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Friday, November 14, 2014

Nine Months With a Dumb Phone

by LJ:

So there was this one time I went from an iPhone 4 to a Nokia brick phone for nine months.

I downgraded because I was too tight-fisted to pay retail prices for a smart phone and because my inner hipster was reveling in the return to simplicity. (Or maybe it's my inner Luddite. Hard to tell.) I would eschew the time-suck of constant Internet access. I would curb the narcissist that lurks behind every Instagrammer. I would be better than all of you.

Let me spoil the ending for you: I am back in a smart phone. I took this photo with my Droid, which has a far better camera than the fancy point-and-shoot I bought in 2007. I texted it to several people, put it on Instagram, and then reveled in the validation that came rolling in.

So much for a return to simplicity.

However, this has been a return to convenience. This phone obeys some simple voice commands and frankly that makes me a little giddy. I can tell the robot inside to call my husband and it dials him for me. It makes a friendly pinging sound whenever someone validates me on social media or--even better!--tells me where the nearest QT is so I can get a giant cup of crushed ice. (Yes, I don't get out very much.)

All that being said, I don't regret the regression to Dumb Phone. It acted as a kind of reset for me, a chance to clear my head and realize I was becoming a total screen monkey. With my little umbilical charger cord severed, I spent 300% less time on the Internet. I called people instead of texting. I rediscovered how much I hated texting with T9. I paid more attention to my kids. I read more books.

Now that I find myself back among Smart Phone users, I have to find a balance. I can appreciate voice commands, the fancy camera, picture texting, mobile Skype and Voxer. (Seriously guys, it's an app that turns your phone into a walkie-talkie, which should appeal to the 5th grader in all of us.) I can also turn it off, put it down, and remember that my time is too precious to spend constantly losing on Candy Crush.

How do you find a balance?

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Laurie Jayne (LJ) Stradling began her writing career with horrible grade-school poetry (the kind with illustrations in the margins). She has since moved onto blogging and the occasional piece of fiction, which has improved slightly since she gave up the illustrations. LJ is a quiet feminist, a loud mom, a well-kept wife and a fervent believer in prayer. She also believes that most dogs came to the earth after the Fall of Adam. Twitter: @lauriestradling.

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