Unsolicited Advice Friday is a weekly injection of sass where you’ll hear exactly what I think you should do. Did you ask for it? No way. Am I going to tell you anyway? Yes, yes I am.
My mom is going to give me one big, fat I told you so for this post. Just a couple of weeks ago, I called to tell her that she absolutely needed to get an iPhone. Replace that dying flip phone with the broken hinge with a smart phone. Then we could Facetime, I said! And get picture texts in a resolution that you could actually see! It’s the best!
Yup, here’s me eating my words. Why?
Because I got marketed, and so did you.
Smart phones are amazing. Everyone has one. You’ll never get lost or be disconnected or have a bad meal ever again. Why? Because you have the internet at your fingertips, and the internet is magic.
I bought into the idea. For four years, I’ve had either an iPhone or an Android phone with me from alarm to nightly recharge. I’ve stayed connected to my email, maps, bus routes, restaurant recommendations, and instant fact checking. I’ve had the world wide web of information at my disposal, just like they said I would.
It’s been great, but here’s what they don’t tell you…
What you learn when your smart phone sucks.
For many typical smart phone activities, my phone has turned into a big pile of fail. Closing in on two years old, it’s running out of memory, so I can’t run Facebook, Twitter, or any other app that can’t be saved to an Android’s SD card. The battery is dying, so in order to keep it going throughout the day, I have to limit how much I use it.
When your smart phone is a dumb phone with email, you get to peek behind the marketing. Do you want to know the secret? Smart phones are hella useful, but they’re not necessary.
Look at me like I’m crazy, but think about it…was your life any less enjoyable before you had a smart phone? Okay, stop thinking about the braces that you had when you were 15 and how it would have been nice to know that Johnny’s relationship status had just changed to it’s complicated with Jennifer.
Was is any less enjoyable to have to wait to check your email when you got home? To read a book on the bus instead of posting to Twitter? To go on an adventure to find someplace to eat and end up talking to the jovial looking people walking out of the bistro with take home boxes?
Do you find yourself checking in with the internet WAY too often. Like you won’t know if the world has ended unless you read your Twitter stream? (Trust me, you’d find out eventually.) Is there a endless supply of email, Facebook, and People.com in your life?
Being connected 24/7.
It’s really great at first, and then it sucks. Life is lived outside of the internet. Connecting is about more than information streams, it’s about understanding people by looking them in the eyes, it’s when you play board games sitting across from each other, and it’s the deep inhale you take on a walk where the only thing you can check is whether or not you can see your breath.
When you check your email 24/7, you get little bursts of stress throughout your day when a new request or a misinterpretation hits your inbox. When you constantly live in Instagram, you spend your life taking in what you see through the lens instead of breathing in the whole picture. When you use Yelp as a crutch to finding what’s open, you miss out on the joy of the adventure.
Because our smart phones are in our pockets all day, we use them all day. But, what if we put a little distance between ourselves and the internet?
Finding the alternatives.
What if we bought dumb, flip phones that let us call and text our friends and family instead? What if we bought a tablet with a 4G connection that we could choose to bring with us when we traveled so that we could access the internet when we needed it and just as easily shut it off for days at a time?
I think there is a way to mix the magic of the internet with the beauty of disconnecting.
Take the plunge.
As soon as our family plan is up this summer, I’ve convinced The Mister to ditch our smart phones and go back to phones that do the basics, 2006 pre-iPhone style. We’re going to buy a mini iPad to share. That way, for circumstances such as when we travel, we have an easy and mobile way to connect to maps and information like hey-when-does-the-park-close or what-was-that-restaurant-our-friend-emailed-us-about-again.
I’m giving up my smart phone, and so should you.
Okay, at least think about it, and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.