I got my first cellphone around the time I got my driver’s license. It was basic flip, prepaid phone that I was only allowed to use for emergencies or to call my parents if I was coming home late. My parents paid for the minutes on it and monitored the usage.
I got a real cellphone right before I moved in to my dorm my freshmen year of college. It was a basic flip phone. It was part of my parents plan, so I could make calls, but not send texts. I finally convinced my dad to add a texting plan to our account my senior year of college. I think it was something like I paid $7 a month for 250 messages.
After graduating college, one of my first “real adult” acts was getting my own cell plan and a Blackberry. I went all out– unlimited minutes, unlimited texting, data plan, and a cool pink case. Having a Blackberry equaled adulthood to me. Never-mind that I didn’t have a job at this point and really couldn’t afford the phone…
After relocating to NYC in August 2011, my Blackberry could not get a signal because (unlike what my regional cell provider told me before moving), it had no service in NYC. So at that point, I terminated my contract and went with a national carrier, which meant I had to get a new phone. And in came my iPhone addiction…
I’ve had some great times with my iPhone. Apps are fun and good time-wasters. It’s convenient to have all my email inboxes (I have 12. Maybe more…) feeding into one place. I love being able to tweet and post every random thought that pops into my brain. It’s great to check the comments and traffic on my websites I manage while on-the-go.
But the trade-offs are what have me thinking I may be further ahead ditching the smartphone for a “dumb-phone,” where I can just make calls and text. For starters, my iPhone costs me $110-$130 a month (depending on the minutes plan I’m using that month because I can’t find one that works for me). A regular “dumb phone” plan with unlimited texting would only cost me about $55 a month, a savings of $55-$75 a month or $660-$900 a year!
Smartphones makes us perpetual consumers. New phones are constantly coming out promising to be better than all previous phones. We’re suppose to drop a few hundred (or more) dollars on each new phone every couple years. How much money in our lifetimes will we spend on phones? What happens to our old phones? What impact does this have on our environment?
Also, as my smartphone usage has increased, my ability to focus has decreased. I can’t carry-on a conversation without checking my phone every 10 minutes. I’m constantly thinking about the next thing to post online instead of paying attention to what’s happening around me. I sneak glances at my email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. while driving (terrible habit!).
I recently started working a part-time retail job where I’m not allowed to have my cellphone on the floor. Though many coworkers break this rule and sneak their phones in their pockets, I see this rule as a much-needed respite from my phone. An eight-hour shift without my phone is a relief! The only thing I truly miss during that time is texting because, in the land of technology, it most closely simulates direct communication with another person.
On paper (or blog), I’ve convinced myself to ditch my iPhone and go back to a basic flip with no data plan, but can I really do it? I’m still mentally preparing myself for this one.