I eliminated most of the apps from my smartphone

I couldn’t believe it when I received the email about the digital detox from Punkt., it was perfect! I had been looking for an excuse to take a break from my smartphone for ages and here it was, direct to my inbox!

 

Day one – Nice to meet you

I received the package and opened it to find the MP01. However, I was in a hurry so decided not to open it there and then. I left it on the table, still wrapped up, because the packaging is nice, so nice in fact, I tell myself, it deserves to be opened slowly. It’s not a Christmas present to be ripped open, like a four-year-old would do.

The next day I took my time to get to know it and started to unwrap it. The packaging really is very good and is just the right start to this experience. You can tell it has been carefully thought out, so that everything has its place. There is something, however, that puzzles me: I am surprised to find an instruction manual. The smartphones I have used over the past few years have been designed to be so intuitive and user friendly that they have done away with the need for an instruction manual. Now though, I find myself holding a phone that can only be used for calling or texting and I must read an instruction manual to use it? Oh well! I put the instruction manual to one side and concentrate on the phone, which is nice, light, “strange”! It looks a little bit like a remote control, in fact this is the comment I will hear the most from those who see me using it. Once charged, we’re ready to go. I turn it on and am welcomed by a sweet little pigeon, I love these things!

I insert the SIM card and come up against the first, big hitch – no phone numbers! No contacts list at all, nothing! I feared as much, and in fact had enquired about whether it was possible to save the phone numbers to the SIM card (like old times…) but times have changed and this obsolete option is no longer available. This did slightly compromise my digital detox as it forced me to take my old phone with me, just to use as a phone book.

 

Week one

Once over the first hurdle of the contacts list, I begin the first phase of the digital detox: entire minutes spent writing text messages that before took mere seconds (wretched T9!) and lots of phone calls, because it’s quicker than texting.

The first few days are fun, although every so often a little disheartening. I feel a bit like a child with a new toy that doesn’t really do anything. Put like that it seems obvious, but being used to devices that provide such a high level of entertainment means that using more basic objects can come as a bit of a shock.

Almost immediately, I come across another hurdle to overcome, after the lack of a contacts list… WhatsApp! Let’s face it, today 95% of us send messages via WhatsApp; text messages are just outdated. I try to get around this by downloading WhatsApp on my computer, so as not to lose any messages that may be important.

I must say that the rest of the week went smoothly, without any big surprises.

 

Week two – the beginning of the end

Week two of using the MP01 started just as the first week had ended, although my initial enthusiasm had given way to the feeling of “ok, what now then?”.

Although the lack of constant access to social media doesn’t really bother me, the lack of apps such as WhatsApp, Google Maps and Spotify (!!!) is starting to. I know I could get around this by taking a camera, an MP3 player and even a map with me everywhere I go, but is there really any need? Do I really want to lug a rucksack full of things around with me when I can have something that gives me all this in my pocket? Mmm, the balance is starting to tip….

 

Conclusion – back to reality

After two weeks, I feel that my digital detox is over. The initial goal was one month but after two weeks I realize that the mission has been accomplished. I have found the answers I was looking for and I now know that there is no need to go back 15 years to avoid feeling overpowered by digitalization. The key lies in careful use of the means we (fortunately) have access to today. New generation smartphones are extremely powerful tools that can make our lives easier in many ways. The apps are the real problem but it is up to each of us to decide which ones to install on our phones. At the end of my digital detox I immediately eliminated most of the apps (especially social media ones) from my smartphone. The difference was immediately apparent and in the evening, my battery still has some charge left….

Thank you Punkt. and thank you digital detox. Could I have done it on my own anyway? Perhaps it’s not so much a question of dumb or smart phone, but of dumb or smart user…

 

Nicholas Andina
Locarno, Switzerland
 

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