You may have heard about the dumb phone revolution or the anti-smartphone movement and thought, “That sounds intriguing!” This article is written for you.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to spend less time on the internet, ditch your smartphone (or not use a phone at all), keep reading! We’ve compiled facts about smartphone addiction, quotes from people who have tried it, and a list of options if you’re thinking about leaving your smartphone behind. We’ll even talk about whether business owners should consider taking the leap.
What is the Anti-Smartphone Movement?
The anti-smartphone revolution has emerged in response to the smartphone revolution which began in 2007 with the release of the first Apple iPhone.
Heralded by a growing number of Gen Z adults, the “anti-smartphone movement/revolution” is the term for the move away from smartphones and back to “dumb phones,” or feature phones. It’s become a way for people to reclaim their time and sanity as they go through their days with fewer interruptions or distractions.
Since feature phones are only able to do minimal tasks (call, text, and maybe the occasional game of Snake), it significantly cuts down on the number of notifications.
A Look at Smartphone Addiction
According to research, smartphones have an adverse effect on our emotional and mental states. They’ve been shown to increase:
In addition to mental and emotional strain, smartphones are notorious for enabling companies to spy on us. In the marketing space, we’re no strangers to data and analytics. When we perform a demographic analysis, we can learn a lot from consumers.
Even if you participate in these things, however, chances are that the thought makes you a bit uncomfortable. By ditching a smartphone, you make it harder for you to be targeted by these marketing techniques. In other words, you can enjoy more privacy!
People Who Have Made the Switch
Proponents of the anti-smartphone movement say that the change had a significant impact on their mental well-being and ability to interact more positively with their environment. Here are some of the quotes from people who have made the switch!
Although this first anecdote isn’t smartphone-related, it does have to do with the internet (which is what we tend to use our smartphones to access). Singer Selena Gomez says of her 4 ½ years away from the internet: “It has changed my life completely. I’m happier; more present. I connect more with people… it makes me feel normal.”
Shubham Agarwal of Digital Trends
Tech journalist Shubham Agarwal decided to get a Nokia 8810 to break his smartphone addiction. In an article about his switch, he said, “I’m sick of looking at my phone all the time. I can’t help it. I’m tired of constantly being bombarded with notifications…”
He goes on to say that he’s tried other measures to reduce screen time. “I’ve set screen time limits, switched off… notifications, invested in a smartwatch. Still, I feel hijacked by my smartphone and the companies behind it… using my phone has begun to channel a sense of fatigue and anxiety within me.”
His experience with the Nokia phone went well: “Despite my early skepticism, it has surprised me. I was able to (do) as I do normally (albeit at a much slower typing speed). More importantly, switching to a feature phone disabused me of the illusion that my life will come to a screeching halt without my smartphone. It made me realize how insignificant most of what I used to do on my phone actually is.”
Tom Johnson of I’d Rather Be Writing
Tom Johnson also made the move away from smartphones. In his blog, he talks about some of the positive and negative effects of moving away from his smartphone.
Here’s a quick recap of his findings:
- A newfound love for print. “Reading print material is 10x more enjoyable to me. If someone sends me a long email, I print it out. I can focus better, annotate it, and save it. Hardback books, especially used, are cheaper than Kindle versions anyway.”
- Navigational superpowers. “I needed to go to an unfamiliar address the other day and I consulted a paper map. After one trip, I’d committed the route to memory. I have a keener sense of the cardinal direction I’m traveling, and when I combine that with the avenue/intersection I’m aiming for, it works out.”
- Hitting “unsubscribe.” “I have been unsubscribing relentlessly to everything that arrives unsolicited in my email inbox. With less email, I’m much less distracted. In my personal inbox, I deleted all my previous filtering rules. Life is better with (an) email that is personal only.”
- Increased distaste/distrust of screens. “I’ve become more distrustful of screens in general, including computer screens. When I look around, it seems that everyone is focused on screens almost all day long. Is this what life has come to – always looking at screens? I feel a cognitive dissonance about technology in general… what else can I abandon? How can I move back to the 90s or early 2000s with tech?”
A Member of the Matcha Design Team
One of our team members ditched her smartphone early on in 2020. In fact, she went completely without a smartphone for over a year. Here’s what she had to say.
“I didn’t realize how much time I was spending on my smartphone. I used it anytime there was a lull in the day.
“At first I had a lot of anxiety around it. I thought, ‘What if something terrible happens while I’m out and I don’t have my phone with me? And how do I find my husband at the store?’
“I eventually realized that I wasn’t missing out. I found my husband the same way they did in ‘the old days’ – by looking around! I knew I could borrow a phone from a stranger if I needed to make an emergency call.
“During my time away from a smartphone, I took up gardening and playing the ukulele. I was more aware of my surroundings and spent more time outdoors.
“It was difficult at times – I got writing assignments that required an app download, so I borrowed my husband’s phone and deleted it later. To echo the sentiments of other people who’ve tried it, I grew to dislike smartphones during this time. You notice how often people bury their faces in smartphones when you don’t have yours in one!
“Living phone-free was a breath of fresh air.”
A List of Feature Phone Brands
There are a lot of feature phone brands available, including:
There are even apps to help simulate what it’s like to use a smartphone. In fact, Shubham Agarwal of Digital Trends recently wrote about his experience with Ratio, an app that removes the color from your smartphone, making it less enjoyable to use (and therefore, less addicting).
Dagogo Altraide from ColdFusion wrapped up his Anti-Smartphone Revolution video by suggesting that a “dumb phone mode” may be a good idea in the future, so it’s possible that we’ll see more of these types of apps popping up.
Should Business Owners Hop Onto the Trend?
Sure, ditching a smartphone has its benefits, but is it the right choice for business owners? After all, there is much that needs to be done, so you may have qualms about whether switching to a feature phone is feasible.
In many cases, that depends. Nearly anything is possible if you set your mind to it (and do your best to prepare for it). It turns out that you can be successful and have a flip phone! Though the article is dated, it proves that you can make the choice.
That said – you should evaluate whether it’s the right choice for you. Does your company require a near-constant connection to the internet? If you’re in marketing or design, it may be harder to unplug. It all depends on the workarounds you come up with and what helps you. The answer may be as simple as hiring a marketing expert to free up your time!