Does anyone else have fantasies of just chucking your cell phone, buying a Princess phone (click to see what that is if you don’t know) and just going all commando as you venture into the world? I do. Daily. And I don’t even have anyone calling me except when I am at work.
I got my first cell phone when I was about 25 or 26. I survived 2 children, college and working a full time job without one. Just a landline. I know. This makes me sound like a dinosaur to anyone under the age of 25 today. I only “finally” got a smartphone in 2011 or 2012. An iPhone 4. And I kept it until my birthday let year when my husband surprised me with an 6s plus because my apps no longer worked. It is very pretty (rose gold) and easy to see (comparatively) and it was a most lovely gift I wouldn’t have bought for myself but I feel like a hamster on a wheel I can’t get off of and I don’t like it.
Before my iPhone I had a Tracfone for about 5 years that worked just fine. My only complaint was that texting was tedious. That thing was indestructible. I only finally got an iPhone when the flip phone went pretty much black one day and I NEEDED a phone for work and didn’t have a landline anymore. I <gulp> signed a contract (stupid, stupid, stupid) and paid dearly for my phone. Once the contract was up I switched to a prepaid plan and saved 50% and then I switched to yet another prepaid plan and saved even more. Right now I pay $46.63 per month for 5GB with unlimited everything else and then it just slows down to 3G service which is all I was getting on the iPhone 4 anyway. This is almost a THIRD of what I paid on contract. BUT. When I had my Tracfone, I paid about $10 per month for talk and text. 10 DOLLARS!!
The other issue is that once you have a smartphone, the world is both opened up and more connected. There is a A LOT of temptation to check your phone for not only text messages but Messenger messages, and tweets and likes and pins and OMG what else???? It creates anxiety and this obsessive need to see who is approving of your daily living and breathing and eating. Because we all NEED to see what the F you ate for every meal on vacation. Thanks for that. I couldn’t have gone another minute without knowing.
So for me, being so connected to other people has actually had the opposite effect of it’s intention. We are missing true empathy and connection. I no longer really like people in a general sense (except old people who largely don’t have cell phones and will actually talk to you). I don’t watch the news for a reason (mostly because I don’t have cable but I just really don’t want to know what it going on). Nor do I read the newspaper or listen to the radio much. (I mostly drive around in silence anymore. It is precious silent time.) I don’t watch TV (no cable. And I can’t sit still to watch it anyway). I would MUCH rather go have lunch or dinner or to a bar with you and talk face to face where I can actually tell if you are being serious or sarcastic (always assume I am sarcastic) or pissed or whatever. If we have an argument we can do it face to face and maybe even push each other around a little (wouldn’t that be fun!?! ACTUAL physical contact !) like they do in the movies (that I don’t watch) instead of making round about comments on social media. If you are sad I can hug you for real, not <HUGZ> (again, ACTUAL physical contact with another human being), and just be present in silence if needed. Silence on social media means you are cooking dinner or sleeping or picking your nose or anything else and NOT being there for your friend. “Praying for you” isn’t really helpful when you are shattered. Just sayin’.
Fun little discourse aside, my phone is this thing that I just don’t know what to do with. My lovely spouse paid A LOT of freaking money for it because I don’t do contracts anymore and he bought it outright (yay for husbands who listen!). It IS helpful on trips for navigation (sometimes. I honestly find paper maps more useful. But I’m old and used them for years to find my way) and finding places with gluten free menus and hotels when your hotel sucks (did this in Key West) and some apps save you money with coupons and cash back things that aren’t available on a desk top. It also makes banking easy sometimes. I can TAKE A PICTURE of a check and deposit it. How is that even possible???!!! I am NOT saying that some of this stuff isn’t totally cool and amazing and useful because it is. I just don’t know if it truly adds anything to my life.
For now, this THING seems to be a necessary evil. I don’t want to waste the money spent by not using it. It IS helpful sometimes and makes communication easy with texting and messaging in multiple formats. The coupon thing is lovely and Ibotta and Swagbucks rock. My dream is to find a plan that I can pay for only text and talk and buy “data” only when I need to, say for travel. This would force me to limit my online time to when I am on wifi. The other option is to just use my work phone for everything since, 1. its’ paid for! 2. I can’t get social media on it because it’s blocked. 3. I might be able to get Ibotta and even Swagbucks on it since it’s an iPhone. I just haven’t tried it. Third option is to buy a flip phone to carry when I venture out and experience the freedom of not even being able to access social media when I am not on my desk top. OR I could just leave my phone at home when I go out and be all 1989 and inaccessible. It’s not like I am going into the woods or anything. There will be other people around. Other people who probably won’t notice me because they are too busy looking at their phones and living through a teeny tiny screen when big old me is standing in front of them. But whatever, their loss. Our loss. We all lose. And I guess I don’t really have a perfect answer. Just maybe, when you are out in the world, LOOK UP. Put your phone in your purse with notifications off. Leave it in your glove box. Make eye contact. Smile. Say hello. Talk to the person in line next to you. For realz.
So what about you? What’s your phone fantasy? Do you look up? Drowning in social media yet feel all alone? What do we do about it?
I challenge you to put down the phone today. I am trying too.
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