In honor of the dumb phone, a rare sanity saving gadget


I miss the phone. No not That record in my pocket which we call the smartphone.

Yes, that device can act like a telephone. But it also doubles as a portable laptop, camera, alarm, console, TV, wallet and so many other things – I’m not sure what it is. But one thing’s for sure: just calling an iPhone a “phone” has never felt quite right.

It’s easy to lose sight of just how vast a smartphone’s capabilities are. Hidden in our pockets is a powerful machine that really seems to be able to do anything, anywhere, all at once. There’s a reason why the courts recently limited FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried to just a dumb phone. A smartphone is a powerful tool, especially in the hands of a math nerd who lost billions of other people’s money overnight.

And while my smartphone has greatly improved my life – and I have no intention of getting rid of it – it has also made some things worse. Namely my brain. With the smartphone, we can easily check things constantly and instantly, be it the news or our loved ones, but at the expense of our attention span, mental health, and relationships. Hell, recently I realized that I barely remember most of the concerts I’ve been to, and why? I was too busy making hundreds of videos and sharing them on Instagram with my phone. Funnily enough, I didn’t even watch the videos after that and only did when I had to delete them to free up storage space.

That’s why I want the cheap dumb phone to make a comeback, and I’m so excited it’s about to possibly do so if more Gen Z’ers are increasingly embracing it. I need a break, and as long as my iPhone is this good, I don’t think I’m going to give it to myself anytime soon. I need a phone that, while I’m waiting in line to fuel my caffeine addiction, has no apps so I can’t pull it out and distract myself with the news or FOMO-inducing vacation photos. A phone, ideally without a camera too, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the present moment with my little nephew as he flashes one of his first big smiles at me.

I want it to be a thing too. Another common thing, so I don’t feel like a freak when I draw attention by pulling out a stupid phone that looks like it’s from the early 2000s, which actually happened. I also want it to be affordable so everyone can have one, not a few hundred dollars like many popular dumb phones like the Light Phone currently cost.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Why don’t you just put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’?” I have. Several times. On good days when my willpower is high, it sometimes helps. But I’m only human, too smartphones And apps are designed to be addictive. On those days when I’m already feeling down or exhausted, the temptation to pull out my smartphone for a quick and easy dopamine rush becomes too great. I know I’m not alone.

We’ve previously suggested bringing back dumb phones, back in the days when Trump ran the country through Twitter, testing our collective nerves with each new tweet. The need to log out was great, and now it feels even greater.

Since then, we have faced a global pandemic, while the US witnessed a literal coup attempt. Russia invaded Ukraine cost more than 200,000 people their lives, destabilized the region and contributed to major food shortages. As that conflict continues to unfold, we’ve also recently had our — what? — millionth major financial crisis in 15 years? Every other week we live in unprecedented times, and it’s no wonder diagnoses of depression are on the rise.

At the same time, technology is only getting better — and even more distracting. There are even more addictive apps and more capable smartphones and AI tools to polish our lives. And as social media companies continue to add more and more distracting features, research is increasingly showing the negative impact this is all having on young people’s mental health and adults directly. It’s no wonder: when you read the news you sometimes feel like the world is about to end, but somehow Instagram and LinkedIn feeds make it feel like everyone is doing it every day and all the time. wins in life. And they do it all while also looking like supermodels, thanks to incredibly good AI filters.

And that’s why I – no, we – need the dumb phone to make a comeback. We need something to temporarily disconnect from a fake digital world so we can be more connected to the real world. I used to be able to leave the house to unplug, but now I can never do that with my smartphone in my pocket and technology everywhere. We can’t hit the world with a pause button, but we can force it to log out by using a dumb phone instead of a smart one.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want smartphones to go anywhere, nor do I want them to stop getting better. I rather imagine a world where we have our smartphones, but it’s also normal to have cheap dumb phones to use when you’re away from home, for example, or just when you need a break. Just a basic phone that we can all text and call. No cameras, no apps, no internet, nothing like that. Just a phone – not another constant distraction.