Updates on dumbing down my phone

Three days ago, I dumbed down my phone by enabling Ultra STAMINA mode, limiting all communication to just phone calls and SMS. My battery was around 50% at that time and right now, it’s at 23%. That means it can probably last another two days. If I give it a full charge, it can probably last more than a week easy.

So what happened these past three days? I sent four SMS, two were left hanging with no replies, another two replied back. One friend actually called me this morning, so that’s nice. No clue what’s going on in WhatsApp, there might be a couple of messages waiting but I’ll deal with them later, probably sometime tomorrow or the next day, once I disabled Ultra STAMINA mode, which requires rebooting my phone.

What’s my takeaway from this mini-experiment? It’s inconvenient, one friend laments that it costs 40 cents just to text me, which I also have to pay, it’s such an unnecessary cost. In exchange, I’ve barely touched my phone these few days as there’s nothing to do, I can’t even read pdf files or write any notes. I can only listen to music, check the time/date/calendar, take and view pictures, use the calculator and that’s pretty much it.

So what did I do? Stare blankly at the wall? Ironically, yes. Spending time alone with only my thoughts as company, thinking, noticing what’s around me and learning how to be comfortable doing nothing and enjoying my solitude. I’m pretty much the only one doing this, everyone else is either busy with their phones or picking up/putting down their phones. I even counted how many time this one guy pick-up-put-downs his phone for a quick check in the span of a few minutes. Twelve, twelve times!

Being the only person not looking at a screen every few minutes, that’s a very strange feeling indeed. It’s as if I can actually see what’s going on. As if I’m the only one living in the present moment. It scares me to think how society will be like in the next few years, especially when more and more children are exposed to smartphones and tablets at an increasingly young age. It’s really not uncommon to see parents giving their five-year-old a tablet just to keep them quiet.

So what am I going to do next? It’s not really sustainable for me to live a completely offline life. Going forward, I’m gonna need rules on how to manage my digital life. Simple rules with solid constraints. I could just turn off wifi and data, only turning it on in the evening, and uninstall a couple of apps. Or I could go cold turkey and “split” my phone into two, one for everyday carry and another for all the computer related usage?

Ideally, all I want is a way to not rely on willpower when it comes to picking up my phone. A way to ensure that I only pick it up when I need to, not when I want to. A way to ensure that I don’t glue my eyes to the screen just to distract my mind and escape boredom. A way to enable me to use my phone intentionally, not impulsively. But for now, let’s keep my phone the way it is for another day or two, or until the battery dies, or until someone calls me or texts me on something urgent.

Phone calls and SMS

Services like WhatsApp, LINE, and WeChat offer free audio/video calls and texting along with plenty of other features and most of the people you interact with, friends and families, use at least one of these free services.

Knowing that you can make unlimited audio/video calls and texts with just an internet connection or data plan, why would anyone still want to make traditional phone calls or send SMS to their friends and families, which also costs extra?

That’s probably the one thing holding me back from carrying a dumb phone, the loss of seamless and free of charge communication. Kinda pathetic, isn’t it? Considering that I’m fine with losing the app store and its plethora of random apps, social media, email, and web surfing.

I will miss the camera, GPS and music player though but I don’t think it’s such a big deal. The thing I’m not okay with is having to pay extra and changing the way I communicate with others, how weird is that? Because at the moment, I don’t make phone calls, I don’t send SMS, I don’t use my phone the way it was intended since its invention.

Ironic, isn’t it? If I pop out my sim card and change to a dumb phone, no one will be able to reach me. They would probably just send their messages through a random service and wait for the reply that might never come. Will anyone try to call or use SMS instead?

I hope they will, because starting right now, I’m starting the transition of dumbing down my phone. Disabling data and internet, blocking most of the apps and making it so that my phone behaves more like a phone and less like a computer. Basically, I’ve just enabled Ultra STAMINA mode.

It will be interesting to see what happens next, probably the only thing I’m concerned about is if someone from work tries to reach me on something urgent and fails at it. But I suppose I will manage somehow.

Still considering whether it’s worth changing to a dumb phone or simply toggling in and out of Ultra STAMINA mode every now and then. Let’s see how it plays out.

Inspired by digital minimalism.