USD a month on talk and text because...I don't make any unnecessary calls.

2. Smartphones are way too fragile. You have a really hard time convincing me that these phones are truly so "smart" when nearly every phone I see has a cracked screen and when they seem to need regular replacements and upgrades. I literally dropped my Nokia in a bucket of water and multiple times onto the asphalt parking lot and it didn't give me any trouble. It's quite silly that such expensive tools remain so very delicate--which means, if you have one, you have to worry about keeping it safe. I definitely appreciated never having to worry about the safety of my cell phone...or the possibility of it getting lost or being stolen. I don't know, Nokias just seem so low-pressure, if you lose it, it's inconvenient, but not tragic. And if someone stole a Nokia, they would have to really need it, so you wouldn't feel bad about it.

3. Smartphones don't fit into normal-sized jeans pockets. This means you have to either carry a purse, or carry the phone in your hand, neither of which is a very comfortable option.

4. People are tempted to forget their real priorities when they have a smartphone in their hands. It's so silly, seeing a bunch of friends hanging out, checking their phones. I am a big advocate of being present wherever you are. Smartphones create a strong temptation to check out of wherever you are and check in to a virtual world that is easier to handle or more entertaining. But the fact remains that the real and present world is more important.

5. Smartphones make instant communication way too easy. Back in the day, it was a lot harder to cancel a date with a friend, because you actually had to call and talk to them. Now, you can just text or Whatsapp them to cancel the minute something better comes up, without the awkward voice-to-voice conversation. I wholeheartedly believe that more convenient methods of communication do not necessarily lend themselves to healthier and more whole relationships. It's a lot harder to hide your real feelings in an actual conversation, either in person or on the phone, than it is to hide them in a carefully worded text. Really easy and instantaneous communication has a lot of downsides for relationships. That's not to say that there are no positives, but it seems to make it a lot easier for people to flake out on their friends and treat their commitments loosely. Keeping commitments is something I value highly, and I dislike the smartphones role in plans that are changed and canceled at the last minute.

6. GPS. I don't think it sounds fun to have an easily trackable device near my person at all times.

So there you have it. I'm the most reluctant smartphone user ever. You're probably laughing at my silliness now, and that's totally okay. I didn't grow up to be the kind of person who boycotts cardigans, McDonald's, and smartphones, and in addition, expect everyone to agree with me and consider it perfectly rational behavior. But I, like everyone else, crave being understood, if not agreed with, and I appreciate seeing people willing to take stands for what they believe in, even when it causes inconvenience.

I'm trying to look on the bright side of the situation. I'm trying to not be quite so disdainful of my new phone. In doing so, I signed myself up for Instagram, using my usual username: @randomlyrachels. I do enjoy seeing pictures from friends and family. You can feel free to follow my account if you so desire. If you already follow @angelofrachel, you probably know that Angel is the primary poster on that account, and it shows in his choice of photos (and that account is on a 3+ year old iPod which explains the photo quality). If you want to unfollow him and follow me instead, he won't mind. It's not a competition. :)

I'm coming to terms with the fact that I no longer get to be the girl without the smartphone. I feel like I lost a part of who I am, that I have to say an unwilling goodbye to something that's been important to me for a long time, but I'm hoping that this change will turn out to be a very worthwhile one, and that even if I'm not quite thankful yet, that I will be. I am looking on the bright side, so if you have any Android apps to recommend to make me think a little more highly of my phone, let me know. At the moment, I have installed Instagram and Whatsapp and Trivia Crack, and that's all. Angel and I used to play Trivia Crack on his iPod together before we went to sleep every see, it is possible for me to have some good feeling for/memories about these mysterious "app" things. Seriously, if you have any advice or tips to share about the "bright sides" of smartphones, let me know. I've spent a little too long as an anti-smartphone advocate for this to be an easy change.

(Also, can we say, most First World Problem ever? I know, I know. I'm working on growing a lot this week: humility, realizing that your own ideas are not always the truest and a lesson I certainly need to learn.)
Jenny @ Unremarkable Files said...

I love it. Up until a month ago when it finally broke for good, I had a super-old dumbphone. I haven't yet replaced it which means I have no cell phone at all, just a landline. So I'm pretty much living in 1980.

Alannah Pang said...

I think these are great points, Rachel! I have a smartphone, but there are definitely times I wish I didn't. Sometimes it's nice to not be able to be reached 24/7 ;)

The Lady Okie said...

Gah! I competely agree with your aversion, as I myself was once an anti smart phone person. But I do enjoy having a nice phone to take pictures of my baby. And then email, text, and send digital smoke signals of the cuteness to everyone I know. ;)

Lauren {at} Life.Love.Lauren said...

I resisted getting a smart phone and then nursing school MADE ME. Seriously they required one for us to have access to certain apps while on clinical rotations. You grow into it, but like any phone, there are still times where I just don't take it with me or use it. I like to be a bit disconnected. I still have the barest minimum data plan so I rarely use it out.

Gillian said...

I don't have a smart phone just for the money issue, but when I got my first phone I sounded just like you, honestly! :P The main reason I want a smartphone is to listen to podcasts/audiobooks while I'm driving, without the hassle of CD's and that's something you could try!

Angelique Jurd said...

Hey Rachel - I know so many people like you. It's no secret I love my smart phone but I'm not going to try and change your mind. I will say this though - I control my smart phone, it doesn't control me and that's the trick to a good 'relationship' with one of the beasties. I treat it like a microcomputer and it really comes into its own when I'm working across time zones (being in NZ and my audience mainly being the US and Europe) as I can be warm in bed, and do pretty much everything I need to from it. Ironically - I use it as a phone about once a month lol. You don't have to love it - and you don't have to be controlled by it.

Rea Ninja said...

I was checking if you have a personal Facebook account. ;) I can somehow compare this "episode" of yours to a friend of mine who doesn't have a Facebook account. I'm not sure when she will have one or if she will ever have one. I like what you said about not wearing make up.. even in beauty school.

Unknown said...

It does seem like an end of an era for you, but you held out for so long and for good reasons! I was quite glued to my phone, until it stopped working very well and I started leaving it at home more. Now that I have a new one, I'm trying to keep that up and NOT spend so much time on it. That said, see you on instagram! ;) :)
(ooh, and a Trivia app! It never occurred to me to look for one!)

Mica said...

It's funny as I am a big fan of smartphones - I love the ability to take photos instantly where with a camera you have to get it out the protective bag, take the lens cap off, make sure it's on the right setting...and with a toddler and a dog, the moment is gone. I also see the difference, when my mother spends the day with our toddler there's photos and videos at the end of it (courtesy of her smartphone) where my mother in law doesn't have that so I just hear all the funny moments I don't get to see.

But just past weekend I did a technology fast and it showed me I use my smartphone waaay too much! Instagram is easily my most used app, probably followed by whatsapp and facebook. I have 'headspace' which is a mindfulness mediation app that I really like too. Youversion is a good app to have for multiple bible translations at your fingers, and it's on android and iphone. I haven't put any games on my phone as instagram is enough of a time suck, so sorry I can't be more helpful with apps!

Away From The Blue

shelleystirs said...

I still have a dumb phone, and pretty much the only reason I want a smart phone is to take pictures. My camera is soooo slow.
As far as apps go, I use youversion's Bible app. I also enjoy the games Words with Friends, Ruzzle, and Two Dots. I access all of them via my tablet.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this different perspective because I cannot live without my smart phone! It's a blessing both and a curse. I love that it has a GPS and I can check my email, but I definitely feel connected 24/7 and it can be exhausting. My roommate in college was similar to you- she refused to get one until this past year when she had to.

Michelle said...

I love the way you make a point to live contrary to the rest of society. More and more I've been wanting to do the same.

I've honestly thought about getting rid of my iPhone at some point. James and I have talked about it a lot. I love being able to send pictures to my family and use the Internet when I'm out and about, but more and more it's feeling like more of a burden than a convenience. And more than anything I want to set a good example for Gracie.

Skylar Magazine said...

Good for you girl! You are ahead of me. I don't own a cellphone yet. My mom has a smartphone. It's not that I don't want one, I just can't afford it at the moment. I still can't help but miss the old rotary phones though. I miss picking up a phone, calling a friend. I very rarely speak to friends over the phone anymore. It is pretty sad. Anywho, I really enjoyed reading your post. Hope you enjoy your new phone! Have a wonderful Monday!


Martha Hokenson said...

I used my old Motorola flip phone for seven years and finally had to give it up last fall when it would no longer hold a charge...I think there are lots of things I love about my smartphone, including Instagram, Words with Friends, and being able to Google things on the fly if I need to. I've gotten to the point where I really do love having it, especially since my mom and I can email or text or send pictures to each other on the fly--I really, really love being able to keep in touch with her in so many different ways so very easily, since we hate living so far away from each other! But I agree with all the cons you've listed here. At least mine is a really old Tracfone with a pay-as-you-go plan, so it's hella cheap. I can't imagine shelling out for a new iPhone or whatever.

Kelly said...

I don't have a smart phone, for all the reasons listed above.

But, I am thinking I might finally give in soon. There are a few things I would love to have - nice camera always accessible, Instagram (like you mentioned), and easy access to our You Need a Budget software to input purchases. But, I am still balancing whether that will outweigh the cost and me being on the internet more (which I feel is inevitable).

We'll see! I feel your pain!

Elizabeth said...

I don't have a smart phone yet. In fact, I didn't get my first phone until I was 18 and going off to college. I don't mind not having a smart phone although it would be nice in some situations. One time my clinical group split up into two groups to drive to our clinical site. We knew the general direction, but our car lost sight of the other car and when we got to town we realized that no one in our car had a smart phone! Everyone in the other car did so they arrived to clinical wondering where we were. We were smart phone-less driving in circles around town but eventually we found it and without a GPS!

Aishwarya Shenolikar said...

I'm addicted to my smartphone.. And these are such brutal facts about them.. I was reading and saying, "Damn! That's so true!" Good article. :)

Daisy @ Simplicity Relished said...

You make such good points! Despite agreeing with you, I have come to enjoy having a smartphone. Part of it is that most people expect that others have smartphones now-- so they send last-minute emails regarding events and meetings. It's frustrating, but having a phone on me has helped me stay up-to-date.

Still I admire your tenacity in going against the grain! I'm sad to hear of the girl you mentioned who couldn't not wear makeup around her family and boyfriend. I've heard of women who wake up before their husbands just to put on makeup, and stay up after they've gone to sleep to take off their makeup at night. Awful.

Becky @ Disney in your Day said...

You definitely have some good points, though I agree with others who said that it's about finding the balance of you controlling your phone, not the other way around. There are a lot of benefits to a smart phone so I hope you will find them and use them to your advantage!

I struggled for awhile with wanting to "live differently" for awhile. I didn't wear make-up for so long, and my husband liked me without it, so who cared? But then I realized that *I* liked make-up. I think it's fun to pick out the colors and create different looks with it. I just so badly wanted to be different and not lumped in with "those girls who wear and talk about make-up" that I didn't realize I was actually depriving myself of something I enjoyed! I still don't wear make-up every day, but if I have the time to play with it or for special occasions I have fun putting it on. You may discover the same to be true with your smart phone eventually.

Unknown said...

I agree with many of these points in this post. Yes, people are easily able to contact you, but you are also able to turn your phone on airplane mode so you cannot receive notifications. I tend to do this a lot when I don't want to be bothered

Anonymous said...

Urgh, I have to agree with you. I've owned three smart phones in a row now, all of them gifted by family members and incorporated into a family plan, but good lord, even after being a user for almost five whole years I still don't think I need one. Are they convenient? Heck yes. Do they connect you to the world in wonderful ways and provide integrated support for a variety of media (Kindle books, podcasts, music, Audible, WWW, etc)? Of course. But are they worth the expense and the mindlessness they promote? Not really. Not to me, at least.

Not to sound ungrateful to the wonderful people who have given me such nice gifts as iPhones and a Samsung but when I'm finally tasked with selecting a phone for myself, my only real requirement is that I can type each letter individually to text people quickly in case of emergency, rather than doing progressive num-pad texting.

Suzanne said...

Ha! I also held out for a very long time before succumbing to the smart phone peer pressure. I just got mine about 1.5 years ago. Prior to that I had no phone except some very old thing I kept in the car in case of emergency.

Now that I have the phone I can be like everyone else in line and have something to do while I wait. I like the fact that I can message people but I hate the fact that it takes me out of the present moment. Now that I've turned the page I feel I can never go back to being phone free.


Farrah said...

Major props to you, Rachel! I completely agree with everything you wrote in here (I'm the same way with makeup! But minus the beauty school!), and for the longest time, I was super against getting smartphones for those very reasons. I did end up getting one before grad school started and have (very unfortunately) gotten super dependent on it to look things up while I'm on my rotations. It helps me to keep in touch with friends/family who are thousands of miles away, but I would take spending time with them and with my friends here in person any day! *-* I'm adding you to instagram! :]

Rach said...

I finally got a smartphone a little less than a year ago (last Thanksgiving). I don't think I would have ever gotten one if Christopher hadn't gotten one two years before that. When he got his, I was also elegible for an upgrade, but I chose to stay with my "dumb" phone for another two years instead. However, I discovered how much I enjoyed Instagram on his phone. As well as having access to GPS in my pocket (for as much driving as I do around the city, it has been a life saver). So when I was eligible for my next upgrade (last year), I went ahead and got a smartphone (also a Samsung). It has been less than a year and already I am SO glad for it. Having access to Google anywhere I am has been another wonderful thing for me. :)

I'm with you on being present where you are. That's something I really have tried to teach the teenagers I've mentored. There really is nothing quite like looking around a restaurant and seeing everyone on their phones (sharing photos of their dinner on Instagram, responding to a text, scrolling through Facebook to avoid awkward conversation, etc etc) and no one is speaking to each other. I teased my teens about it, but it's not just teenagers. I see adults and families doing it as well. So that's something I try to be very intentional about.

Anyway, welcome to the world of smartphones! :)

Unknown said...

We live in a world that does force us to use technology but I'm so glad you are striving to be your own person. Thanks for sharing your "Smart Phone Struggle."

Unknown said...

I just want to say I agree with you! The world is too caught up on the next new thing, having to be connected to everything at every moment, all while forgetting about everything in plain sight.

Ali Hval said...

Ahhhhh, I agree that smartphones can be rather life-sucking... but they're also rather convenient, and I know that someone like you will be able to balance that in your life opposed to have your face glued to a screen like many inevitably do. I practice putting my phone away when I'm in the company go others and have many friends that do the same thankfully, so it's definitely possible to not be ~connected~ all the time. I do love how you don't wear makeup and strive to be as comfortable with yourself as possible and I see why smartphones wouldn't be a purchase you'd want to make. And man, do they ever break so easily!

But there will be lots of positives for you getting it which I'm sure you'll discover.

I'm actually very glad my iPhone has GPS because I go on lots of long bike rides by myself and it's an added safety feature if something *were* to happen so my parents could track my location. I mean, that's the last thing you want to think about since we don't want to live in a world where stuff like that does happen, but unfortunately it does and self-prep is something we gave to do until society changes. So if someone at home can track my movements through the Friends app or just track my iPhone in general, it puts me more at ease--and my parents as well, I'm sure!

Lily Fang said...

I can totally resonate--while I do have a smartphone, I also use a prepay plan. It saves me so much money--we pay about $7 a month for talk, text, and data since I rarely use it.

To be honest, though, I'm still more immersed in technology than I like. I make up for my lack of phone use with my ipad mini, and like you mentioned, I'm definitely less attentive to what's happening around me when I have a screen in front of my face. I still remember how, in high school, the table I sat at would tinker around on their phones, and no one would talk to each other. I'd look up every now and then from homework and feel sad that social media and technology has actually made us less social in some respects.

With time, however, I hope you'll find more positives! Like Ali mentioned, they can do some pretty good stuff--I remember reading an article where a man was able to save himself with Siri when he was pinned under a truck. Everything has its benefits and drawbacks!

imperfect idealist

Paige @ Reasons to Come Home said...

Many, many times I wish Cory and I had never had smart phones. Cory will flat out admit that the one thing he couldn't live without is his iPhone and that's scary! Neither of us are brave enough to try and go to a regular phone now, though! Hope the smartphone world has been good to you!