Why I Did Buy a Smartphone
6 years ago I wrote a post about why I didn’t buy a smartphone. Yesterday I bought a smartphone. Being a symbol of persistence and the face of the resistance for those who know me, I have some explanation to do. I clearly wasn’t happy with the cognitive changes smartphones brought upon their owners; what changed?
You can say that my transition was a smooth one: I had bought an iPad in January 2014. Although I was using it effectively, I was careful to protect myself from that state of constant communication; email notifications were off and I only checked them when I wanted to. (And Whatsapp doesn’t work on iPad.) Despite my fears to the contrary, it also had a positive effect on my reading as it offered a comfortable way of reading long articles on websites or as PDFs.
But my decision of not owning a smartphone hadn’t changed until recently. And during those years with my not-so-smart Nokia, I got pretty used to being made fun of by people close to me, and to deal with the increasing complications of my decision in a world where everything is moved to that platform. A remarkable threshold for me was when all my doctors started saying things like “I’ll send you the results on Whatsapp”. (“Umm, can I come and get them?”)
So why did I buy a smartphone, after nearly 10 years of abstinence?
- Earlier this year, my debit card was copied at an ATM, and my account was drained. I spent many unpleasant hours at the bank and at police stations, my account and my cards were frozen for enough time to make me miserable, and I was able to get my money back only after 2 months. When I learned that I can withdraw cash using the bank’s application on my iPad by getting a one-time code number, I promised myself that I would never use my debit card again at ATM machines. I had no intention to go through all that again. This meant that I had to carry my iPad every time I needed to withdraw cash. Then the system changed and the bank started to send confirmation codes to my phone during this operation. This meant that I had to juggle my iPad and my phone in front of the ATM with people behind me. It was hard, embarrassing, and less safe. A smartphone would make cash withdrawal safe and easy for me.
- Music is important to me. Until 5 years ago, I’d been carrying a 60 GB archive on an iPod. Then, for some technical reason, I started using a big enough memory card on my Nokia. But the Nokia had a weird headphones plug profile, and the headphones I wanted to use weren’t compatible with it. So I had to buy plug adaptors. They had a short lifespan and they were hard to find, so I had to buy a lot of them. I kept going like this for years. (Don’t you underestimate my glorious resistance!) Then one day, that one store where I could find them told me they weren’t selling them anymore. This happened nearly a year ago. Since then, I was condemned to use old crappy Nokia headphones. It was like listening to a radio that’s inside a washing machine. Being washed.
- Again, music is important to me. I’ve become an avid user of Spotify in recent years. Loading old MP3s in my Nokia wasn’t cutting it anymore. I so wanted to continue listening to that Heart of a Coward album (that I discovered an hour ago thanks to Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist) when I went outside.
These three, combined with the fact that I was able to own an iPad without becoming addicted, were enough to convince me. On top of that, there are also many other apps I got used to over the years, to do things like making task/shopping lists, tuning instruments, or getting navigation help while driving. It’ll be nice to have these without having to carry a bag with an iPad in it.
Two rules will remain: All email notifications will be off (just like my iPad) and Whatsapp will not be installed. (I witness its unavoidable use in professional relationships and it’s certainly beyond my limits.)
I had ended the 2012 post on a hopeful note, leaving open the possibility that people around me would re-adjust themselves and control their addiction. 6 years on, I gave up on that hope. I’m still not happy with what smartphones do to people; my new hope is only about myself, and I think I have enough reasons to be hopeful. At least, it’s something I can do something about if it goes south.
But let’s finish this one too with a call to my friends & family, who will make fun of me because I caved in: I have long years of training against being mocked by you on this subject, so bring. It. On.
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