Minnich: So long to a bad habit and constant interruptions — good riddance, smart phone

After a long battle against dark forces, I have rid myself of a habit that had negatively affected my life.

I got to the point where I didn’t own the habit; the habit owned me. I was compelled to give in to it first thing in the morning, and all day long I would feel the tug to turn my attention to it, as if it were a needy child following me around tugging on my sleeve and whining, “Pay attention to me, look at me, hold me.” It diverted my attention away from friends and led me to making excuses for rude behavior.


It was something out of control and with a mind of its own. Something that I craved but could not trust, tried to use for good but left me feeling used instead.

It was not easy, and in spite of having good people around me, this was something I had to do on my own. It was hard to do in part because people I care about in turn are enablers; they unwittingly encouraged me to delve deeper into behaviors that were detrimental to my peace of mind and self-esteem.

They urged me to give in to the mysteries that drew me in, and fed me constant encouragement to respond to them, join them on the terms set forth by total surrender to the same world that seems so seductive that they sometimes all but disappear into it.

Yes, it was difficult, but I turned my back on the siren call, the buzz and flashing lights, the constant flirting with the idea of instant connection and ego-stoking qualities of my smart phone. I put it behind me and moved forward with my life; I returned to a good old-fashioned flip phone.

Media got bigger and faster and those who navigate it — story-tellers and users — would see more and understand less, perhaps, and be diminished by the inhuman hush of being alone in our pursuits.

My new old-fashioned phone allows me to make and receive calls. If I must, I can take a photo and start a gallery, set a stopwatch or set an alarm with a clock, use a calculator (which is simple enough to actually use, unlike the one on the old smarty-pants phone), and maintain a calendar. But I defy anyone to find anything in the calendar on their smart phone any faster than I can enter or retrieve info from my paper pocket book calendar.

Now I can ignore emails, ads, notices about updates, offers to upgrade my present mystery gadget for a more complicated one which I will never learn how to use, forms from doctors’ offices who want me to spend an hour of on-line time filling out a pre-registration on a screen too small to read, rewards points, subscriptions, new apps, hackers wanting my identity so they can send me a bag of pretzels and all the other hoopla in the world marketplace.

I can go a whole day without being interrupted by a phone call I don’t want to get in the first place. What a great idea! It should catch on.

My new phone is a lot like the first one I bought because it was small and easy to use, and you could carry it in a pocket.

Somewhere along the way they morphed into what we call smart phones, offering games and videos and breaking news alerts and music and a lot of other things Thoreau didn’t muse about at Walden Pond. Smarter than the rubes who got suckered into spending $1,000 every year or so for a newer model.

I’m the dummy who just got well by switching to a $30 phone that costs $25 a month to use to make and take calls.