Goodbye, iPhone

Nature's filter: the iPhone

My relationship with the iPhone is coming to an end.

I love the iPhone. Rather, I love what it was before it became indispensable. But when a piece of technology becomes indispensable, I think we need to pause for a moment to evaluate whether we can’t truly live without it or whether it has insinuated itself in our lives in ways that make it seem like we can’t live without it. In other words, has the smartphone affect us in ways that have come to make us depend on it?

Expense

Smart phones are expensive. They are expensive to acquire and even more expensive to operate. In the last month, I paid over $94 for cellular voice and data services for 47 minutes of voice and 266 MB of data. For voice, this amounts to over $1 per minutes, which is ridiculously expensive.

Instead, I could purchase a prepaid phone for $20 or less, and a basic plan for $0.10 per minute. If I talk for 47 minutes, this would cost $4.70 per month without text messages.

Distraction can feel a lot like productivity

The problem with smartphones is that they can make the user feel like he’s accomplishing something, even when the “something” in this case, is just checking the email, reading vapid tweets, or updating Facebook status. But it’s a mental trick that the iPhone has played on us. All of these things involve the same motions - staring into the screen and gesturing with the fingertips, as doing something productive; so from a purely motor basis, we feel like we actually done something.

People? What people?

A UK study from 2011 showed that 50% of smartphone owners use their devices when they are in the company of others. The same study showed that 25% of users use their devices during mealtimes. Three years after these data were published, the situation is almost certainly even less favorable.

It takes practice to communicate with another person in an open way. It takes eye contact, attention, and reflective listening - all skills that are eroded by constant interaction with smartphones.

The decision

In the end, I’ve made the decision based on many converging factors. I enjoy being able to navigate in unfamiliar places using my phone; but I could buy a map ahead of time, or gasp, actually ask for directions. And my spatial reasoning skills would probably improve as a result.

I enjoy being able to take a photograph whenever the moment arises; but it’s not really necessary.

And email? Do really need to check it that often?