It’s been a year since I gave up my smartphone, which is one of the most interesting things I’ve done in a while. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, but there comes a time in your life where you have back up and take a break.
I had two or three different social-media apps — you know the ones. It was always a challenge to keep up with all of them, and I found them incredibly distracting, especially at the most inconvenient times.
It started to interfere with my studies, too — my time management is subpar at best and any time to myself or scheduled study time was spent on my phone. It was a great distraction from all the people around me while I waited on the bus to go home, but it was clear that the phone was eating into my life.
I finally decided to take a breather and settle for something less distracting by downgrading to a flip phone instead. I could still get phone calls and texts, but as for my fancy touch screen and QWERTY keyboard, I was now faced with T9 and the good old-fashioned telephone keypad.
The first few months were difficult. I felt the itch to reach into my pocket every five minutes and check my apps even though my phone seldomly went off. Each time, I was reminded that I only had my flip phone, and despite these annoyances, it was liberating.
I wasn’t worried about my phone running out of charge during the day, and I didn’t have to worry about checking it constantly since there are a total of about three people that I talk or text on the regular.
Did I mention the constant reactions of shock and awe when others saw such an archaic piece of technology whenever I pulled it out to answer a call?
Eventually, I was confident and happy with my choice. I was content with leaving everyone and everything online on hold, and I was still able to relax after school with my laptop, returning all the messages when I could. I now have a certain time set aside for social media in my downtime rather than letting it interfere with my family or studies.
There are times when I definitely missed having a smartphone. Being in Place Riel surrounded by people who had their faces buried in their devices was one instance. Another was going to a restaurant and hanging with my friends while their faces were buried in their devices as I twiddled my thumbs, missing out on the latest “hilarious” meme being passed around.
I started noticing an anomaly of social interaction that only smartphone users exhibited, and somehow, I felt uneasy. It appeared that having a smartphone blurred the line between what was considered “rude” and what was completely “normal” — like yanking out your phone to reply to messages or check social media in the middle of a faceto-face conversation.
Taking a break has shown me that we are all connected yet disconnected at the same time.
This whole experience has taken me back about 10 years, technologically speaking. My flip phone does not have a decent camera worth taking pictures with, so I have to carry a digital camera on and off now. I’ve also had to trade my beloved Spotify playlists for my old 80GB iPod.
Being smartphone free has forced me to realize that some things just aren’t that important, and it has definitely given me more free time to just sit back and be more open. Maybe, one day, I will get back on that train again, but I will always know that the option to take a time out is there.
Photo: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor