Fighting the Smartphone Monkey on Your Back

As he has written in the past, The Curmudgeon was late to the smartphone party – and for reasons that go beyond his dislike of the very word “smartphone.” He’s had one now for more than two years, however, and he sees their merits and cannot envision any circumstances, other than purely financial, under which he would choose to ditch his smartphone in exchange for, well, a dumbphone.

But others are apparently doing exactly that.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently wrote about such people.

Exactly one year ago, Roman Cochet swapped his $500 iPhone 7 for a $30 LG flip phone.

Overwhelmed by constant alerts, Cochet felt his time was disrupted, his creativity drained. His flip doesn’t do email, Instagram, Facebook, Uber, or news alerts. The 30-year-old Parisian painter, who lives in Brooklyn, said he regrets nothing.

“With a smartphone, you spend so much time texting, talking, in constant communication, that you don’t have time to do anything else,” Cochet said. “I’m way more focused now on what I’m doing. I’m less distracted.”

 Cochet said some of his artist friends dismiss his choice of phone as a hipster affectation, an artist’s asceticism. But his studio, scattered with paint cans and empty beer bottles, is now void of a smartphone’s distractions. The phone itself is a throwaway object smeared with paint, the keypad indiscernible.

Cochet said he’s also become more connected to other people (he remembers the bodega cashier’s name) — and more present in the moment. “I’m way more conscious of my surroundings than if I was on my screen,” he said. “I have friends who struggle looking at a subway map. I think people should throw their phone away. It would be good for them.”

The Curmudgeon doesn’t mean to pick on this guy because he’s only being used in the article as an example of folks who are abandoning their smartphones, but…



Spending too much time talking and texting?  Then DON’T TALK AND TEXT.

Disturbed by constant alerts?  TURN THEM OFF!

Or better yet, UNSUBSCRIBE!

You KNOW you’ve seen scenes like this

No one’s holding a gun to your head, forcing you to use, or use extensively, every feature the smartphone offers.  Even when The Curmudgeon was using a dumbphone, for example, he made it clear to almost everyone with whom he interacted that he was not interested in receiving text messages or phone calls on the cell phone (as opposed to his home phone) except in cases of emergency or unless arranged beforehand.  He doesn’t recall anyone failing to respect his wishes, either.

He also didn’t give his cell phone number to most people.  He had a landline phone at home and if people wanted to reach him, they could call him there and leave a message.  At no time, The Curmudgeon recalls of his pre-smartphone days, did more than about a dozen people have his cell phone number, and most of those had the same last name that he has.

Remember messages?  Remember voice mail? The Curmudgeon read recently that people are no longer leaving messages – often, because they know no one’s listening to them.  In fact, The Curmudgeon has a few co-workers who don’t leave messages if he’s not at his desk when they call, which he finds absolutely infuriating.

The point here is that people need to grow up.  At the risk of seeming like an old fuddy-duddy – which is, come to think of it, a second cousin of a curmudgeon – folks need to take responsibility for their actions.  A smartphone doesn’t MAKE you answer a text, REQUIRE you to spend time chatting with your friends, or TWIST YOUR ARM into spending your time on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever the kids are doing with their phones these days.  (Okay, the “whatever the kids are doing these days” comment is definitely more fuddy-duddy than curmudgeon.)

And…learning the name of the guy at the bodega?  Please:  don’t do that.  Just don’t do that.  You don’t really care and he doesn’t care, either.  In fact, he probably finds it kind of creepy.

And one final bit of advice for those who choose to step back into the 20th century: enjoy your choice but don’t start proselytizing on its behalf, because if you do, pretty soon you’ll be able to go back to a smartphone because no one’s going to want to talk to you and no one’s going to want to text you because no one likes a know-it-all who tells them their way is better than yours.

How does The Curmudgeon know this?  BECAUSE HE KNOWS.

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