When thinking about my smartphone usage I always long for something simpler. A life not filled with beeps and bings, one without a phone at all — but there is always something in the way. A need to be contacted, a reason to have emails pushed to your phone at all hours of the day or a drive to be contactable. So when all reasons in the world seem to conspire against you, at some point something has to give and I wasn’t prepared to change my stance.
When the notion was first posed that smartphone were perhaps too good, I was dismissive. Overly critical at the very idea that a company must make their product worse in order to stop people using it so much. In fact it’s absurd, to think that people don’t have enough self control to sort themselves out and require someone else to do it for them. That reasoning still somewhat exists, but I don’t blame Apple for manipulating me, but I know it is written into the DNA of attention merchant companies.
It is almost impossible to resist without a hyper conscious focus on resisting the urges they pull on. This isn’t so much about self control, we aren’t dealing with having one too many donuts, these are base urges that are being used against us all. Each and everyone of us.
So I can hardly be critical when I know it’s happening, I am aware of the tricks and the techniques used — and still fall for them. So those less aware and less conscious about these issues stand no chance whatsoever, but they are hardly going to live without a smartphone without a serious hinderance on their lives. They are so ingrained in us now that in may places I can’t park my car, book a taxi or open my hotel door without needing an app for that. There is no way to go back, not now, not ever.
So my dream of using something dramatically different is dead, only accelerated by COVID-19 into a world filled with contactless payments, app purchases and smartphone addiction. I might need a smartphone to live, but I don’t need to use it more than essentials, I can remove a lot of usage with some effort.
My dream of going back has changed, my smartphone has changed but my dream is not quite dead — yet.