My Smart Phone Made Me Dumb. I Fixed It.
I’ve been one of the many millions of people addicted to my phone, in the last 4 or 5 years – constantly pulling it out to check … something… anything… twitter, Google+, email, the weather or news… anything to get my fix. My wife constantly complained about it. I ignored people around me, quite often. It wasn’t good.
So nearly a month ago, I uninstalled all the social network junk from my phone, and I’m glad I did. Twitter, Google+, Facebook… all gone. Games? Gone, as well. I never played them on my phone anyways, so why keep those around.
I find myself still having that urge to pull the phone out and get some kind of fix, still. But it’s getting less and less over time. I also find it awkward to not have anything to do, while waiting around for something else, at times. But this is one of the primary reasons I wanted to get rid of all these things. It takes effort, but I always find something else to do – even if that something else is just to sit back and relax, to unwind a bit, and not worry about what the world is doing.
Not Giving Up My Smart Phone. Just Using It Smartly
I thought about giving up my smart phone entirely, for a while. That would be the “easy” way to kick the habit of constant connectivity. But after getting rid of the social media crApps on my phone, i found out that i really do like having the phone for other reasons. Here are the things I still use it for:
Reading email, when I think it’s important. I left my email accounts in tact on the phone. I never really had a problem with constantly checking those, anyways. I only read email on the phone, and only when i think it’s something important. I very rarely reply via my phone – rarely, as in maybe a few times a month if that.
Google Maps. I love this feature of my Android phone. GPS + Google Maps === easily driving wherever I need to go. I use this a lot to find directions somewhere.
Runkeeper, Fitbit, etc. Exercise and health apps like Runkeeper and Fitbit are great to have on my phone. I can track miles and time walked, and log other fitbit info without having to be in front of my computer. Having access to these things works out well for me, as they aren’t things I check constantly. I use them when needed, and then ignore them.
Shopping list, notes, etc. I use my phone to track my shopping list, notes for things i need to do, etc.
Mobile Bank App. I use my bank’s mobile app on a regular basis – checking balances, transfers between accounts and depositing the occasional check that I get from various things. It is nice to have this when I’m out doing things.
Tethering for internet access. I have a 4G phone with unlimited data (grand-fathered plan, paid full price for the phone to keep the plan). I use the tethering feature 3 or 4 times a month, and it’s worth it for me. When I’m out away from the house working, and I don’t have a wifi connection (or the wifi is garbage), having the phone for tethered internet access is quite nice.
#ProTip: Uninstall The Social Distractions From Your Phone
In the end, I think it’s worth it for me to have a smart phone, still. At some point in the future, this may change and I might switch back to a dumb-phone. But at least for now, I’ve started using my phone in a more reasonable and responsible manner.
If you find yourself constantly checking your phone and wondering what’s happening on twitter or facebook, wondering if someone replied to you or not… do yourself a favor. Stop lying to yourself about not needing to check your phone, and uninstall / turn off / log out of all the distractions.
I’m not saying you should leave twitter, facebook, or whatever behind entirely. I still use twitter nearly every day. But I do it from my computer or from my iPad when I’m in a situation where it is appropriate for me to be working from my iPad. I’m saying to get it off your phone, and get your social life back. No, not your “social network” life… Remember when “social” meant human interaction in real life? It’s time for us to get back to that.