why i’m sticking with my dumbphone

Not a week goes by that my spouse and I don’t get mocked for at least one of the following:

  1. having a land line
  2. not texting
  3. not having a smartphone

We have plenty of reasons for each. Our house gets terrible cell phone reception, so we need a land line to phone from home. Neither of us likes to text, so we’ve never signed up for a plan. And even though we’re years (yes, years) “overdue” for upgraded cell phones according to our contract, we don’t see the need to get shiny new gadgets while ours still work.

Old-fashioned? Maybe. (Though the New York Times says we’re not alone in clinging to our retro dumbphones.)

But the deeper truth? I can’t let myself get a smartphone.

Do I think they’re slick? Certainly. Handy? Definitely. But I refuse to bring one into this house. Despite my desire for an iPhone, I have to draw the line.

Because boundaries between work and family are already blurred when I work from home.

Because I already struggle with being present to my kids, given all the distractions around me.

Because when I see something like this, it hits a little too close to home:

I spent yesterday at a Social Phonics training in social media with emergent church leaders Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. At the end of the day, they shared a final list of tips for diving into the social media world.

Get a smartphone flashed on their slick Powerpoint. “Is there anyone we still need to convince to get one of these?” Doug asked with a bemused smile, waving his phone in the air.

My hand floated up.

Both men turned with a look of surprise to the youngest person in the room. They launched into a litany of reasons to get a smartphone: it’s the future of the Internet, it’s the way people communicate today, it’s going to replace laptops in just a few years.

I listened to their logic. I smiled graciously. But all I could think about were my two boys.

They need me to look at them more, not my phone. They need me to listen to them more closely, not my email. And while I can’t be present to them 24/7, I want to show them the power of connecting by disconnecting.

Even though I struggle, it’s a spiritual practice for parenting that I want to cultivate: presence. When my day is already full of email and work, laptop and phone calls, I don’t want to add another constant distractor to the mix. Saying no to smartphones is my act of resistance.

I’m digging in my feet as long as I can, for them. While I embrace email, blogging and social media as ways to connect with people I love, I also have little people right in front of me who need to connect with me even more. I want to be present to them as best I can when they’re still so small.

So for now, this mama is sticking with a decidedly dumbphone. Which is why I never got your text.

(But you can always try our land line!)

9 thoughts on “why i’m sticking with my dumbphone

  1. I’m right there with you! I don’t even know how to text. Actually, I’m not a phone person at all. I prefer emailing. But we have a landline because I don’t want to miss calls if someone needs to reach me, and at least with the landline I can hear it all across the house without having to remember to bring my cell phone with me from room to room. (And I’ve had the same cell phone for the past 4 years and could definitely upgrade, but I don’t see the point.) The only time I turn my cell phone on is when I’m away from my son. I only give out the number to my husband, my mother, and my son’s preschool. Some day I might actually get a laptop, but I’ll have to get a mouse for it because I feel the need for a full keyboard and a mouse. Yes, I know I’m a dinosaur!

  2. I would love to repond, but I just got a text message, took a picture on Instragram, updated my status on Facebook, read sports rumors on Twitter, Facetimed with my gf, answered a voicemail, got naviagtion for my commute home, asked Siri for the closest Mexican restaurant, had Pandora playing in the background the whole time, answered 4 work emails, booked a flight on my Southwest app, and checked the Wall Street Journal for any news… So i got distracted and forgot to respond.

    Guilty as charged to much of what you described in your post. I will continue to mock you and your technological ancient spouse, but at least now I understand your reluctance to join the dark side.

    1. The best part is, I’m pretty sure all of that is 100% true.

      Glad to know we have reached a truce re the dark side. Although it is dripping with irony that we had this exchange on my BLOG – who’s tech-ier now?

  3. You are very smart to avoid the smart phone. I have an iPhone, and while it has made it easier to work from home, it also blurs the line between work and life. I know I need to make more of an effort to put it down more often.

    I am now fully addicted to my smart phone – there is no turning back!

  4. I have dumbphone too, but my reason is mostly financial. $30 more a month is huge for our family budget! Thank’s for your thoughts on this!

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