In Celebration of Dumb Phone, a Rare Sanity-Saving Gadget

    It’s gone. It’s not the slab that I have in my pocket, which we call the smartphone.

    Yes, the device can act as a phone. It can also be used as a mobile phone, tablet, camera, console, TV, or wallet. I don’t know what else it does. One thing is certain: the iPhone has never been called a phone.

    It is easy to forget how vast the capabilities of a smartphone are. It’s easy to forget how vast a smartphone’s capabilities are. Smartphones are powerful tools, especially for math nerds who have lost billions of dollars overnight.

    My smartphone has made my life so much easier, and I don’t want to give it up. But it has also caused me some problems. My brain. Although the smartphone allows us to check on everything instantly and continuously, including news and loved ones, it can also affect our attention spans and mental health as well as our relationships. Recently, I discovered that I don’t remember many of the concerts I went to. I was too busy recording hundreds of videos and sharing them via Instagram. Funny thing is, I didn’t even watch the videos afterward. I only watched them when I had to delete them.

    It’s my desire for the inexpensive dumb phone to come back, and I’m so happy it’s doing so as more Generation Zers embrace it. I need a break. As long as my iPhone is so good, I don’t think I’ll give it away. While waiting to get my coffee fix, I need a phone without apps that I can’t use to distract me from the news or FOMO-inducing vacation pictures. I need a phone that doesn’t have a camera so I can enjoy the moment with my newborn nephew while he smiles at me.

    It should be a Thing. It should be something that is common again, so I don’t feel like a freak pulling out a dumbphone that looks like it was from the early 2000s. It should also be affordable, so that everyone can afford it, not just a few hundred dollars like popular dumb phones such as the Lightphone.

    Yes, I understand what you are thinking. “Why don’t you just set your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb?'” I have. Numerous times. Sometimes it works, especially on good days. However, I am only human and apps and smartphones are meant to be addictive. When I feel down or tired, the temptation to reach for my smartphone to get a quick dopamine rush is too strong. I know that I’m not the only one.

    We suggested bringing dumbphones back before, back when Trump controlled the country via Twitter and rattled our collective nerves each time he tweeted. It was a great feeling to be logged off, but it now feels even more.

    We’ve experienced a pandemic in the world, while the US has witnessed a literal attempted coup. Russia invaded Ukraine. This has claimed the lives of well over 200,000 people and caused major food shortages. We’ve recently also hit our — what? — Millionth major financial crisis in fifteen years? Every other week, we live in unprecedented times, and it’s no wonder they look like supermodels.

    The dumb phone is needed to make a comeback. To be more connected to the real world, we need to temporarily disconnect from the digital world. I used to think that getting out of my house was the best way to unplug. But now, I can’t. I have my phone in my pocket and my tech everywhere. Although we cannot pause the world, we can forcefully log off using a dumb smartphone instead.

    It’s not a bad thing. I want smartphones to continue to improve and to never go away. Instead, I envision a world in which we all have smartphones but also have access to cheap phones for when we need to recharge or go out. A basic phone that can be used to text and make phone calls. There are no cameras, apps, internet or any other features. Only a phone, not another distraction.

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