You know, I receive a lot of questions and attention from friends, family members, and complete strangers regarding my decision to not own a smart phone. I might as well give the whole world an explanation after all of these years of using unrecognizable cellular ring tones.
Let me start from the beginning. There was a time in college when I actually owned a smart phone with its very own data plan. Oh, yea. It was a sleek, cranberry-red, blackberry touch that obviously operated as slow as molasses and consequently, killed time like nobody’s business. I can’t quite remember how long this cellular epoch lasted before I was abruptly shaken awake from my smart phone slumber. However, I can clearly recall the day that an unsettling feeling swept over me on one of my typical 40-minute city bus commutes into campus as I tapped through the pixelated world of Facebook on my phone.
Without warning, I suddenly looked up from my device, straightened my posture, and recognized the active world around me. A really intelligent word such as, “Whoa,” popped into my head as I scanned my surroundings and realized that I had no idea as to what part of University Avenue the bus was cruising down or what kind of coat the person sitting across from me was wearing…come to think of it, I had not even noticed a person sitting there before!
And that was that. Goodbye smart phone. Of course, my willpower to resist buying smarter technology has only strengthened over time as I dive through each wave of better and brighter Apple Iphones (and now, watches?) released to the public.
When I first explain that I, in fact, do not own a smart phone to the more advanced phone users of this world, I am typically met with wild eyes and an obvious question mark knitted into their furrowed brows. But more often than not, I am faced with this age old question:
“So…what kind of phone is it? A dumb phone?”
To which, I gently laugh and somewhat lamely reply,
“Haha, guess so. It just works for calls and text messages—oh, AND it has a physical Qwerty keyboard that slides out of it.” (Don’t know what that is? Look at the first 6 letters of your Iphone’s keyboard.)
And yea, I am going to be honest and say that I probably do not bring all the boys to the yard with my basic-phone-shake. However, similar to an 80-year old woman who could care less about the accomplishments of Kim Kardashian’s ass, I likewise, do not care about owning a smart phone or Ms. Kardashian’s ass. I have my own ass to steer out of trouble and that is quite enough for me to think about.
Ok, and by now, I am sure you are wondering how I am scraping by in life without the use of apps such as, Snapchat, Uber, Google Maps, Facebook messenger, Tinder, and that app that allows you to search for other people in your area who just want to have a quick cuddle…!
Well, my friend, that is just the best part of not owning a smart phone. Without the use of apps to make my life “easier,” I am forced to accomplish tasks such as navigating my way to new destinations, planning my transportation, interacting with friends, and mingling with other singles, all without the help of the internet! And you know what ends up happening? I get lost, or stranded, or start talking to a guy who I think is cute in person and realize after a few minutes of conversation that I am not actually interested in him. But when I do get lost or stranded, I simply ask for directions. And if I were to get lost in a remote location where there were no people in sight to help, I can bet that your smart phone wouldn’t be receiving a signal either.
Recently, I walked in the complete wrong direction while trying to find my hostel in a small Australian mountain town. You know what I did? I continued walking down the main street, gulped down my first few breaths of mountain air, bought myself a passionfruit waffle, and later, found a street map to send me in the right direction.
(It was worth getting lost for)
Essentially, I am constantly challenging myself to experience the human condition and to be present to it. I mean, what would happen if I took a seat in a restaurant, began swiping away on Tinder (which, I have actually never done), and an attractive man happened to sit down at the table across from me? I would likely be too preoccupied with my phone to notice he was there or to give myself that extra shove to initiate the conversation that is often induced by a few rounds of direct eye contact made between two people.
That’s what we’re missing here folks! Our necks are constantly bowed in reverence to our phones. If you are spending time in a public place and find yourself bored or trying to appear important by tapping on your phone, just stop. Please. By allowing yourself to be bored by the everyday mundane details of life, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed when the other grand parts of life fail to meet your expectations. And believe me, they will.
Once, I waited in the patient room at the doctor’s office for 30 minutes before I could be seen. Of course, I started out absolutely frustrated and all I could think about was my upcoming trip to Australia and how much fun I would have there. And then it hit me, there will be plenty of waiting while I am in Australia…I mean, the plane rides from New Orleans to Sydney take 22 hours alone!
So, I did what any 25-year old would do alone in an exam room—I laid down on the exam table and started making funny faces in the mirror across the room because I was never getting those 30 minutes of my life back and I refused to spend them in misery.
And yea, maybe I could have passed the time catching up on Facebook posts if I had owned a smart phone. But just think for a second, how many memories have you made with your Facebook app? Were you really catching up with old friends all of those times you logged in while distracting yourself from work, or were you looking for a simple, mindless distraction to pass the time?
Pass the time.
I hate that. Our lives are whipping by so fast and we barely realize it until it’s our 30th, 40th, 50th, birthday and suddenly, we can not understand where time went. Yet, we spent so much of our time wishing it would fly by?
If it is all the same to you, I will continue to venerate the passing time, not with a phone, but with the inhale of a flower along my walk, the smile exchanged with a stranger, and with the spacial awareness of a woman who has her two eyes planted firmly in the world around her.