Would you trade you smart phone for a trip overseas?

I know . . . it’s crazy.  Imagining a life without your smart phone probably feels like imagining the beach without sand.  It’s tough, and weird . . . and WHY?

But what if I threw in a trip to Italy?

You could check out the birthplace of pizza in Naples, get a makeover in Milan, or visit the Pope in Vatican City.  Ancient cultures not your thing?  How about an all-inclusive trip to the Bahamas, where the natives are delightful and the beaches are white?

Still attached to your smart phone?

I see I’m going to have a dig a bit deeper to pry that addictive little device out of your hands. Allow me to share a personal experience that may be leading me back to the unthinkable . . . THE BASIC FLIP PHONE!

This story starts in church.  I was listening to the pastor discuss ways to achieve financial freedom in 2017. As he reminded me to run away from debt as if it were the plague, I began to feel uncomfortable, which is a good sign that the message was taking root.  Towards the end of the message, he touched a point that stayed with me as I struggled to determine its best application: “reduce your set monthly expenses.”

Driving home, I remained deep in thought.  I don’t consider myself to be an extravagant spender.  I rarely buy new clothes and purge regularly through my online closet on Poshmark https://poshmark.com/closet/kbr230.  I’ve adopted a bit of a minimalist attitude. Consequently, I had trouble thinking of additional ways to further cut my expenses without impacting my quality of life in a negative way.  

And then a light bulb went off!

Get rid of your iPhone.

It made perfect sense for so many reasons.  I became excited as I felt like I was discovering a way to beat the system and “live above the influence.”

I haven’t fully committed to the idea. But while I’m deciding, here are just a few reasons pushing me towards this unpopular position.

  1. Financial savings = more travel  

I went to Verizon the day after church and inquired about the difference in price between my current iPhone and a basic phone.  By converting to a basic phone (some of which have internet access and Bluetooth capability) with unlimited talk and text, I would save about $70/month or $840/year.  I could still communicate as much as I need to, but save on fees like data, expensive phone leases, and line charges. My car already has navigation, so I really wouldn’t be missing much.

What could one do with an extra $840/year?  I would travel more. I’ve seen all inclusive trips to destinations like the Caribbean and Europe for under $1000 through sites like Groupon and Living Social. I’d much rather spend my money (and time) there, versus on my phone looking at Facebook ads.

  1. More control.  

Have you ever misplaced your smart phone or accidently left it at home?  You probably felt quite unhinged for the day, like you were missing a necessary body part. How crazy is it that within the past ten years, we’ve become so dependent on these tiny objects.  They’ve become a bit of a necessity.  We can’t leave home without them.  We can barely make it through a meal without them!  

The truth is that smart phones are not a necessity . . . not even close.  

Yes, one can argue that cellular phones provide us with quick and efficient communication.  They can potentially be the difference between a fatal car accident vs. life saving emergency care.  However, the buck stops there.  

While cell phones have become a necessity, they need not be smart.

I can be a rebel in my own little way.  The idea of anything controlling me or requiring my dependence is a major turn off.  I despise the idea of a tech company playing off of consumerism and leading me to think that I NEED their latest and greatest device when in actuality, my current device is just fine and is not a necessity to begin with. I prefer to be in control of how I spend my money and my time.  Dependence on an electronic device is not my pick.

  1. Stronger social engagement.  

We’ve all seen it. You know, the family of four in the adjacent booth waiting for dinner or the couple standing behind us in line. Even though they’ve carved out time to be together, they’re sitting in silence.  Every last one of them is scrolling through their phones. This dynamic doesn’t happen with the basic phone. Why you ask? It’s a matter of biology.

There’s a reason you can seem to stop checking your email.

Each time we receive a message or read a positive comment on our latest Facebook post, our brains release a tiny amount of dopamine, the feel good hormone.  Dopamine allows us to experience pleasure. It’s also associated with motivation and the prompting to search for what we want.  Consequently, the more our brains associate social media with pleasure, the more we are chemically driven to continue searching for that pleasure.  It creates a cycle of pleasure seeking that is hard to break.  Before long, we are more engaged in the virtual world than the real world.

  1. Higher Intelligence.  

Contrary to their name, smart phones may in fact be making us dumber.  Educators will tell you that the average child reads very differently today than in previous years. Due to smart phones, tablets, and the ability to scroll past text that does not interest us, we are learning to scan information, rather than read through for actual comprehension.

So, what does that mean for your how you attain and retain information? Well, it means that your attention span is much shorter.

A shorter attention span has many implications.  Not only will we have a more difficult time focusing for lengthier reading, but we may also have a difficult time with tasks like waiting, delaying gratification and sustaining attention for auditory learning.

The real problem

From decreased productivity and damaging blue light, to FaceBook envy and tech neck, I could really go on for days about why you should consider giving your smart phone a rest. But please don’t misunderstand me; the problem isn’t with the technology itself.  The problem lies in our DEPENDANCE on the technology.  

If you want to be the master of your domain and refuse to be ruled by a 5 inch device, consider joining me on a “Back to Basic Challenge” and turn in your smart phone for a while.  Comment below if you’re interested in taking this challenge to the next level.
Written By: Kaity Rodriguez, MSW, LCSW

Kaity Rodriguez is a psychotherapist, coach, and empowerment speaker hailing from Clifton, NJ.  She specializes in girl’s and women’s issues and has spent several years working with youth and family-related programs.  As a licensed clinical social worker, she has served as an individual and group counselor to youth and women with clinical diagnoses ranging from depression and anxiety, to ADHD and eating disorders. Her most recent project, http://www.kaityrodriguez.com, educates women on increasing self-esteem and self-confidence in order to live their best lives.  

Kaity attended the University of South Carolina where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in only 3 ½ years.  She went on to earn her graduate degree from New York University on scholarship.  Again, she graduated Magna Cum Laude, this time with a Master’s Degree in Social Work.  

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