Last month, Scott and I went from having dumbphones without texting plans to smartphones with texting plans. I had been lobbying for this move for about two and a half years. I wanted a smartphone and texting plan for convenience, mostly. But also, if I’m honest, because a part of me felt left out: it seemed like everyone else* had a smartphone. And, therefore, everyone else could do neat things that I couldn’t, like send each other messages and photos and get reviews for a restaurant while traveling.
Scott, on the other hand, had been lobbying against smartphones for the last two and a half years. He was worried that we’d become the couple that stares at our phones instead of at each other in restaurants. It’s true that phones can be addicting; some researchers even suggest putting a warning on smartphones about their addictive qualities. And a variety of people have written about how smartphones are ruining our lives. He argued, “why would you increase your monthly phone bill so much for something that ruins your life?”
The decision to switch was not easy. But we both knew that texting was becoming a bigger part of our lives. And we travel enough to know that it’s nice to have information at our fingertips. Plus, we found a plan through Cricket that is a few dollars less than what we were paying for our dumbphones through AT&T – and still uses AT&T’s towers.
So far, I don’t think the phone is ruining my life. In fact, I really (really) like it.
Before this new phone and plan, I would have huge amounts of guilt about receiving text messages, let alone sending them. Sometimes when I travel for work, all I have time to do is text Scott that I arrived at my destination. But I’d be riddle with guilt. $.50 to send that text from my phone. $.50 for Scott to receive that text on his phone. That’s a whole dollar! Now, there’s no guilt. I’ve sent so many texts; just this morning I texted with my grandma (the one who also has a smartphone). Earlier this week, I texted a friend about going on a walk. I also texted pictures to my mom so she could help me decide which new ceiling fan to buy.
Before this new phone and plan, we often called my mom for directions or weather information while traveling. We did this so often we started to call my mom “Google Linda.” (Thanks, Mom!) We’d get lost and say, “Well, let’s just ask Google Linda where to go from here.” Or, “I wonder if Google Linda can tell us if that storm is moving toward us.” Of course, Google Linda was not always at home, so sometimes we didn’t really know if a storm was tracking toward us or not. And once we had to give up on finding a brewery. (Maybe that’s what pushed Scott over the edge toward smartphone ownership?) Now, we can find any brewery we want.
Before this new phone and plan, I had to type out my Google searches. Now I just talk to my phone: “OK, Google. What time does my local restaurant start serving dinner?” And an answer pops up. Like magic. Previously, if I searched for a phone number, I’d have to remember the number as I dialed it in my phone. (I have a little bit of dyslexia, so this was super-stressful. I have transposed numbers and talked with strangers.) Now, I just hit a phone icon and the phone does the dialing for me. Again, like magic.
Thankfully, we haven’t (yet) turned into people who are always on their phones. Maybe because our smartphones are on the lower-end of devices, so they’re not that much fun. Or maybe we were already addicted to the Internet on our laptops, so Internet addiction was already a part of our lives. Or maybe we’re just too seasoned to blame our lack of self-control around the Internet on a phone instead of ourselves. So, as of right now, our lives aren’t being ruined. Fingers crossed we keep feeling this way.
*According to the PEW Research Center, about 80% of people who are like me (my age, my education level, my income level) have smartphones. And texting plans. The Duggars have smartphones (though they disable the Internet if it’s a boy’s phone). My grandma has a smartphone. Even Garfield and Odie have smartphones, for crying out loud!