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 evening...so 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 right-est...is a lesson I certainly need to learn.)