Last weekend I finally took the leap on a decision I’d been mulling over for some time. I cut off service to my iphone and bought myself a real, gen-u-ine flip phone from my friends at Cricket Wireless.
And you guys.
I LOVE IT.
I’d love to tell you I did it to save money or to make an early 2000s fashion statement. I wish it was just because there’s nothing more satisfying than hanging up by snapping a flip phone shut.
But the real reason I had to trade in my iphone for a flip phone is because I have absolutely no self discipline.
It’s sad, really.
If we were sitting around a circle right now on folded metal chairs admitting things I’d raise my hand high and publicly declare
“MY NAME IS COLE AND I AM ADDICTED TO MY iPHONE.”
I’m embarrassed to type that, but it’s truth.
Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that I simply cannot handle the temptation of overusing my phone. It shows up in a variety of ways, most common of which is excessively texting when I should be either mothering or doing something actually productive.
It shows up when I find myself snapping at a child because they’re impatiently waiting for me to get off my phone and get them a glass of water.
It shows up when my husband asks me a question and instead of putting the phone down, looking him in the eye, and giving him the response he deserves, I say just a second hun and continue typing away.
It shows up when I find myself overwhelmed by the amount of laundry that’s left or frustrated by the fact that dinner hasn’t even been started after I spent the entire nap time scrolling through Facebook.
I’ve been aware of this problem for some time and I’ve attempted to address it in other ways. I’ve tried putting my phone on silent so I don’t hear when texts come in. I’ve tried leaving my phone in the bedroom. I’ve tried turning the phone off for certain times of the day. I’ve tried limiting it’s use to the moments my children are not around.
But each time, somehow, I fail.
That’s how I know it’s an addiction.
So last week I drove on down to the mobile store and bought myself a $30 LG flip phone. It’s completely unchanged from the very same model I owned in 2008. It makes and receives calls, makes and receives short texts (but no pictures, emojis, or group texts), and has a simple alarm clock. That’s it.
Oh the freedom!
Yes, I can still text, but good luck engaging in a lengthy conversation with a T9 keyboard.
Yes, I can still take pictures, but they appear as though they’ve been taken through the lens of a glass bottle. And really, what’s the point? I can’t send them or even get them on my computer.
And actually, while we’re on the subject of taking pictures, has it crossed anyone else’s mind that our desire to capture every single cute moment on photo or video might be creating the most narcissistic generation in history? I mean, I love looking back at charming pictures of my kids just as much as the next mom, but I can’t help but think the way we follow them around like they’re little celebrities, trying to catch (and then post) every single adorable thing our kids do has to have a negative long term affect on their humility.
When discussing the flip phone decision with my husband, he raised a number of potential problems I might have living without my iphone. (Sad, but true.) His arguments all fell into two categories: cost and inconvenience.
Cost, you say? Shouldn’t a flip phone be cheaper? Well, yes, except that I’ve never been the type to drop $700 on what could arguably be considered an expensive toy, so I still rock a 2010 iphone 4 which I acquired used in 2015. Where the cost of switching to a flip phone comes in is my inability to participate in certain cost-saving measures like Target Cartwheel and Ibotta. Last year I saved $150 using Target Cartwheel. That’s not small change!
As for inconvenience, we’re looking at things like the loss of Waze, mobile banking, and winning factual debates on the spot.
After hashing it out with him, I decided that I am willing to pay more and to be inconvenienced in order to overcome my addiction. And really, we’re not just talking about my little texting problem here – part of the decision comes from the example I want to be setting for my children. We place strong limits on the amount of screen time our children are allowed. How hypocritical is it then for them to see me on my phone all the time?
ALSO, have you ever noticed how much the people around you are on their phones in what would otherwise be social situations? Thankfully my lifelong people watching hobby keeps me from becoming the type to whip out my iphone in public (fear of missing out on awkward real-life encounters), but it literally blows me away how often I see other people doing this. You know: in line at the grocery store, at church before the sermon starts, or even right smack in the middle of a conversation with someone else! It’s nuts!
I don’t want that for my kids. I want my kids to learn to enjoy people watching as much as I do. I want them to talk to people in line at Target or to be content standing there and just waiting. I don’t want them playing phone games – I want them playing outside! When they start driving, I want them to have geographical awareness. I want them to have the confidence to actually MAKE PHONE CALLS. When they’re home, I don’t want them absorbed in a text conversation with their friends – I want their focus to be on our family.
If I want all those things, I need to model those things.
And a flip phone was the first step.