Thursday, April 28, 2011

Forget Verizon vs. AT&T: Why I Won't Get a Smartphone

Over the 2.5 year course of my blogging career, a lot of people have asked about about how I handle cell phone costs, so I'm here to deliver an answer!
This is my cell phone.

I think it cost $20 (it might have even been free after a rebate), and the only service it has is pre-paid minutes from T-Mobile.
My phone doesn't text or have Internet. It doesn't take pictures (I have a few other devices that take care of that pretty well!) or video. It doesn't have a touch screen. I don't even think it has any games on it.
Know what else my phone doesn't have?
A contract.
A monthly bill.
But you know what it does have?
The ability to take and receive calls.
Which is, after all, what a phone is supposed to do.
I know this sort of cell phone plan wouldn't work for a lot of people, but for me, it does. I hardly ever use my cell phone, so my pre-paid minutes last me forever. I keep mine turned off most of the time and only turn it on when I need to use it (like when I am out and Mr. FG is at home with the kids and I need to ask him a question).
I'm home most of the time, so my home phone is available to me, and if I'm out and about, I figure that it is not the end of the world if someone has to wait a few hours to get a hold of me. People used to manage with nothing but a home phone (and before that, with no phone!), so I figure that I do not need to be available at the touch of a button all the time.
My cell phone costs me less than $100/year in prepaid minutes, so I'm paying about $8/month for my cell phone. This is definitely cheaper than any cell phone contract I could ever hope to have.
But frugality is not the only reason I have resisted the upgrade to a smartphone.
No, the main reason I don't want a smartphone is that I don't think I could handle the temptation. I have enough trouble resisting the call of the computer and the laptop, and if I had the Internet available to me at all times, I think I would use it way too much.
I don't want to become one of those people who is attached at the hip to their phone.
I don't want to be walking down the sidewalk, texting away.
I don't want to be sitting at the dinner table, checking my email.
I don't want to be at the park with my kids, reading my Facebook feed.
I don't want to be one of those people who is busy texting while you're trying to talk to me in person (I hate that so much!).
I don't want to be one of those people who is always answering the phone or glancing at the phone in the midst of a real-life conversation.
I don't want to be insanely engaged with people through my phone, but disengaged with people in real life.
When I am not doing a computer-related task, I want to be present, not just in body, but in mind too. And I don't think I'd have the self-control to do that if I had a SmartPhone.
Because of that, even if I could get rid of my home phone and save money by just having a cell phone (that's not the case at this point in time), I don't think I would. I'm pretty sure that my quality of life would suffer instead of being improved, and I'm very certain that my mothering and wifing would take a hit.
That's how I do (and don't do) cell phones. I know that cell phones and SmartPhones are helpful or even necessary for some people, and I know that some people do use them responsibly, but I know myself well enough to know that a fancy-schmancy cell phone is not a wise choice for me.
What about you? Can you handle a SmartPhone responsibly, without letting it take over your life?


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