Switching to Light Phones

For a long time I’ve known how bad phones are for us. The blue light. The decision fatigue. The time suck. What seems like a luxury of unlimited choices is, in fact, a burden. And while social media can be fun and be a way to connect actually being social in real life or over the phone is preferable. The average person has 3-5 close people (emergency contact type) and scientifically we can handle about 150 people being in our acquaintance. There are studies done on this.

It’s our caveman brains. Brains that have unbelievable capacity but haven’t changed much in our evolutionary history.

Based on my hobbies (reading, gardening and embroidery) I am definitely a person who romanticizes the past and believes that they were doing it better.

Sure, I’ve heard the hygiene arguments and the medical ones too.

But we really don’t need to wash our hair every day and I’d be willing to bet that without all the chemicals and preservatives in their food and water supply people 100+ years ago had a healthier baseline.

Do you watch/read Outlander? If yes, skip the next paragraph.

If no, then basically its about Claire Randall, a married, British combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to Scottland in 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world in which her life is threatened. She gets rescued from perilous situation after perilous situation by a hunky Scottsman and it’s historical fiction meets political thriller meets fantasy meets romance.

I brought it up because eventually she gets back to 1945, or 1948 maybe, I forget. But she’s in a hospital room and she complains about the noise. Radios, cars, people making a fuss outside. Back in her dangerous but simpler time she had more peace.

As someone who is sensitive to sound and seems to hear everything I immediately empathized with Claire. And realized how much ambient noise there is around me.

The tap of the keyboard. The buzz of the refrigerator. The traffic. The train. The kids. (How is it that two kids seem to make the noise of 20? And then how can 20 make the noise of 200?)

And it is worse when I have incoming sounds that my brain is trying to process while I’m also scrolling through Instagram and deciding every split second whether I like something enough to double tap or scroll past or click through or comment or respond.

Adults average 7 hours of screen time a day. Yes I fully understand that one, you’re reading this on a screen but if it were cost effective for me to mail you my blog posts I would. Two, many of us have jobs that require screen time but then your iPhone time (unless you work from your phone) should be less than 2 hours.

My iPhone average was usually around 4 hours a day. Most of that Instagram and texting. When I am writing at my laptop I do it in 2 hour blocks but it doesn’t happen every day. So let’s just say it averages to about 3 hours a day over the course of the week. And that puts me at the adult average of 7 hours.

Dan, my husband, and I have said for a long time that we want to use our phones less. Especially in front of the kids. Now that the kids are older (7 and 5) they definitely know about phones and their unlimited potential. Dan and I on the other hand grew up in the 90s when you might have had a computer at home but you also had to use your grandparent’s encyclopedia set to research your science project.

We had the Nokia brick phones that could call and text (T9) and play snake. Then it was flip phones and then Blackberries and then iPhones.

And now, it’s Light Phones.

The Light Phone II is designed to be used a little as possible. Basically a phone without an internet connection. So it has calls and texts (and notes and MP3 music storage and a directions function) but no social media, email or apps. 

The arrived Thursday and we got them set up Thursday night. So, how was our first weekend with our Light Phones you ask? It was easy! Fun! Freeing! It kind of felt like the first week of lockdown when it was fun to be stuck inside. Like camping.

This weekend was pretty normal for us. We had two kid birthday parties at indoor play spaces, a trip to the doctor for a Strep Test (negative, phew!), brunch after the strep test and some time on the sofa watching football. Laundry. Groceries. Tidying for Monica the cleaning lady.

Dan and I were able to communicate with each other and we shared the numbers with our parents. I still checked texts on my iPhone twice a day. And I used it to order food Saturday night but I placed the order and put the phone back in the drawer.

Paying for parking was a change. I had to do it at the kiosk instead of through the app and I over estimated the time we’d need by about 30 minutes. So, you’re welcome, City of Chicago.

Scanning a QR code was also a hurdle but Dan found a workaround by borrowing the iPad from the receptionist. 

There were a few moments when I reached for my iPhone to take a picture but honestly I’m okay not having seen photographic evidence of something the kids did. I saw it with my eyes. And when we divided and conquered during the kid birthday parties on Saturday and Sunday it was OK that we each only witnessed one kids’ funtivities. 

I was glad to not have my iPhone when my oldest was struck with a bought of nerves at the party he was at. I was able to focus on him and I didn’t pull my phone out to distract myself or him from the big feelings he was experiencing. I did pull it out to call and complain to Dan because I’ll always need to vent when my kids are being uncharacteristically needy.

I charged up our digital camera (and then had to order an SD Card reader because my MacBook doesn’t have an SD slot). These are the kinks we’ll get worked out here shortly.

I might be looking at a SD card to MacBook then AirDrop to iPhone in order to edit the photo and post to Instagram. So the debate becomes, do I just use my iPhone and save the trouble or do I stop posting to Instagram all together. I’ve done it before *shrug emoji*. There was about two years (2019-2021) when I didn’t post to Instagram. I logged in probably once a month to see the posts my favorite influencers had shared (Jenna Kutcher and Erin Loechner mostly)

Going forward the plan is to keep our iPhones docked. Dan will have his at his desk and I will keep mine in our front room console. This way we can still stream music through our Sonos system, order take out and check in on Social Media. I will keep mine plugged in to remove the temptation to walk around with it or stick it in my pocket.

Our goal is to reduce screen time overall but more so to retrain our brains to be present when we’re out in the world with people and when we’re sitting around together at home. Laptops are at our desks for work. We sit down with a purpose to use them. The same is now true for our iPhones. 

A hopeful by-product will be a better connection with each other and our kids. Because that’s 3 of our 5 closest human connections right there.

Part of me feels like I’m on vacation where service is bad. Part of me feels liberated. We’ll see how this goes and there will be updates! I have a feeling that my we-can-do-it-the-old-fashioned-way self is going to love it. 

Just like I love not having a microwave.

I will miss sending emojis and gifs freely in my messages but I’ll channel that energy into my weekly email newsletters (Tuesdays for all, Fridays for Beautycounter). And I’ll play a lot of solitaire with my Italian Phrases card deck


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