Today I’m wondering how much longer I can hold out against the swirling tide of fingertip technology. So far, I’ve resisted peer pressure to buy myself a Smart Phone, choosing instead to cling stubbornly to the slower pace of hand-written directions and desk-top emails.
Most of the folks I interact with have successfully upgraded to phones loaded with apps. Everything from gps, to email to flashlights to weather and beyond. They’ve evolved.
My dumb phone is tiny, fits in my pocket, takes calls and contains an impressive list of contacts. That’s all I want. It’s fair to say I’m proud of my ability to pull out numbers on demand. I’ve become known as the neighborhood contact list and often receive calls from friends looking for someone’s phone number.
The first thing I did to my dumb phone is disable all the alert tones, making it a quiet phone. I picked the most unobtrusive default ringtone I could find and learned how to turn the ringer off.
I have yet to explore the “Games”, “Bluetooth”, “Mobile Web”, or “Browse and Download” options on my phone’s menu. I don’t even send texts because we didn’t sign up for a text plan. When I receive a text, I return it with a call or an email to save the 15 cents. Besides, it takes me all day to type out a reasonable response using the numbered keypad on my phone.
As regards messaging, Bob has gone one step further and blocked texts from his phone. When someone asks him if he got their text, he can truthfully say “No.” I have not disabled my texting capabilities because I continue to receive texts from work associates and feel it’s in my best professional interests not to block them.
I’m aware of the disadvantages of my decision to remain in the Stone Age. I get lost, for one thing. On such occasions, I have to pull over, put on my glasses and look at the paper map I keep in the trunk.
I don’t get emails from my co-workers until I sit down at my desk which isn’t always soon enough. I’ve made it clear that if you need an answer, better give me a call. I’m often outside and I keep my phone in my pocket.
I’ve had plenty of opportunities to upgrade but have so far refused. I’ve got enough of an email addiction as it is without carrying them with me on my phone. I’ve found that my brain is not good at multi-tasking, so best to keep the inputs to a dull roar.
Considering how the volume of inputs has exponentially increased over the past thirty years, it’s not surprising that staying in the ‘now’ has become a challenge. It’s become increasingly difficult for me to stay in the moment and concentrate on one thing at a time.
Thirty years ago (I was twenty-seven) I had a TV with four channels, a telephone connected to the wall of my apartment and a car with a radio. The TV was silent unless I turned it on. My phone seldom rang. The day I figured out that the new phone jacks could be unplugged from the wall was a day of triumph for me. No more phone ringing during dinner or in the middle of the night! That was before phones had a ringer you could turn off.
Let’s just call my stubborn refusal to upgrade an act of self-preservation. Jenny recently shared a great little Ted talk by Susan Cain called The Power of Introverts which helped me put things in perspective. I’d long been aware that my general mood can best be described as “craving solitude” and it was comforting to know that there are many others like me. People who feel like square pegs trying to insert themselves into round holes or vice versa.
Introverts are people who are fine with quiet time and not so fine when overstimulated. I can go days without listening to music. I’ve got enough going on in my head already without trying to listen to someone else’s creations.
My father used to accuse me of being hyper-sensitive. I cut the tags out of my tee shirts and get dizzy in crowds. Bob says I’m like the princess and the pea and it’s true – if I feel even the slightest grain of sand on the bed sheets, I can’t sleep until I’ve brushed the offending nit away.
Before computers and cell phones made their way into my life, solitude was easily attained. Silence was built into my life. I rode borrowed horses across open country without a cell phone or helmet. I heard the cry of the hawks and the soft whir of geese wngs overhead. I received long letters in the mail and sat in a quiet spot to write a reply.
Thirty years ago I had to go out of my way to find chaos. Today I have to work at finding peace and quiet.
My efforts to keep outside stimulus to manageable levels have been successful for the most part. I turn off my computer before I begin working in the kitchen. I flag non-urgent work emails to answer later. I send emails from friends to a separate folder for answering on rainy weekend mornings. I limit my trips to town to three or four a week if possible.
Last year, I set up a loose schedule designating blocks of time as desk, office, yard work, or housework. I put a non-structured hour in the middle of each day to break it up. I seldom stick to my schedule but it’s still comforting to see my compartmentalized life on paper.
All in all, I’m doing a pretty nice job of maintaining sanity in an increasingly spun-up world. Keeping the noise levels down to a dull roar. Giving myself time to think and enjoy. Feeding my inner introvert. And that is why I plan on keeping my old dumb phone.