Why I’m Dumbing Down My Smartphone

I hate your phone.

My phone lets me work from anywhere and navigate strange cities without having to ask a stranger for help, but your phone gets in the way of us connecting.

I hate your phone because you’re looking at it when I’m trying to talk to you. You’re scrolling through BuzzFeed links on Facebook instead of telling me about what’s new in your life. You tell me that you miss me, but then you spend our time together scrolling through your Instagram feed and seeing what your old high school English teacher is having for lunch today.

I’m right here.

Put your damn phone down.

I watched this video on my phone.

I was laying in bed beside Jared, and he asked what I was watching. I felt very smug because he should watch this. He often wraps one arm around me while the other is holding up his phone to get one last Facebook fix before bed.

I rolled over and handed my phone to him.


I hate my phone, too.

My phone helps me navigate the twists and turns of unfamiliar Pittsburgh roads and make sure my check was deposited into my bank account. And it ensures that I am never, ever bored. Not on the bus, or at the laundromat, or on the sidelines at my kid’s soccer game.

My phone helps me connect to my friends all over the world. I can reach out and tell them how not alone they are at any time. Even when I’m playing cards with my kids at my kitchen table.

I watched that video and rolled over to hand my phone to my husband in bed, and I thought, “I need to do something about this. This has gone too far.”

I thought maybe I’d get an old phone. Maybe I’d get one of those phones that only makes calls and sends texts, like the one my stepdad was still trying to figure out how to use when he died last year. But then how would I figure out how to get to REI from the grocery store? How would I know when my flight is delayed or where my hotel is located? How would I know to remember to pick up my pants from the tailor as I’m walking by the tailor?

I don’t hate everything about my phone.

I just hate the parts that get in the way of me looking at the world right in front of me. I hate the parts that leave me looking at the top of your head because you’re looking at your phone instead of at me.

So, I deleted those parts. I deleted everything that was in the folder marked “Social”, because none of it was helping me be more social. I can be Internet social when I’m at my laptop, but I want to be face-to-face social when I’m face-to-face. I want to stop leading with the top of my head.

I’m not sure how long this will last. I’m not sure if it will make a difference. Maybe I’ll just start distracting myself with mobile web browsing instead of social network surfing. Maybe the problem of disconnecting from what’s right in front of me can’t be fixed by deleting a few apps from phone.

But maybe it’s a start.

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  1. Naomi says:

    I think the best thing I ever did was to take Facebook off of my phone. Twitter will stay because during the car pick up line at school, it comes in handy!

    Great post … much needed.
    Naomi’s most recent post: Picking up the littles.

    • Miss Britt says:

      The worst part about Twitter for me is that I feel like I have to instantly document every thought or fill every quiet space in my brain. So, I’m giving this a shot.

      I think a lot of people are doing experiments like this, and more will do it as we all get tired of talking to tops of heads, and we’ll each find what limits make sense for us.

  2. Poppy says:

    I barely use my phone for this reason. Also, I once had a major meltdown and told Dawg exactly how I felt about going out with him to spend time with him but all he was doing was staring inside his phone as if whatever was in there is more important than I am to him. We spend a lot more time engaging with each other now. :)
    Poppy’s most recent post: protect

    • Miss Britt says:

      THat’s awesome that you were able to communicate that to him AND that he was able to change his habits.

  3. I think this is smart and I think more and more people are going to be doing the same. I had a similar conversation with a friend of mine a few weeks ago. The novelty of a smart phone starting to wear off and I’m not entirely unhappy about it.
    Taynia @ The Fiscal Flamingo’s most recent post: Three Ways An Organized Closet Will Save You Money (Without Selling Your Clothes)

  4. heidikins says:

    I started turning the data off on my smart phone for hours at a time. It has been AWESOME. No emails, no FB, no Twitter or Instagram. And then I make the conscious choice to turn it back on because I need a map, or to look something up, or I want to spend a few minutes on Instagram or whichever. It’s been much better.

    heidikins’s most recent post: Sunrise on the Salt Flats

    • Miss Britt says:

      That’s a good idea. I considered that option, but I wasn’t sure I’d have the willpower not to just turn it on all the time. lol

  5. Carly says:

    The problem with righteously giving up your screen time, I discovered, is that one’s husband is not always willing to give up his. Which does NOT tend to foster connection…it tends to foster resentment, actually. It’s funny, the times I want to look at my phone are totally different from when he wants to look at his.

  6. martymankins says:

    Distractions… that’s what I call many things on my phone, IRL… but for the social media ones, I can see that. I rarely get on Facebook anymore because of it’s time suck abilities. Twitter is my mainstay and one that I actually get some inspiration from.

    This is a bold move and I would be curious to see how it turns out in a few weeks.
    martymankins’s most recent post: Visited

    • Miss Britt says:

      Yeah, I think it is definitely something where “time will tell.”

      Part of the problem is that I wasn’t really having conversations on Twitter anyway. I was mainly scrolling, scrolling, scrolling – or refreshing, waiting to see if someone had responded yet!

  7. Sheila says:

    Have you heard of the “game” where, when you go out to dinner/drinks/etc, everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table, on vibrate, and the first person to check their phone has to pay the tab? It’s kinda sad when people get so sick of being ignored on their nights out that someone thought of this.

    My tongue in cheek answer to your questions about “What if I need…..” is to do what people did in the “old days”. Write notes on your hand and check mapquest before you leave the house :)
    Sheila’s most recent post: Blech

    • Miss Britt says:

      I have heard of that game!

      I know there are “old school” ways of doing everything my phone can do, but I really like not having to haul a bunch of stuff around town with me. I’m trying to keep the baby while draining the bath water, so to speak.

  8. Jb says:

    I have a fancy iPhone. I got it last summer, upgrading from an old basic phone. I never added email – I’m not a CEO. I do text, and will read blogs and the nytimes – but it’s mostly maps, pictures and games for kids. We recently moved and I am so proud to stay my phone and iPad have not seen the bedroom yet. It’s a struggle but I also remind myself we are modeling behavior for our kids.

  9. I like to go to restaurants and look around at everyone under 35 who aren’t speaking to one another, opting instead to stare at their individual phones. And this is in nice restaurants, where one would assume these folks have paid for the “experience” in addition to the food + drinks. It’s both amusing and pathetic.
    Father Muskrat’s most recent post: road trips to florida and alabama on crappy tires* will kill you

  10. Kristin says:

    About 2 months ago, I deleted the Pinterest app on my phone. I had to take a big breath and push that little “x” but I did it. Mostly because it was eating up the memory on my phone somehow..it was too big of an app. But it was a panicky feeling because Pinterest? It’s amazing! I’ve been on it since you needed and invite and there were like 12 of us there.

    But I haven’t missed it at all. In fact, I feel pretty good about it. I’ve thought about eliminating FB from my phone, but I like being able to post a photo of the kids from my phone. So I try my darndest to just ignore FB until the evening. It’s not easy though.

  11. This post is really timely for me as I’m going through some of these struggles at the moment as well. I did a trial of deleting instagram & facebook from my ipod touch & it helped a ton in making me realize that stuff really doesn’t matter & it will go on without me!

    Thanks for putting it out there…so sad that the video is NO exaggeration–it’s what I witness all the time as we are out and about.
    Kate @Wild Tales of…’s most recent post: Sleep for Camping Toddlers

  12. I saw this video on someone else’s blog and it really stuck with me. I do not own a Smart Phone (I switched providers and asked for a flip phone. The salesman was a bit insulting and said that even his grandmother has an iPhone. Not the thing to say when you work on commission- the super nice pregnant woman, who turned out to be a high school friend of a very good friend got the sale) and I am not on Facebook. I came to work this morning, after a 3-day weekend, and everyone knew about everyone else’s weekend because they were all texting and reading each other’s Facebook updates. Just not the way I want to spend my time away from the office.
    shona ~lala dex press’s most recent post: midge

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