• Patrick McAndrew

Are People With Dumbphones Missing Out?

Smartphones have been around for over ten years and it’s safe to say that they have made a substantial influence on society in the way we interact and communicate with one another.  While I was still in high school when the iPhone premiered in 2007, it wasn’t until my college years, around 2010-2012 that I started to see the smartphone become mainstream.

Thinking back on it, it was an interesting time.  A couple people would whip out their new smartphones phones here and then a few others there.  Smartphones were wickedly expensive and my classic dumbphone was working fine, so I never felt the need to get one.

As the years progressed and apps were becoming all the rage, I noticed more and more people jumping on the smartphone train.  Eventually, us dumbphone people became a rare breed and we got super excited when we saw someone else who didn’t have a smartphone.  “You don’t have a smartphone, either?!  That’s amazing!!”  There was a special bond between those of us who didn’t yet have smartphones.  Whether it was for financial or personal reasons, just the fact that we didn’t have the latest and greatest technological gadget was comforting.  Because everyone else had a smartphone, the few of us who had dumbphones formed a special bond and had to stick together!

I look back at those moments with fondest.  But, as is customary, times change and the world progresses.  Now, I am one of the few I know that still does not have a smartphone.  I do know a few older people who do not have smartphones, but I don’t know anyone my age who does not have a smartphone.  That would be crazy!

Are people with dumbphones, like myself, missing out?  Society paints a clear picture.  OF COURSE THOSE THAT DON’T HAVE A SMARTPHONE ARE MISSING OUT!  Do you know how much you can do on a smartphone?  Texts, phone calls, buy things, search things, snapchat, Facebook, tweet, Instagram, Venmo, Whatsapp, Tinder, Facetime, Vine (no…too soon?), YouTube, take pictures, take videos, catch a ride, GPS, check if there is traffic.  WHY WOULDN’T YOU HAVE A SMARTPHONE?!

I still have no strong desire to have a smartphone.  People roll their eyes.  I get comments from time to time.  Some people admire the decision, some people strongly disagree, and others look at me as if I had twelve heads.  A friend of mine from an acting course I took recently asked, “How do you get around the city?!”  I said, “I look up where I am going before I leave my apartment and write out directions.”  He looked amazed, as if I was a magician! (I wish…I’m a great audience when it comes to magicians.  If you are a magician, let me know and I will come to your next show).

I am not alone in my choice.  Many people are actually starting to purchase dumbphones, like the Nokia 3310.  People are beginning to strive towards simplicity and digital minimalism.

Out of all the things that a smartphone can do, there is really only one thing that I wish I could do and that is requesting an Uber or Lyft.  Unfortunately, because of my limitations, when I am in this position, I have to rely on other friends to call me a ride (thanks, friends!).  Besides this, I never feel the need for a smartphone.

I do miss out on immediacy.  I can’t check my e-mail at a moment’s notice.  If a change of plans happens, I can’t check my e-mail, though I will usually inform people to let me know via text message.  Then there is the Uber thing.  And that…well…that is probably it.  I guess I don’t know what I don’t know.  And this is the trap.

Society makes us believe that we need all this stuff and the tech companies do a good job at hooking us.  I have a cell phone for texting and phone calls.  And I can receive pictures! (just in case you didn’t know).  Everything that I need access to from the online world I can access from my laptop.  So I don’t really know what I am missing out on.

For those who are constantly on their phones all of the time, I believe they are missing out on much more.  On life.   They are missing out on having deep conversations and meaningful experiences.  With a smartphone constantly at their disposal, how deep and meaningful can you really get?  By having a dumbphone, I feel that I can be more present and focused in my daily life and I wouldn’t want anything threatening that.

All the same, I know a handful of people who have smartphones who do not check them constantly.  They have developed great habits while enjoying the perks that a smartphone offers.  I truly believe these people to be the kings of the crop.  But they are indeed a rare breed, for there are so many others who prioritize their phones over real-life experiences.

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference.  Some people love the city, while others love the country.  Some people like going to the beach, and others the mountains.  And some people thrive off a constant connectivity to the online world, while others prefer some distance from their virtual existence.  All that said, it’s important to analyze your behaviors, how your time is spent, and be proud of how you are living your life with the relationships you build.

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