At the beginning of 2018 I wrote about why my husband and I decided to give up our smartphones and replace them with “dumb phones” and also what happened when we did. It has now been one whole year since we made the switch, so I thought I would reflect back on how things have gone.
To be honest, it’s really not even necessary to start weighing up the positives versus the negatives – it’s no contest! Switching to dumb phones was, and still is, one of the best things we have ever done.
Our mental health was a big factor in our decision and I can honestly say we are now calmer and happier than ever before. We talk more, and are also much more efficient and productive now that our phones are not sucking hours out of our day. We feel more motivated, more present and more grateful for everything in our lives.
Being smartphone-free has given us the opportunity to closely observe the smartphone-obsessed world around us, and mainly it just leaves us feeling sad at how disengaged people have become, from other people and from real experiences.
A couple of weeks ago I stopped in the shopping centre to watch some school children singing Christmas carols. It was a lovely experience, but I observed a parent beside me spend the first 5 minutes taking a video, the next 5 uploading it onto social media, and the remainder of the time checking the phone every time it pinged when someone liked or commented on the video. I just wanted to grab them and shake some sense into them!
The reaction from other people when they see our phones is usually bemusement, and quite often pity. My husband was once publicly shamed by a complete stranger when they saw his phone and laughed. It was clear they felt sorry for him. He really wanted to tell them that the feeling was mutual – he felt sorry for THEM because of the type of phone they owned, a smartphone.
Now, I’ll hold my hands up and say there was one minor relapse during the year. We had our first baby (it really is amazing what you can accomplish when you’re smartphone-free!) and we switched back to our smartphones when I was in hospital so we could get some half-decent photos when baby arrived, send group messages to friends and family with updates, and also for some entertainment during my slow labour!
However, we were home with baby for a week when we realized we hadn’t switched back to our dumb phones yet. I couldn’t believe that after 9 months of being blissfully smartphone-free, as soon as those damn smartphones were back in our hands we were hooked again!
This relapse reminded us of just how powerful and controlling our smartphones were and reinforced their addictive nature, making us even more passionate about giving them up.
I was asked recently if I will ever go back to having a smartphone and the honest answer is that I really hope not. Right now I really don’t want to and in a whole year of being without, I haven’t encountered any major challenges that made me feel like I needed to.
Sure, we take much fewer photos than we used to (which is actually a positive I think), we occasionally have to ask people for directions and clients have to wait a few hours for a reply to an email, but nothing has made me think “oh scrap this, I actually really need a smartphone”. We never needed them. We just wanted them.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…giving up our smartphones – smartest decision ever!