How to Go Back to a Flip Phone
“The physical absence was the first thing I noticed,” says Katie Reid, 29, who gave up her iPhone in February for a flip phone. “It felt like something was missing from my body.” This phantom-limb-like sensation will last about a month; a flip phone will never have that same hold on you. To make the transition tolerable, wean yourself slowly. For Reid, who is the director of digital media at a boys’ school in Baltimore, the process took years. First, do a smartphone self-diagnosis. “If there’s something in your gut telling you this isn’t good for you, explore that,” says Reid, who found that the constant access to social-media sites, Twitter especially, made her anxious and sad.
She began by removing the social-media apps from her iPhone. That might be enough, but if you continue to feel a compulsion that makes you uneasy, consider flip-phonedom. Start paying more attention to geography. Reid worried most about the loss of GPS-enabled maps. Without them, you’ll need to plan ahead by looking up directions and printing them out or writing them down. “I bought some maps for my car,” Reid says. You will occasionally get lost. Still, take comfort in the fact that smartphones are all around you; nearly 80 percent of adults in the United States have one. You can ask for directions. Others can order an Uber or Lyft for you. Recently, Reid’s 1-year-old daughter had a birthday party. “I didn’t take any pictures,” she says, but of course she knew that someone else would.
Prepare for clunky predictive-texting technology. For Reid, this T9 texting — that is, without a full keyboard — is the most irksome thing about the flip phone. You’ll end up calling people more often.
Social interactions will be challenging. People will tease you or apologize sheepishly for using their phones in front of you. Your parents might be frustrated. Onlookers will assume you hate technology. Maybe you do, but Reid doesn’t. She spends long stretches of her days in front of a computer, but she has no desire to go back to a smartphone. “There was this expectation that I was going to be reachable all the time,” Reid says. “I like not having to answer to that.”