If you're anything like me, having your smartphone close by feels like second nature. While I make a pointed effort not to constantly look at my phone, I have to admit I use it pretty frequently throughout the day, both for work and for pleasure (aka scrolling through Twitter aimlessly). That said, though, there are some really good reasons to switch to a non-smartphone phone. Arguably, if you have better self-control than I do, you can achieve the same purpose simply by turning off your WiFi/Data and using your smartphone for its basic purpose: Talking on the phone (and maybe texting because hello, it is the modern age). For me personally, I think to disconnect, I'd need to go back to a standard phone that didn't have Internet capabilities; otherwise it'd be too tempting for me to plug-in my email, download just a few apps, check my Facebook once or twice... You know how it goes.
There are, obviously, many benefits to having a smartphone. It's convenience at your fingertips: It lets you stay immediately connected with your loved ones, it can keep you well-organized, and it can make so many aspects of your everyday life easier. On the other hand, your smartphone doesn't do anything for you that you can't do yourself; you can call your loved ones, organize your life with a paper and pencil, and plan your day ahead of time.
Personally, I sometimes worry that I'm becoming too dependent on my smartphone; maybe it's a good idea to step back and disconnect from technology for a while. And that's where switching back to a good old fashioned flip phone comes in: A flip phone doesn't give you push notifications. A flip phone has a limited game selection. A flip phone is a tool you can use — not a tool that uses you.
An awful of research supports the idea of unplugging, too — so if you're looking for a reason to give up your smartphone, you might give these some consideration:
1. You Can Leave Work At Work
Even if you love your job, it's likely you want to leave your work, well, at work. No matter what your role entails, it's easy to feel like your work continues even when you're off the clock. Group emails, calendar updates, follow-ups from coworkers; all things that are certainly important, but in reality, it can wait until you clock back into work the following morning, right?
When we have smartphones and our email is constantly refreshing, however, it's easy to feel like these notifications are things we need to respond to right now. (And, I mean, sometimes they are, but a lot of the time, they're not). In this way, it can like we never really put the stress of work aside actually enjoy our time off because we're still engaged in our working lives. It's a recipe for disaster — and for burnout.
2. You Have An Excuse To Get Out Your Real Camera
I love Instagram as much as the next person, and yes, I'm even guilty of taking pictures of my food, so I get why smartphones and photography feel like one in the same in our contemporary age. However, real cameras are a thing which exist, and, on the whole, they're more advanced and technical than what we have available to us on our cellular devices. If you own an actual camera, take it out!
In the age of fancy smartphones, I feel like wherever I go, I see people snapping couple photos, family photos, landscape photos and anything else they can think of on their phones. Handy, yes. But is it always the best quality? Does it always provide you with the best artistic freedom? For some people, the answer is probably yes, and that's OK! But I've personally found that I'm much more creative and thoughtful with my photography when I'm using my actual camera, not my smartphone. It also encourages me to go back to my photos and edit them with a more nuanced touch later instead of just smacking an Instagram filter on them and posting it right away.
3. You Will (Probably) Appear More Approachable In Public, If That's Something You're Into
Even when I know someone well, I personally feel awkward interrupting someone when they're on their phone. You know, that hunched over posture and focused expression as someone types away? Yeah, it is not the most approachable body language. And certainly, you are not obligated to appear friendly or approachable to anyone, especially not to strangers in public.
However, if you are interested in making new friends, meeting a new love interest, or just getting to know someone new in general, it seriously can be done in person... But it probably means looking up from your phone. And I don't just mean at random intervals, but as a consistent, steady thing you're comfortable with doing while you're at the cafe, on the bus, etc. Disconnecting from your phone lets you be more in-tune with others around you, and you never know, you may just notice something in common with the person sitting right next to you.
4. You Can Catch Up On Reading
Be honest: When was the last time you read a book? An actual printed on paper, hand-held book? I personally don't hate e-readers and often read books in e-form on my laptop myself, but I have to admit, there's something about reading a "real" book that relaxes my brain. The science is all over the place considering whether or not e-reader screens are bad for your eyes.
Personally, I spend enough time staring at a screen for work and school purposes that I really don't need the extra hours staring at another screen, even if it's for pleasure reading. I think there's something to be said for the overall experience of reading a book as well; there's that awesome book smell and the physical act of turning pages helps me immerse more fully in the text. Without your smartphone right there to distract you with notifications, it's easier to get into a book and become fully engaged with the material.
5. You Have More Time For Self-Reflection
In our hyper plugged-in world, it can feel impossible to get some breathing room and reflect on your day. While it's really, really easy to fall into a pattern of scrolling social media and texting all our friends when we need to unwind, there's something to be said for just being alone with your thoughts. Without a smartphone, there are simply less distractions at your fingertips which frees up your mind to focus on, well, yourself. Some people enjoy meditation or yoga as ways to get inside their heads and examine themselves, their choices, and their beliefs, but others benefit from just sitting back and disconnecting from the outside world, including technology.
So, there you have it! Even if you're totally addicted to your smartphone, it's important to remind yourself that you can survive without being connected 100 percent of the time. Whether it means giving up your smartphone cold turkey or just making a conscious effort to spend less time staring at the screen, I think it's important to remind yourself that balance is key, and it's OK to flip the phone over and disconnect when you need to.
Images: Yoann JEZEQUEL Photography/Moment/Getty Images; Giphy