BLOG: 'Why getting a dumbphone was the smartest thing I've done.'

Kate’s dumbphone.


I’ve swapped my iPhone for a mobile phone that makes calls and sends texts. That’s it.

At a pinch it’ll send an MMS, but my data plan is the most minimal you can buy so more than two would cost more than the handset is worth – which is practically nothing.

Even my kids are embarrassed when I use it in public – something I rarely do as it’s a flip style thing which is fiddly, and by the time I open it and press the right button the caller has usually hung up.

Why did I do such a thing? I’m the opposite of Amish. I have an iMac on my desk, a Macbook Air for my lap and an iPad for travel. I’ve been an Apple devotee since before they were it and a bit – in fact, I played a tiny role in the coolification of iProducts, working on the Apple advertising account in the late ’90s when lolly-coloured, bulbous-bummed iMacs were big news.

So it was hard to let my iPhone go. But it had to be done. I was too connected. I checked emails while waiting at the deli counter at Coles. I’d look at Twitter instead of chatting to the guy who makes my coffee. I’d check to see who was liking my latest Facebook update as I walked the dog. I was doing exactly what I was worried my children would do if I ever allowed them to have smartphones. Which I wouldn’t. I disapprove. Do as I say, not as I do, kids.

There were lots of reasons I decided to go cold turkey. Mostly though, it was because I want to be bored again. I miss having mental down time.

I used to enjoy looking at people around me and guessing what their names are. I miss reading old copies of New Idea at the doctors and thinking, ‘Oh! Nicole Kidman’s had another baby!’ then I realise it’s little Sunday, who must be just about ready to start school.

Like kids, I think adults need to be bored sometimes.  My iPhone meant I was never bored. Or surprised. I knew everything as it happened and there was no point in sitting down to watch the news or ringing a friend to see how her holiday was. I’d seen it all on my phone while my girls were doing gymnastics.

I was desperate for good news, exciting news and every time I checked and it wasn’t there, I’d be a little disappointed. So I’d check more often. Pathetic, really.

My iPhone meant I’d become a slack correspondent.

Oddly, my iPhone – the great communication device of our time – meant I’d become a bad correspondent.

I’d check my emails while I was on an escalator and make a mental note to reply. Of course, I wouldn’t – I’d forget and I’d piss people off or worse – I’d hurt their feelings.


Now I check email when I’m sitting at my desk when I’m in a position to I either reply or delete.

It’s been a week now, and the world hasn’t stopped turning because I’m not monitoring it as closely. My Twitter stream keeps on flowing whether I check it ten times a day or not.

I’m not Barack Obama – my opinions, responses and actions are not required around the clock. I’m rarely more than an hour away from a computer and if anyone needs me urgently, they can call. Ring me up. Talk to me. My daggy little flippy phone has excellent reception.

BUT, it’s a bitch to text on, and that may be my undoing.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stand having to press one button four times to get an exclamation mark.

I thought I’d miss Safari in my pocket,  but it’s the silky smooth touchscreen texting I yearn for. This morning, as I was flinging Weet-Bix at my kids, my friend Sharon texted me, ‘Hey, can you take Maggie home from school today?’

It would have taken me a full ten minutes to respond, ‘No problems. Tell her to walk to the gym with my girls. I’ll be there by ten past three.’

I could have replied, as we did on our Nokias in the nineties, ‘OK gr8’ but that just seems so rude now.

What if Sharon thought I was annoyed? Resentful of being asked a favour? I could not even summon an emoticon to soften the vibe.

So I rang her. It was just easier. Of course, she answered on the first ring, ‘What’s the matter?’ she asked  ‘Are you all right?’

‘Nothing’s wrong,’ I assured her, completely understanding her panic.

No one calls at seven thirty in the morning anymore unless someone has died. Or they’ve got rid of their smartphone.

The laborious texting means I’m already thinking of getting rid of the flippy dumbphone in a month, when my addiction is broken.

My iPhone is languishing in the bottom desk drawer  – like a bottle of gin. When I dust it off and fire it up, I think I’ll just disable Mail and Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for a plan with as little data as possible.

Because I’m enjoying being less connected to the world. I feel more connected to my life.

Would you ever get rid of your smartphone?