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Me and my dumb phone: Part 2

A digital detox takes a turn

Nine days ago, I wrote about giving up my smartphone for Lent and using a Punkt MP01 ‘dumb phone’ instead. Today, I’m (spoiler alert) writing about why I’ve gone back to my smartphone.

In my last post, I didn’t really talk about why I wanted to do a digital detox. And as I’ve wrestled with switching back to my iPhone — although carrying on with elements of the detox — it’s made me think about what I wanted from this Lent period.

I don’t think smartphones are intrinsically bad. But I do think some of the ways we use them are pretty damaging. With a digital detox, I wanted to:

  • Stop checking emails and social media first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and multiple times throughout the day.
  • Stop filling every bit of free time — walking to the Tube, brushing my teeth, sitting on the toilet, waiting for the kettle to boil, standing in a queue — with my phone.
  • Escape the constant outrage, one-upmanship and snark of Twitter.
  • Take respite from the exhaustion of non-stop news.
  • Have a break from comparing myself with other people’s lives on Instagram, and boasting about my own.
  • Not get sucked into the cesspit of Facebook.
  • Make a tiny slither of space in my mind to actually think.

Using the MP01 helped with all of the above. It was a glorious week, as I wrote in my first post.

But it also caused a few problems.

  • I missed a couple of important phone calls when people tried to reach me on my usual number.
  • I got lost on the way to a meeting, which resulted in a string of frantic phone calls to Annabel, who attempted to remedy the situation from her workplace. (It’s worth noting that I get stressed out when I’m lost. It’s also worth noting that despite being twenty minutes late, my host didn’t mind. But I did.)
  • Some people didn’t know how to reach me — which defeated the object of having richer levels of communication.
  • There were myriad minor annoyances where I resorted to fetching my iPhone from my bag to remedy the situation.
 My iPhone home screen

My iPhone home screen

It wasn’t missing social media that made me crack. It was the practical stuff — needing directions, not being able to pull up an email with critical information, missing phone calls — that caused the inconvenience.

The MP01 made life more complicated — in some ways, at least. And that’s not what this challenge was about. I wanted to make life simpler, more meaningful.

Our smartphones can make life simpler, and they have done. But it’s important that we keep them in their place.

I want access to the weather, to maps, to my entire email inbox at any time. I want to be able to message my friends for free when they’re travelling in different countries.

But I don’t want the constant distraction, the endless notifications, the compulsion to check my phone at every available opportunity.

For the rest of Lent, I’ll be on my iPhone. But the notifications are off and I won’t be checking Instagram on the loo. And, fingers crossed, I won’t be getting lost again. Well, not without maps to save me.

Luke Leighfield6 Comments