Saturday, September 25, 2021

Losing My Smartphone Attachment

Working to curtail my Smartphone Attachment has been more of an effort than I anticipated.

The whole thing actually kicked off some months ago when, in a combination fit of anger and disappointment, I scaled back Book of Face involvement (which has essentially been reduced to nil).  As this percolated along, I read Live Not By Lies where someone who was an inhabitant of the former Czechoslovakia under the Communists made the fine point of why would anyone effectively install a government listening device (e.g. one of the voice activated "helpers") in their house  - and the comments were made in 2020, not 5 years after the fall of Communism.

Which got me to thinking about how much I used by Smartphone.

Not for calls - no, except for my veterinarian and Uisdean Ruadh, almost no-one uses the phone for calls anymore - but for everything else.  Tracking all sorts of little personal things - diet, exercise, sleep, even activities.  A little finance.  E-mail, of course.  And lots of texting (somehow, we feel that texting is much less intrusive than phone calls, although the expectation for a response is often the same).

But that got me thinking - why I am giving that information away?

At this point (after having used them), I have a pretty good idea what my caloric intake is, what my sleep patterns are, and how much I walk a day.  No need to share that any more.

So off those programs came from the phone.  And the phone started staying home when I went to walk.

Which led to other things coming off - apps that I still have and do not use anymore or apps that I probably should not use any more.

The other significant change I made to my smartphone is simply where I keep it.

Once upon a time, I kept it right beside me, like pretty much the rest of the world.  But I (as I have come to learn) am easily distracted by what is at hand.  So I have started putting the cell phone in another room. I walk by and check it occasionally, but not constantly.  This has cut down yet again on my overall use and is leading to yet another round of app purging.

The phone is still useful, to be sure.  Texting has its benefits, and there are apps (like my Physical training app) that make it possible for me to work with The Berserker three states away.  Checking mail is more convenient, as it contacting people (in passing, it is odd:  I have people who I talk to on very specific platforms and no other).  And the InterWeb on demand is a great benefit, as is having directions available right when I need them.

But the more I leave it aside and the more I remove things, the more I am finding that I am able to do without it.  I may never get back to a flip phone, but I can surely get away from it being a necessary item to have on person to being something I consult from time to time.


  1. Good for you TB. Smartphones have fallen into some sort of survival mentality for most people; can't imagine living without them.

    I tried smart phones twice, but found both to be extremely frustrating. One would routinely put my caller on hold and dial up my daughter-in-law in the middle of a conversation with that other person. (???) Even odder, I didn't use speed dial, so I have no idea how it was doing that! I finally went back to a flip phone. I can't text worth a hoot on the thing, but most people know that the fastest way to get me is by email because I check in on my computer several times a day. Now our phone service is doing away with 4G and tells us we have to update our phones. Dan and I don't want 5G, so we decided to go back to a landline. It will be a relief not to have to keep track of it and remember to feed (recharge) it every other day.

    1. Leigh - As Glen writes below, they can be very useful tools. But what you state is exactly what has becoming alarming in my own life: It has become something that I need to have with me almost constantly and something I give a great deal of data to and about me to people which, even if not those that may mean me ill, those that I literally know nothing about but am sharing more personal information than in some cases my friends and wife.

      It is odd that even though it is a smart "phone" (emphasis mine), I hardly use the phone portion for communication. I use the text function and various communication platforms to converse with people. In that sense it is more of a "smart communication device", but is hardly the sort of thing that rolls off the tongue eloquently.

      And parts of it are extremely useful: having a camera at hand all the time has allowed for some amazing pictures. Having small language apps allows me to fill time I would not otherwise fill. But neither of those are inherently "phone" functions and I have things like cameras and books which could fill the gap (but which neither of them are convenient).

      Were we to relocate to The Ranch at some point, we would likely need to get a landline as service there is spotty at best and really non-extant unless we route calls through the Wifi. And although it is heresy to suggest this, we forget that only as long ago as 10 years, this things were largely optional, not necessary.

      I suppose it is also in some way a practice to break my dependence on an item on which I have become seemingly over dependent.

  2. We are thinking along similar lines as we pass each other in opposite lanes.😂

    When I was a younger man I ran around in those khaki BDU pocket pants. When the pockets filled up with pads, pens, keys, nuts, bolts, coin, calculators, business cards, knives, flashlights…I went to a Batman belt… but i was still essentially a walking junk pile. To me the smart phone’s a magnificent tool. To NOT use it to its full potential only hurts you… or at least me, in my case.

    Say what you will of the katana, O Mighty Warrior Poet … but for some jobs I prefer double edged weapons. That phone may be spying on me… but it allows me to keep tabs on them too! I am not afraid of my gubbimint and if they intend me harm so be it - I will reciprocate and let the chips fall as they may. If they leave me alone that works too. They can spy on me all they want.

    We must not fear tyrants TB. If you fear them your choice is to live or die poorly… or both. If you don’t fear them, at least you still have the option to at least die well.

    1. We do seem to be so Glen - which is perfect okay! We get to exchange thinking on the way.

      I do not disagree with the fact that the Smartphone can be a marvelous sort of tool. And although I think the government will happily use the data therein to watch me, that is really only one of the thoughts. The larger concern was simply the fact I am allowing pretty much people I do not know (in the form of companies that access the data) to have the sort of intimate access to my life that even my actual friends and wife to do not have. And, I am giving it to them for free.

      Also, as indicated, for me it really can be an attention stealer - leaving it plugged in somewhere helps me focus a great deal more on the tasks at hand.

      It also negates this rather disturbing trend I have discovered that the Smartphone is one of the first things I reach for in the morning and something that (earlier) I almost always had to have on my person or know where it was at all times. That ought not to be; I should be able to keep or release any object at will and none should have hold over me. In that sense, changing my habits is not due to the object itself, but rather my weakness and perceived dependence on it. And I should not be dependent on any one thing or tool.

  3. "Hey dad? That phone is ringing off the wall, when are you gonna answer it?" "I know! Blast it! I had that put in for MY convenience not anyone else's. I'll answer it when and if I want to."

    Since July, I've kept my cell close. But last night, 2 Amber alerts ruined my sleep. And it's back to the other side of the house tonight. Done with that crap.

    One thing I've learned about people: We all have our own druthers. What works for me, is really silly for me to require of someone else. Getting my head around that as a young man sure saved me a lot of heartache. I don't care if you have your world on a phone. And I hope you give me slack for carrying an abacus and a slide rule in my hip pocket.... next to the flint and steel, notepad and pencil. The astrolabe is on a pole next to the door. It's just too big to wear on the gold neck chain.... ;)

    I don't use personal apps on mine. I know how easy it is to pull data off things and having my banking on it is a non starter. I do have a couple of the telehealth apps provided by our insurance, and corporate email. But it's a camera and a text terminal mostly. No music or anything else.

    I've thought about getting a smallish tablet, about the size of a phone. Wifi connectivity would be plenty good enough around the house for me. My laptop on the other hand has become my portal to the world. I never thought I'd have so much on one....

    Electronics are the bane and bonus of the world now I guess.... But I'm an anachronism for the most part. A troglodyte that makes money in IT. Hypocrisy In a Meat Suit. No, not nearly enough sleep....

    1. Ah STxAR - Those riveting days of trying to have a personal phone conversation when the phone was in the kitchen, or trying to drag it over to the garage, the phone cord stretched taut. The young people these days will never know the joys of shared communication...

      The contact thing is very surprising to me - at least preferences. This is more pronounced at the job: there are people that are best contacted by e-mail, others that are best contacted by a chat software, and yet others who response to texts (does anyone reply to calls any more?). Learning this system helps one to get the best response rate when one really needs an answer.

      One of the annoying things about the financial stuff on-line anymore - really anything online anymore - is they want you to send them your code when you try and log in. In some ways it is just simpler to access things on the phone, like my little investing account and my little crypto account.

      I am continuing to pare my apps down and while I do not think I will reach the point of just a text and camera terminal, I will continue to work at dropping it from my "must haves" on my person.

      I have been thinking about a tablet as well. I think it might have some particular uses a formal laptop will not.

  4. About a year ago I decided it was time to use some of that wonderful tech. Two weeks later and it's a big "PHUQUE THAT!" Went back to my old, simple flip fone. AT&T killed my 3g flip fone a couple weeks ago, after sending a new 4g flip fone. It has all kinds of shit that seems smart phonish, with out the "handiness" of a smarty. I don't trust it, though I have no proof of it listening, yet.

    1. TM - Ultimately that is my fear too, that at some point my current phone will get "de-platformed" and I will be left with the option of a new smartphone or no phone. At that point I may very well select the no-phone option.

  5. I call my mom every day.

    Too many numbers to remember without it.

    Texts are easy to ignore. One swipe and they are gone. Phones keep ringing.

    I set "do not disturb" for 2230. Only hubby and son would be allowed after that until 0700.

    No alerts allowed.

    If we had not had our cell phones with us, hubby would not have been able to call me Wednesday. I thank God for miracles and cell phones that day.

    But I also understand where you and Leigh are coming from.

    Everyone be safe and God bless.

    1. Linda, I would call my parents every Tuesday until February of this year, and then my father until April of this year. They were by far my biggest "customer".

      When I go to bed, I leave the phone out of the bedroom. One of the best decisions I made.

      Cell phones are indeed useful. We have been fortunate when our oldest traveled overseas that we could reach her at anytime. And in the event of an emergency, they are priceless.

  6. P.S. I don't have Alexa or Siri or any of that stuff. Just our cell phones and computers. Laptops have cameras and microphones taped over.

    1. Linda - Laptops have the cameras taped over as well. My microphone may be taped over?

    2. Not sure about your microphone, TB. Our laptops have two what look like pinholes? on either side of our camera. I verified with some test program that the camera is black and the microphone is certainly diminished. They are also disabled in the laptop software, but I don't trust that completely.

    3. Until you disconnect the wiring, they are available for use. You may not even know they are working, but it's a simple remote activation. We can watch webcams from all over the world.

      I read about an ex-mil blogger. He was google mapping around at some of his old military sites. When he put in the address for one, his webcam snapped a picture. He about had a cow on the spot. He saw a small window pop up with his picture then it immediately disappeared. That tech is sinfully easy to deploy.

    4. Linda - Yes, you were exactly right! That is right where they are - I have verified the camera is black, but will get a larger piece of tape to cover the microphone as well.

      STxAR - I do know that when I have had reason for our IT group to get in at work, they just pop right in. The cynical side of me thinks that they can just do that at any time, which is why I try and be super limited on how I use my computer at work.


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