I’ve always loved the online world.
To me, the online world is often the one place where I feel accepted, the place where I’m free to share my opinion, and the place where I’m free to express myself any way I want. Whether it’s writing mile long posts (that no one cares about) on Facebook, or sharing a picture of the wonderful places I’ve been (that no one cares about) on Instagram, social media in general felt like an escape to me. An escape that this introvert needs.
But, even though I felt free to do whatever I wanted on social media, I often felt caged by it as well.
I’m a person that likes doing things. Reading a book, listening to music, going out for a walk, watching an interesting documentary on Animal Planet, going to an event, trying out new recipes, even if it means I get stuck with an awful dish I have to finish by myself, which is often the case since I suck at cooking.
I’m ashamed to admit that others have noticed my problem even before I did. My friends and my family have been scolding me for keeping my eyes glued to my smartphone, and my excuse was always that I’m reading a book on it. Which technically wasn’t a lie, and it wasn’t the raw truth either, since I don’t think many people consider fanfics to be actual ‘books’, but that’s another article for another day.
It was only recently, during the second half of 2016 that I started noticing it too.
I started noticing that I’d sit on the couch with my smartphone in my hands for three hours, that I’d sneak out of my room at 2 AM to go to the living room because the wifi connection is stronger there, that my eyes were glued to my phone when I’m around friends who want to talk to me, that I started paying less attention to my lectures because I was taking advantage of my college’s free WiFi, that whenever I have a story to tell, I somehow have to tie it back to something on my phone.
I hated the control that this device had me under.
So, somewhere around October of 2016, I searched through a lot of old shoe boxes to find an old phone. I was absolutely positive my family had at least one stashed somewhere, since my dad doesn’t really get rid of them after he gets a new one. And I found it, my mother’s old Nokia E72.
It was a simple phone, and while it’s still considered somewhat of a smartphone, I knew it would do the job.
So, with a heavy heart I gave my phone away. And don’t think that it was an easy process. I’m an absolute hoarder, so I had around 20 apps on my phone, a little over 400 songs, and I’d say a bit under 10,000 photos (I can actually hear the desperate cries of iPhone users in the distance). There was a lot of moving back and fourth with all the material I didn’t want to lose, mainly the photos, which ended up on my separate SD card. And after a full day of digital moving and erasing, I was done.
My “new” phone had nothing but the contacts from my SIM card, and my old smartphone had been set back to it’s factory settings.
It felt so different, so fresh, so… scary. I went from having all of this hoarded material, all of these memories, all of these files, all of this data, to having zilch.
The question you’re probably wondering right about now is- was it worth it?
The overall answer to that would be yes. I felt a distinct freedom in not being able to check Facebook every fifteen minutes, not getting notifications from Twitter every second, not being able to scroll through Instagram when I’m bored.
The only purpose my phone now had was to make calls, send texts, set an alarm, and play a game while I’m waiting for food at restaurants. That is it.
With my newfound freedom, I was able to notice how attached other people are to their smartphones as well. And to be completely honest with you- it bothers me. It bothers me when I’m with a group of friends and they’re all staring at their phones, or when I’m trying to talk to someone but they’re too busy focusing on the three other people they’re chatting with via Facebook’s Messenger. In the beginning, I’ve tried to initiate a conversation, but eventually I just gave up and talked to someone else, or stared into blank space.
The thing I thought would cause me a lot of trouble was the music. I had over 400 songs on my phone, everything you could imagine- from Eminem, Panic! At The Disco, and Bon Jovi’s hits, to High School Musical songs, Ed Sheeran’s classics, and just about every song One Direction have performed in their existence (in case you’re wondering, that’s about 150+ songs just by 1D). This, however, didn’t seem to faze me as much as I thought it would. Huh.
I quickly grew accustomed to this old Nokia E72. I rediscovered what it’s like to not have to charge your battery for a full week or so. And when it’s empty, you don’t have to run and get the charger plugged in at the very same second. My phone has been beeping for a day or two, indicating that it’s in need of a charge, but it hasn’t died on me yet. Even as I’m typing this, it beeps every hour or so, but I’m just too lazy to get up and plug it in, knowing he’ll survive for a few more beeps.
But not all is easy in this smartphone-free world. My main issue is that people just casually assume that you have a smartphone, so when you need something -to check a fact or to share a file- they automatically assume that you can do that on your phone, which isn’t quite the case.
Another one of the things I miss is the opportunity to snap a pic whenever I want. A simple act, really, which most people have grown accustomed to. I miss seeing a beautiful view and not being able to photograph it- simple as that. It’s these random, seemingly unnecessary things that we used to take for granted until it was taken away from us that we miss the most.
If you offered me the newest and the very best smartphone that’s on the market right now, would I take it? Well, I would, because who in their right mind wouldn’t accept a brand-new-and-extremely-overpriced-smartphone, but I’d still be committed to my Nokia. Maybe I’d just use the new one to listen to music and snap pics every now and then, but eventually, at the end of the day I’d still choose to bring the Nokia with me and make it my primary phone.
However, if you forced me to choose between a brand-new-and-extremely-overpriced-smartphone and my old Nokia, I’d pick the Nokia without hesitation.