Sunday, March 3, 2019

4 Reasons I Now Use a Flip-Phone

Convenience vs. Holiness: Why I Switched


Edit: I wrote this back in July 2018, but I still use a flip-phone and hold to the same thoughts.

At the beginning of December 2017, I made a decision to downgrade from my iPhone to a flip-phone with a data-free plan. It had been over two years since I first purchased the smartphone, and, yes, the transition was a little rough. Now, seven months later, I have since received many questions regarding my reason for the switch. Though my answers have varied from person to person, the overarching reason is this: I concluded that the convenience of a smartphone was not worth the harm to my personal holiness. What follows, then, are some things I have learned since the switch. But let me be clear for you. I am not trying to argue that owning a smartphone is a sin for everyone or that I am somehow more righteous than everyone else because I switched back. What I am sharing right now is simply my personal reflection on what I have learned from the experience thus far. Are there people out there who would be wise to take a break from their smartphone? Yes. Is that the case for every smartphone user? No. Am I in a place to make that call for you, the reader? Absolutely not. I simply invite you to read on and learn from it what is most helpful for you in your walk.

1. Convenience can be an idol. 

Technically, this first point was something I learned the day I made the switch. For a while, my considerations to switch back to a “dumb phone” for the sake of personal holiness were stifled by the greater value I allotted to convenience. I realized, by God’s grace, that I was placing such stock in the convenience of my phone that it was preventing me from seeing the far greater importance of my own walk with Christ. My use of an iPhone was far too frequently tearing down my degree of holiness rather than building it up. The decision to switch was made when God showed me that convenience had become an idol--an idol that was keeping me from sanctification.

2. There is a fine line between “tool” and “distraction.”

This point may very well be something I learned through different articles or books, but, regardless, I have learned it experientially as well. If I had to categorize the time I was spending on my iPhone between using it as a tool for practical, beneficial uses and as a distraction, I’d probably slice it around 30/70. If I recall correctly, one study on smartphone use estimates that we look at our smartphones approximately every four minutes. I hate saying it, but I think I landed below that figure. What’s really telling, though, is the fact that the habit of looking at my iPhone has carried over to my flip-phone! That’s right. Sometimes I catch myself just pulling out my phone, looking at the time and then putting it back in my pocket—because that’s about as much as I can do with a flip-phone—unless I have a text. But, really, it’s just as ridiculous! “Travis, you know what time it is. You looked three minutes ago!” While there are far fewer ways for me to turn my current phone into a distraction rather than just using it as a tool, it’s either humorous or sad or both that I still try. Distraction may not always be a bad thing necessarily, but I, for one, overstay my welcome far too often.

3. I don’t need a smartphone.

There is no question that dozens of doors of convenience that were once inaccessible to us are now available through our smartphones. The list of helpful tasks that these hand-held computers can perform has very quickly become inexhaustible. Email, reminders, web surfing, clocking in/out, reading books, and listening to music or podcasts are but a small fraction of what can be done with these pocket devices.

Yet, I can say definitively from my own experience that, though life may be “harder” without these conveniences, I do not need a smartphone in order to function. Over the last seven months, though I have missed the ease with which I could communicate using my iPhone, I have adapted and have not experienced any serious drawbacks as a result of downgrading to a flip-phone. Now, keep in mind that I have not abandoned all electronic devices. I am typing this article on a MacBook after all. In this age of digital technology, there is much that relates to school and/or work for which I simply need access to a computer. And though the times when my laptop was out of commission happened prior to the phone switch, I do think I would be okay if it happened now—rough as it would be.

4. Faces are far more enjoyable than screens.

I’m still learning this lesson. In the same way that the “crossover effect” is causing me to look at my flip-phone too often, I still tend to spend too much time on my laptop simply because I’m used to the screen time. However, I have still learned that the shallows of screen entertainment have little to offer in place of the depths of face-to-face interaction and community.

Can I offer a challenge?

People have told me that what I did seems radical. Perhaps in the sense that I don’t know of many people who have actually done this, yes. It is radical. But in terms of the change it will bring to your life…it’s not. At least, it doesn’t remain so. Again, the transition is rough, but beyond that, there is a sense of release. So here’s an invitation: give the switch a try. 3 months. 6 months. It doesn’t have to be permanent. It may not be for me. But there is much to be learned if you give it a try.

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