A Millennial Without A Smartphone

There are a lot of stereotypes out there about millennials. Some are dead on, others are way off. It’s assumed that we are narcissistic, educated, smart, innovative, selfish, tech-savvy, and that our smartphones are our lifelines. Raised during the growth of the Internet, and the digitization of nearly everything, it’s a pretty typical assumption that if one is a millennial, they will have a smartphone. And why wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t want a handheld device you can use to text, flirt, photograph, email, talk, and play games?

Well, I’ve got a newsflash for you: while a whopping 85% of American millennials do have a smartphone, there are a group of us, me included, that don’t have one. It is a personal annoyance of mine that everyone who has a smartphone, assumes that everyone else has a smartphone as well. But, nope. Some of us have likely tried out smartphones and decided to go back to their old phone, while, others, like myself, have never, ever had a smartphone. That’s right: I’ve gone through my college experience and early 20s without the luxury (because they are luxuries) of a smartphone.

I’m not saying smartphones aren’t awesome, and that I’m too cool for school for not having one. I’ve tried having an iPod (as a quasi-test to see what it would be like owning a smartphone), and I couldn’t stay off of it. I was constantly checking and refreshing my email, Facebook, Instagram, even if I had just five minutes before. Having that iPod told me quite clearly that I should stick with my flip-phone, because I didn’t need to be that connected all the time.

It’s strange to think that it is seen as highly unusual—and worth writing about—for a millennial in today’s society to have had never had a smartphone, but it’s the reality. So how have I lived out my life with just a flip-phone? It’s really quite simple, and in fact, I’m guessing people functioned basically the same way in the ’90s. I can only check my email on my computer. That’s right; emails from editors, co-workers, students, fellow writers, and updates from the “Daily Puppy” have to wait until I sign onto my laptop. I also have to look up directions from my house, and write them down—with pen and paper. That paper is precious to me, because while you are lost in downtown traffic and can pull out your phone to get rerouted, but if lose my directions, I’m stopping at dodgy gas stations asking for help.

Don’t get me wrong though, as there have been plenty of moments when I’ve wished that I could take a quality photo without taking my Nikon everywhere, or be able to look something up on Google to use as proof for a debate or argument. I also have gotten in the habit of *politely* hijacking my husband’s phone to take pictures with when we’re somewhere pretty.

Overall, I’m happy being smartphone-less. There are the obvious perks of having a flip-phone over a smartphone: they’re hella cheap; no one is going to want to steal them; they are super durable (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped my phone); plus, the battery life on flip-phones can last up to four days. And bonus: no one can send you creepy Tinder messages.

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How do I manage for work, you ask? True, having a smartphone probably makes working a bit easier. I get the perks: Your smartphone allows you to instantaneously answer work emails, Skype messages, or what have you. Personally, I know that I could be a bit more timely with my responses for my day job, and sometimes I even miss out on opportunities when an email is sent out late at night, and I don’t get on the computer until the next morning. But I get along perfectly well with my current phone, since I have my laptop. It probably helps that I don’t require a job that needs me to be available 24/7: I teach art, write, and sell photo prints, therefore, I don’t have a job that necessarily needs me to be answering emails immediately.

I also know that some people have difficulty leaving work at work, partly because their phones make them always available to co-workers/superiors, and partly because it is so easy to answer a quick email via smartphone. On the flipside, know there are those who do need to respond to work emails ASAP, and in that case smartphones are a gift from above. For me though, my flip-phone gives me all I need, without the danger of being constantly hooked to work.

Since I’ve gotten by this long without a smartphone, I’ll continue to live with my dumb phone, because it really gives me all I want out of a mobile: I can call people, and text. True, I may have to jot down directions, and actually print coupons in order to use them, but that’s alright with me.

Kristin U.
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