Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dumbing Down : An experiment in un-smartphoning my life!

It has come to my attention that I spend too much time with my iPhone welded to the palm of my hand, too much time gazing at the same old pointless crap on a variety of social media sites, too much time documenting events through the lens and screen of my smart phone rather than experiencing them as me!  Something had to change but, I didn't really know where to start...

My beloved iPhone 7 fell on the floor last Tuesday.... the microphone stopped working as did half of the touch screen, this meant the only way to make and receive calls was via speaker phone, and I couldn't see or read anything properly...a huge pain in the ass for a Smartphone junky like me.

Conscious of the approaching launch of the new iPhone, I was loathed to spend a few hundred on a repair and so I spent a day without my social media fix, until I remembered my old iPhone languishing at the back of my office drawer.. I found said iPhone 6, gave it a quick clean and fired it up, normal service was resumed.. Top Job!

I have been an iPhone junky from day one, having bought, used and discarded every single model since it's launch 10 years ago, eagerly awaiting each update and leap forward in the ability of this incredible, revolutionary mobile communication device, overjoyed at how I could be anywhere in the world and be in touch with everything and everyone that I did and didn't need in my life at the swipe of a touch screen. Agog at the ability to capture every detail of my daily events in hi-res video or photo and share my pointless crap with the world in an instant, the iPhone had become so seamlessly integrated into my life that many of it's functions have subconsciously become part of my everyday routine. Wake up check mail, check weather, make coffee whilst reading headlines, eat breakfast and read news, get kids off to school peruse Facebook, do some practice whilst checking Twitter and Facebook, watch crap on Youtube, check weather, make lunch, take picture of lunch, share funny video....the depressing list goes on...

In fact, it wasn't until my wife remarked how it was nice to have me "in the room" for a day when my iPhone broke, that I really thought about the amount of time I waste on the damn gadget. It was actually quite depressing to think about how this little bit of Tec had become such an important part of my life in the last 10 years.

So, this was it, my wake up call...I was going to bin the smartphone and go old skool, but how?

One of the regular things for me to gaze at on the old iPhone was a Tec magazine, I remembered reading about a re-boot of my pre-smart phone favourite, the legendary Nokia 3310, and so after doing a bit of research I decided this was to be my new "unsmart" phone.

Some further research proved that it was pretty much impossible to find any of the Swiss phone retailers stocking or even having said bit of kit available to order, mainly because they can't make any money selling their all inclusive data, TV, internet packages with such a unit.
I delved a bit further and found an electrical retailer stocking them for 60CHF . I thought that was a misprint as I'd become so used to spending several hundred on each new iPhone but, nevertheless, set off in the car to get myself un-smarted and re-acquaint myself with NOKIA!

Upon entering said store, I walked past the APPLE section with its drool worthy tec, streamlined furniture and minimalist display racks, past the rows and rows of competing Android smart phones until, at the end of the store, almost unnoticed, I found a bin of Nokia 3310's piled up like crappy CDs in a bargain bin at TESCO. I picked one up and looked over it's packaging... it looked like a toy, no fussy box and glossy print...just a plastic blister pack which displayed said phone, mounted on a half cardboard box with some jazzy colour print on the side. It looked cheap, cool and familiar yet subtly modernised from the classic model, after remembering to get a SIM card adapter to supersize my nano SIM, I headed off to pay and asked if the price was actually 60CHF...

The phone guy laughed and said "Yes of course, it doesn't do anything except phone and SMS...oh and snake, it's proper old school but it does have Bluetooth!"

That's just the job then, I handed over my cash and headed home.

In the box was an actual battery, the handset, a pair of earphones (with cable) and a micro USB charger with the plug attached, which I suddenly remembered seemed to break on an almost weekly basis with my old 3310. After breaking a fingernail and almost losing my religion, I managed to get the back off the thing, then I had to strip the iPhone of it's SIM, having lost the little tool I fashioned a paperclip to do the job and eagerly slid it into the receiving slot of the 3310,  I put in the battery, (when was the last time you did that in a phone?) and fired it up....

My experiment in Dumbing Down had started...

I was warmly greeted by the classic NOKIA tones, like welcoming back an old friend, even if the operating system coming to life, cruelly cut short the last note! After downloading the software thoughtfully supplied by my service provider so I could use it on their modern 4G network, I was asked to pair it with my old iPhone to sync contacts via Bluetooth/Slam, this came as something of a relief as I had almost foreseen having to type in the names and numbers of everyone on my contacts list. It worked flawlessly and I was ready to go...no Facebook, no WhatsApp, no you tube, no FaceTime and no bloody anything by the looks of it....At least i've got snake!

Living life with a "Dumb Phone"

So, the new 3310 has been in my life for almost a week, has anything changed and did the world stop turning? Well it's still early days, aside from being both cruelly mocked for my foolishness on Facebook (via my desktop Mac of course) and admired for my bravery in equal measure. I have, it seems, been set free..Here are my observations - 

Aside from the obvious outcomes of not checking my phone every 5 minutes, or staring at it whilst lounging on the sofa. I'm finding I have more time to do important things and practice more drums...Even my wife is happy! Although this probably has more to do with me tidying the garden for the approaching winter than my lack of smart phone but, one situation created the other...as it were.

It was a massive re-learning curve navigating the old NOKIA menu with a little button and I found myself on many occasions cursing as I couldn't just touch the screen to make it work.

I have yet to master unlocking the bloody thing, the camera is rubbish and I can't send picture messages anyway without buying a micro SD card for extra memory space.

I have struggled with sending SMS which seems to take FOREVER using the alphanumeric keypad.. Using actual keys, who'd have thought? And getting the thing to pair with my car was a mission, I have to do it manually each time I get in, where as the old iPhone paired automatically. Also being a Dumb Phone it won't display any names or phone book info via my Volvo Connect in-car system, just phone numbers, the upshot of which means I'm actually remembering numbers for the first time in a decade!

The boys have asked why I have a toy phone instead of an iPhone, they don't ask to play on it anymore.

Friends who have seen the experiment in action, have been curious and to a man, have all wanted to have a look and a go on the NOKIA...every single one has, without exception, tried to touch the screen to make it work...and every single one has had to have a go on SNAKE !

Some have even gone so far as to express an interest in getting a ""dumb phone" themselves now that they've seen it can be done.

Personally, after the initial feeling of being "Cut Off" I am enjoying the freedom of not being a slave to the smart phone, I check my emails on my desktop Mac at lunch time and I take ages to answer anyone who sends me a text..I've even read an actual paperback book (Backseat Bedroom by Nick Andrew) I have tried to use the internet on it backstage at a concert but it was so time consuming and crap that I went for a walk instead...bonus!

So far so good, will I make a month? will the new iPhone lure me back into smartphone slavery? Who knows, i'll give it a shot and see how it goes but, for now, the outlook is decidedly a positive one!

Oh yes, 6 days in and I haven't had to charge it up which means I haven't yet broken the charger!!

PS: If you've tried to call me and I haven't answered, try again..I'm still trying to unlock the damn thing!

PPS: If you're waiting for a text reply from me, be patient..it takes bloody ages!

PPPS: If you've tried to WhatsApp me...send a text please!

No comments:

Post a Comment