Anniversaries are always special, but this month is the anniversary of getting my brain back.
Last December, I purchased The Light Phone. It’s a cute little device. Often mistaken for an air condition remote. Sparks lots of conversations with strangers. And is responsible for giving me my brain back.
Switching from a smartphone wasn’t easy. Even though I purchased The Light Phone in December, it wasn’t until April 15th 2021 that I ported my primary number and officially untethering from my smartphone.
But why? That’s the number one. My shortest answer is attention management.
My long answer: I was sick and tired of being in a constant state of anxiety. I was disgusted with how much of my life was spent not observing the world around me, but the artificial one presented to me by the portal in my pocket. And I was embarrassed that I couldn’t control it.
Prior to getting The Light Phone I had spent two years widdling down my usage. I started using an app called Moment to put back in stopping rules. App an company that is mysteriously vanished in the years since. It worked. At least, temporally. When I was intentional my usage would drop to 10-30 minutes per day. But eventually my willpower would deplete and Twitter, YouTube, and the like would reappear on my phone and my usage would creep up again.
Frustrated by my own lack of super-human willpower, I went light.
At first it was a grand gesture, I just bought the damn phone. Dropping a large sum of money always gets the ball rolling. Then if you don’t act, sunk costs will wear you down. And that’s what happened. Each month that passed that “wasted” money ate at me until I finally switched. Pulling the trigger had consequences. Two-factor apps has to be ported to Yubi keys. Contacts had to be manually added. And GPS was with me 24/7/365.
I compensated by investing in several single-purpose devices; a radio, CDs, timers, and temperature gauge to name a few. At first it seemed silly to have to purchase these things, but there’s a lot of value in owning devices that have a single purpose, they don’t get in your way. Each remains what it should, just a tool.
My smartphone as become an optional device. Used for 2-factors who hate Yubi keys, music from Spotify and GPS when I don’t have time to look up directions or the time to drive around. (I tether it to the light phone for internet).
If you think all that seems like an inconvenience, you’re correct. But it’s worth it.
A year into this, I find it difficult to find the right words.
I’m different. Less chaotic. Focused. Observant. Thoughtful. And overall happier.
My wife no longer gets mad at me for being on my phone. In fact, I’m the one who that calls her out now at the dinner table. Which was quite a change.
She now— although she’d never say it out loud— is annoyed by me reading all the time. Not because she disapproves, but rightfully acknowledges there’s someone a bit more useful I could be doing. Like dishes.
Reading and writing have replaced my scrolling. Collectively I’ve read nearly 30 books and written over 200 pages of multiple manuscripts.
I now tread my phone how my grandfather used to. Calls and text aren’t immediately answered. It doesn’t go with me every time I get in the car. And I leave it dead for days.
All of that, as great as it sounds has come at a cost. I’m more isolated, disconnected, and less digitally social. I do miss it. But, I can’t go back to a smartphone.
Instead, I’m be looking back to the AOL days. Searching for answer for how to be social, but not tethered.
2021-12-16 00:00 +0000