Dumb Phone Challenge

I have finally come to the conclusion that I rely too heavily on technology, but especially my phone. My iPhone is always within arm’s reach, if not already in my hand. It connects me with everyone I know or have ever met through texts, calls, FaceTime, and social media. It provides me with entertainment when I’m at the airport or when I can’t fall asleep. It helps me avoid social interactions on the bus. I use it to settle dinner table disputes over which blonde actress was in that movie. I hang on the every word of my navigation app when I’m following directions, even when I’ve been to Point B enough times to remember the way without technology. I take my phone into the bathroom to play games or check Facebook from the toilet (because I can’t have a moment in my day when I’m not multi-tasking, apparently). I wrote this post in short little bursts of typing into the Notes App on my phone. In the car while sitting at red lights, on the toilet, in line at the grocery store. 

While all of this may be considered normal for a millennial like myself, I am pretty tired of feeling so attached to a device. There is no other single object or person who I rely on as much as my phone. On an average day, I am probably looking at my phone more often than not. And I wish that were an exaggeration. I want to change that and see if the world opens up for me. Will I become a better navigator? Will I be more present during my in-person interactions? Will I have more time? Will I travel more safely? Will I stop getting so close to going over my monthly data limit? 

During this Dumb Phone Challenge, I’ll spend one month using my iPhone in the most basic way possible. By not switching phones, my experience will be slightly more realistic and reflective of what I’ll have in my life after the challenge. 

Specifically, I’m going to spend all of January with a “dumb phone,” or a phone that has basic functions. I’m keeping functions based on what I consider basic and a couple “extras” I’ll need for work purposes only. 

Here’s what phone applications I’ll be using in January:

  • Phone 
  • Texting
  • Camera
  • Photo Stream
  • Settings
  • Notes
  • Solitaire 
  • Calendar
  • Calculator
  • Clock
BEFORE: Here is what my phone looks like most of the time, though I tend to rearrange my apps when I get bored. I even had them color coordinated at one point because I'm a weirdo.
BEFORE: Here is what my phone looks like most of the time, though I tend to rearrange my apps when I get bored. I even had them color coordinated at one point because I’m a weirdo.
AFTER: This is what my phone will look like for January. No promises that I won't color coordinate it at some point.
AFTER: This is what my phone will look like for January. No promises that I won’t color coordinate it at some point.

For work purposes I’ll keep my GroupMe app on my phone, though I’ll have it on a separate page and I will only check it when I get a message from a student or co-worker. Otherwise, my iPhone is regressing back to the capabilities of a flip phone. Granted, it will be a very fancy flip phone, but a flip phone nonetheless. 

Not only is this a Dumb Phone Challenge because it’s meant to be the opposite of a Smart Phone experience, but also because it’s a dumb challenge. I don’t really need to do this and it shouldn’t be necessary to do a month-long challenge so I can reduce my dependence on a device. But I’m doing it and I’m excited to see if I can learn to spend less time on my phone and more time taking in my surroundings. I hope that this experience allows me to spend more time looking up and out and less time lost in the screen of my iPhone. 

I’ll share thoughts on this experience some time in January and then after I’m done with the challenge. Unless something goes terribly wrong, that is. Though hopefully I won’t get lost forever or become one of those weird off-the-grid people.

So what do you think? Will you join my Dumb Phone Challenge in January? Comment below to join in or share your thoughts! 

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