Nine days ago, my iPhone dropped in the toilet. I rarely keep it in the back pocket of my pants, and that's where it was at the fatal moment. It managed to stay in the pocket on the way down, but when I was pulling up my pants it slid out and plopped in the yellow toilet water. I took a deep breath, plunged my hand to the bottom of the bowl, and rescued it.
I was in crisis mode, so my next action is inexplicable, except for the fact that I'm a tech moron: I quickly ran it under fresh water from the sink. Yes, I soaked it more. But, reality is, it was already saturated. My motive was to guard its dignity, I didn't want it forever baptized with urine. Then I dried it off as thoroughly as possible and left it to air dry / drain. My friends advised me to bury it in a bowl of rice, which I did for an extended amount of time, in and out of days and almost over a week.*
Outcome: the phone is alive, but handicapped. It lost cellular ability, as you can see from the photo below. It's forever Searching... for a cellular network. It connects to WiFi and works as a mini-computer, but it can't place phone calls and can't do anything without wireless internet. Essentially, it's no longer mobile, and it's no longer a phone.
We were two weeks shy of our 4-year anniversary, we'd had a great run together. It was my first and only smartphone. I haven't yet replaced it because I've been so pleasantly surprised by how much I'm enjoying its absence; I feel free. I've spent 10 days going about life without a smartphone accompanying me everywhere I go, and it's been wonderful. I've felt relaxed, present, at peace. Therefore, I've also spent the past 10 days deliberating over what to do next. It's remarkable how those little devices that are intended to serve us can end up enslaving us.
Before moving on to a glistening new smartphone that's faster and waterproof and takes much better photos and will be outdated in less than 3 years, I'm pausing to conduct an experiment. I'm going to try life with a flip phone. Yes, you read that right, a dumbphone. When I popped into the AT&T store to learn how to make the transition, the salesman looked at me like I 'd lost my marbles. He disappeared into the stockroom to dig up a flip phone (took him awhile). When he returned, he showed me two options, one for $50 and the other, $60. He was embarrassed and advised me to buy one at Target for $20. Then he slipped me a SIM card the proper size for a flip phone and gave me the number to call to make the transition official. Adrenaline rushed through my veins, I felt eager to detox my body of this drug called connectivity.
Right after finishing this article, I'm off to pick up my new dumbphone. I was able to use my favorite website, Nextdoor, to find one from a neighbor, still boxed up, for $10. I plan to write regular updates and reflections on the experiment, so follow along. Place your bets now: smartphone or dumbphone, that is the question.
*reference to Where the Wild Things Are, one of my favorite children's books.