This wasn’t some kind of hipster statement. It’s just that I had a non-smart mobile phone, and it worked. Gosh, I also had a home phone. And if I wanted to go on the internet, I would use a computer.
(Perhaps this is the reason why mine is the only lifestyle blog not populated with endless photos of smartphones-lying-next-to-cups-of-coffee-on-rustic-tables?)
I was on pay-as-you-go so I had no contract to worry about. No danger I’d accidentally rack up a £500 bill by checking a few emails on a Thai beach. I paid less than £10 topping up on credit each month, which fitted in with the extreme budgeting I’ve been doing to get out of debt. All was well with the world.
People under 25 were always utterly incredulous that I could go without such a device, but here I was, still functioning as a human being. If anything, I enjoyed not being disturbed by my phone. I didn’t look at it in bed. It didn’t join us for dinner. I didn’t take it to the loo.
Eventually, my employer lent me a smartphone to use for work, but I still pretty much never used it. It all seemed so needlessly complicated and fiddly: passwords, settings, account names, push notifications.
Then I did something very silly and left my trusty dumb-phone in a crowded cafe. I had to buy a new one.
Technology has come a long way in the four years I’ve owned my phone, and I picked up my first smartphone – a 4G, 4.5in, Android handset – for just £35. And, do you know what, I love it. I’m no Luddite, and I’m looking forward to using Uber and WhatsApp for the first time, posting smug holiday photos on Facebook with a few clicks or checking emails without having to turn my computer on.
But yes, I have found myself looking at it when I should be enjoying a meal with my wife. I have taken it to bed. Modesty prevents me from saying whether I’ve taken it into the bathroom… but you can probably guess.
My budget meant I could only get a handset with a teeny, tiny bit of storage. This could be really frustrating for some people – I tried downloading fancy games and didn’t get very far before having to delete them all again.
So I’ve now used this as a prompt to set up a really minimalist phone. I’m still avoiding contracts, so the finances are kept really simple. Meanwhile, out go all the notifications, bleeps and buzzes, and in comes a small selection of hand-picked apps I know I’ll use.
It’s going to suit me just fine. I don’t want to spend all my time staring at another screen, playing silly, never-ending games. I don’t want to feel tethered to my phone or anxious when I don’t have it near me. My years without a smartphone have taught me to be smarter than that.
But it has meant I can finally take that lifestyle-blog money shot. Here goes:
Aaaaah… that’s better, isn’t it?