Last week, my son and I were out for a walk around our neighborhood. He’s still sitting in a stroller, so I was in charge of pushing. About halfway through our normal trek, my wife called.
I reached into my pocket and answered my phone. We talked, we hung up and I put my phone inside the cup holder on the stroller.
She called back. I spazzed out and slapped the phone off of the stroller and onto the sidewalk. The three foot fall shattered the screen of my iPhone 4.
I found a way to blame my wife.
If you’re a frequent reader of the site and you remember me writing a piece about switching away from my iPhone and towards Android with the Samsung Epic, rest assured that I enjoyed my time with Google’s OS. This point could be spread out into a full-on editorial, but I wound up leaving Android because of the OS’ strange separation. I bought a phone that released months ago, and yet I was being left behind on Android OS updates.
So, I left. Some will understand that decision, some won’t. That’s not what this is about.
This is about life without a smartphone; and, while I totally recognize this is a first world problem to the extreme, things have been awful.
Staying in touch…
When I sent my phone away for repair, the first thing I had to figure out was how to go about living life without a quick method of communication. Yes, the Internet works for talking to people actually plugged in, but my wife spends a good chunk of her day away from the computer. That means I needed a way for her to get a note to me so that I can call her.
We don’t have a land line in our home. I’ve been using Gmail and their call phone option because it’s free. So, my wife sends me an email from her phone and I call her.
It’s slow, it’s annoying, but it works. There’s your free pro-tip.
As for my phone and people calling it in hopes of actually reaching me, I decided to record a new voicemail. They call and receive instructions to drop me a message via email. Then, using the same Gmail phone call option, I call them back.
Again, super annoying for people trying to get a hold of me. I apologize on the voice mail message for this simple fact.
First world problems…
You want to know what’s so bad about not having a smartphone? Two things were extremely boring without my iPhone: going to the bathroom (truth) and waiting in the doctor’s office.
It may be a little gross, but let’s all own up to something here and now: we use our smartphones a lot on the toilet. Cruising Facebook, playing rounds of Bejeweled, browsing the Internet or checking sports scores, my bathroom sessions are packed with phone usage.
Before I had a phone? I read the back of shampoo bottles. Yes, seriously.
As for the doctor’s office… you try waiting more than an hour in order for the Ear Specialist to see your kid at a pediatric office. Good gravy, sitting there as the little tyke crams the same block into his mouth over and over with nothing to do was terrible.
The worst part? I asked the clerk why their waiting room was without magazines. Her response was that people have phones now, there’s been no need to maintain subscriptions to things people weren’t even reading.
Well, dangit. Talk about boring.
This is me stating the complete obvious, but disconnecting in today’s world is genuinely difficult. Everywhere we go, especially as readers and participants in a tech community like this one, we’re hooked up to the Internet. We have a way to communicate and receive data constantly.
Without that portal, things are a lot smaller and constrained. Riding in the car, I had no way to check my calendar for appointments later in the day. I was late for something, but I didn’t know what it was or who to contact for it. All of that stuff is in my phone.
Disconnecting is tough. Being away from information is tough. The scary thing here is that I would never have felt this way 15 years ago.
I remember life with pay phones. It was easy.
Now? I’m spoiled rotten. I think we all are.
What did I learn?
Dear Apple: Use better glass. The tech is out there, we’ve seen it.
A three foot drop from a stroller shouldn’t result in shattered glass.
Dear self: be more careful with your phone.
Dear self part two: use your phone less.