Why I got rid of my iPhone

It was another gloomy evening during the pandemic, I was alone splayed on my couch, my computer in my lap, periodically picking up and checking my iPhone.

Who knows what I was looking at, maybe some NYT cooking videos, MrBeast’s mega giveaways, or lazily searching for something to play in the background so I wouldn’t feel like I was wasting time when really I had nothing to do.

On my iPhone, I looked through my email, pulling down to refresh. The page loaded, but remained the same. No new emails, just the numerous important ones that I had been avoiding for days.  I said to myself that I didn’t have a good response formulated yet.

I flipped over to Facebook Messenger and iMessage and saw no new messages. When there was a conversation though, I would just engage in texting and flipping through apps for endless hours until I needed to get water, use the bathroom, was hungry, or my back ached.

Opening up Instagram was the worst because I would scroll endlessly and look at profiles of people whose names I would not even be able to remember if I didn’t see them regularly on Instagram. Tapping through instagram stories was unstimulating and posting my own anxiety-causing. 

I picked up my phone every 5-10 minutes (about the length of my attention span) whenever I felt bored or an urge to look at something different, scarcely able to focus on anything deeply. 

Hopefully, I would remember to call a friend, and on those nights, I felt the best about existing within my four corners.

Really, I was just sitting there because I finished my work for the day and thought 10 or 11 PM was too early to sleep, and I needed to pass that last hour of my day.

These nights passed like a blur, not to mention the mornings when I sat with my phone for half an hour before going on a run.

I had been trying to reduce my screentime for almost five years. As a student, I would leave my phone off during classes and always in my backpack. I tried turning my phone off for two to three days at a time when I needed to focus intensely. I tried leaving my phone at home whenever I left the house. I tried turning my phone monochrome. I tried going tech free every Sunday. I tried monitoring my screentime and setting goals. I tried setting pacts with friends. 

None of it worked long-term, I would rebound back to being on my phone for about two to four hours every day.

It was on one of these aimless nights that I decided to get a flip phone.

Because of COVID-19, there were no events I was missing out on. No one could spontaneously call or text me to hang out. I had nothing urgent I needed to respond to work wise via phone that I couldn’t do on my computer. 

I thought about what it would be like to raise children in a home with so much technology, sitting at a restaurant, playground, or in our living room looking at my phone instead of talking to the children. If I wanted to be a good example, which I think is the best way of parenting, I knew I’d have to start now.  This was the perfect time to do something drastic, in a last ditch attempt to really change my phone habits.

Lastly, I did this calculation.

✕ 365
✕ 70 yrs

= 51,100 hrs

of my life which was 5.8 years of my life. Imagine being at the end of your life, and wishing you had one more minute to live, when you could have had almost 6 more years to live.

Seeing this number made me pull the trigger. I went on Best Buy and down a rabbit hole to find the best flip phone for me.

I bought the Alcatel GoFlip 3.

My First Month With a Flip Phone

I decided to get a flip phone when I felt like I was not missing out on much during the pandemic. 

The first month was a hard transition because I had been using iPhones for almost 8 years. My iPhone 7 Plus has travelled with me, heard me crying to friends after a breakup, snapped pictures of blackboards after lectures, and guided me to secret beaches.

The first step was removing my SIM card from my iPhone and placing it in my flip phone. Pretty straightforward, right? Yet, because it was easy to switch the SIM card back and forth, I frequently found myself right back to using my iPhone again. So, I started observing why I needed an iPhone. 

Most of the reasons were for going out. I would need directions on how to get to a friends house. I would see a beautiful sunset I wanted to take pictures of. I would want to look up good ice cream or a restaurant nearby. I would discreetly text someone that I’d be a few minutes late when I was still hanging out with a different person. 

This happened much less during the pandemic, and I started brewing up alternatives for my “needs” I had for a smartphone. 

I bought this camera to replace my photo taking needs. The Canon Ivy REC has been a fun attachment to my wallet. 

A fading sunset I can still capture on my Canon Ivy REC camera

I check google maps before I head to a friends place and use my car GPS to travel anywhere new. I write down addresses on paper that I can type into the GPS. 

Now, I look up places to eat and visit ahead of time. And honestly, most of my friends have iPhones, and I can peak over their shoulder as they search up the highest rated seafood nearby. 

A restaurant we found just by walking around the docks and following the direction that most people were walking. See my friends with their iPhones taking pictures that are as good as my pictures

I was more timely and aware of my tardiness and made it a part of my identity to not be late. 

This first month, I also noticed my focus increasing during my working hours. I still wanted to impulsively grab something to read or scroll my eyes on at random breakpoints during the day. I bought some Chinese books that I had been wanting for years and set that there as my easy distraction. 

By using our smartphones, we are just distracting ourselves from the hard work that needs to be done. We use them to pass the “extra” time until it’s crunch time and the deadline is imminent. Only then, do we have no option but to work. The smartphone is just enabling our tendencies to procrastinate. 

Very few people want to sit alone with their thoughts and twiddle their thumbs. You can confront uncomfortable feelings and realize unsettling things about yourself or others. You may realize it’s time for a career switch or to terminate something you’ve been subconsciously, or consciously, avoiding, like a toxic friendship. Sitting alone with your thoughts with no distractions brings you in touch with reality. For a lot of people, this is simply too much, especially when experiencing alienation out of our control, and we just need a break. Unfortunately, it’s so much easier to just grab and click. 

What other reasons do you have for checking your phone? What is your creative solution?