Life before smartphones was a simple one. It’s funny to think that at one point in my life I was more than happy to have talking, texting, and a camera (megapixel count didn’t matter, any camera would do) and that was it. Seriously. I didn’t need web, I didn’t need apps, I was just happy having a connection to the outside world no matter where I went. Basic communication was my main concern before I was introduced to the world of smartphones.
When I first started at PhoneDog, I had written an article asking readers if they thought that we, as a culture, had become addicted to our smartphones. There was an overwhelming response that many could identify their “relationship” with their smartphone could also be classified as an addiction - myself included. Was life like this for me before smartphones? In some ways I think it was, but there was definitely a lot less for me to do on my cell phone when I didn’t have as many things to do. With my smartphone, it seems like the possibilities are endless. It’s very easy for a person to get sucked in to whatever is going on in their smartphone because there’s always so much going on.
Recently I’ve started wondering how easy (or rather, hard) it would be for me to go back to using a more basic phone. It was an experiment I had tried a couple of years back, and failed rather miserably. My intention was to use a flip phone for 30 days. I didn’t even make it to two weeks before I was dying to have my smartphone back. And now, two years later, I’m starting to get that itch to go back to a simpler time.
At the same time, I look back on that experiment and realize that it’s probably too late for all of that. The reason I think so fondly of my time with a basic cell phone was because I didn’t know any the wiser. There were no smartphones to compare it to. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything because the coolest thing a phone could do at the time was access the web - and web access was miserably slow at best no matter what phone you were using (not to mention difficult to navigate as “mobile friendly” websites were somewhat of a rare find). When you haven’t experienced the luxuries of a smartphone, it’s easy to think that a basic cell phone is the greatest thing ever.
I don’t think I could ever go back and not feel like I was missing out on something at this point.
During that experiment, I realized what I had missed most was the convenience that came from using a smartphone. E-mails, news updates, and the ability to text quickly were important features that I never realized I would miss so dearly. When I went back to a flip phone, I realized just how inconvenient not having these things were. I didn’t have access to e-mail notifications, so I would always have to check my computer to make sure I didn’t miss anything important from work. Without news updates sent to my phone I had to scour them out, which wasn’t too bad, but certainly not what I would consider convenient. Finally, I realized that having to revert back to T9 was... definitely not as cool or as fun as I remembered. I also missed threaded conversations.
There’s a lot more to admire about smartphones, of course, but those were some of the things that I remember missing the most. Going back to a basic phone did limit how much time I spent using my phone compared to how often I used my smartphone, but I also realized that breaking that addictive behavior I experienced before was something that I needed to learn through self control.
So, no, at this point I don’t think I would ever willingly trade my smartphone in for a basic phone. It’s just not the same experience I remember anymore. It was nice at the time, but that's why the word "nostalgia" was invented.