Life with a flip phone in the 21st century

My niece Tina, a senior in high school, realized she was addicted to social media. To break the habit, she began by trading her iPhone for a “slower, dumber flip phone.” After a few months, she wrote about her experiences for the school newspaper. Her insights beam wisdom like a lighthouse sweeping away the darkness. Here is Tina’s story…

Up until a few months ago, social media had always been a big part of my life. I was obsessed. I would go on Instagram everyday, I had more than ten snapchat streaks at a time, and I would take pictures purely to post on my Instagram spam account. I was among the majority of people my age who look at their phones more than each other and count texting as a quality form of communication. As millennials, we are born into a world where a person’s social media accounts are judged more than the content of their minds.

iPhone, social media

This summer, I tried to break the status quo and go off of social media. To venture even further into a world before the internet, I decided to trade my fancy iphone, for a slower, dumber flip phone.

I quickly realized how spoiled I was for being able to instantly get directions to wherever I needed to go. I always thought of myself as someone who had a good sense of direction so I didn’t think it would be an issue, but it was. Within the first day of not having a smart phone, I asked countless people for directions to places I assumed I would be able to find on my own. I had been completely reliant on Google Maps. The first thing I learned from having a flip phone was how to read someone’s address and figure out how to get there using only my knowledge of the city. Yes, sometimes it took a few minutes longer, but I have never felt so self-sufficient.

Without anything to stimulate me, I had to do something I always thought only crazy people could do, just sit.

Aside from the trivial issues like not having Google Maps, Spotify or a decent camera, the biggest struggle was moments of waiting, the few minutes before getting picked up by a friend, or while waiting for something that’s only a few minutes away. Without anything to stimulate me, I had to do something I always thought only crazy people could do, just sit. I started noticing things about the places I spent most of my time that I never noticed before. I watched leaves fall off the trees and observed as bees floated from flower to flower. There were so many beautiful things I had never taken the time to pay attention to because my eyes were so preoccupied with the new snapchat filters or whatever meme was trending on Twitter. I had missed out on a large part of the real world because I was so heavily invested in the fabricated world of social media.

I found the strength in myself to match everyone’s kind comments with the words of self-love that so many people my age crave, and believe they will find in apps like Instagram.

When it comes to Instagram, it can feel good to have someone comment, “so cute” or “*heart emoji,” but this summer, I learned that some relationships now are only as significant as taking a second to comment and like someone’s instagram picture. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but after going months without the comforting chatter of kindness coming from the comments section and the reassuring hum of likes that cushioned my ego, I realized I didn’t need it. I no longer sought the approval of other people. I didn’t derive my sense of beauty and joy from the mindless comments of other people. I found the strength in myself to match everyone’s kind comments with the words of self-love that so many people my age crave, and believe they will find in apps like Instagram.

I knew going without a smartphone wasn’t just a test I wanted for a summer…

Toward the end of the summer, when I would tell people about my flip phone, their responses changed from dismay to some sort of admiration, as if I was doing something groundbreaking that they always had wanted to try. The first text my new phone ever received was from my uncle, who was my sole ally during hours of bombardment and ridicule from family members after they heard about my new phone. “I think it is great that you are getting away from your phone,” he said. “I wish more people would/could do this.” After he sent this to me, I knew going without a smartphone wasn’t just a test I wanted for a summer, it was the best gift I’ve ever given myself, and it only cost $15 and the Instagram account I ultimately didn’t want anyway.

Tina Prekaski is a senior at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington and originally wrote this article for The Roosevelt News.

This entry was posted in Essays and inspirations, Making life better, Our world and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Life with a flip phone in the 21st century

  1. Velda says:

    Great article! Bravo Tina! I’d do that but for the calendar I depend on. Carry on! ❤️ Velda in California

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Kate Alexander says:

    YAY ! Excellent post !!! Way to go Tina nothing beats a face to face conversation and when the world seems to go awry, look around at rain on a puddle or bees on flowers and you have given yourself a much deserved 5 minute vacation

  3. Sharon says:

    Kudos to your niece Tina! What a terrific young lady to be proud of, Marion. Now, if there’s an article that should really go viral, this is the one. Maybe she’ll start a new fad!

  4. Colleen says:

    She is free! Free at last to live her life. Don’t waste a minute of it–Go live!

  5. Ren says:

    Thank you for sharing the thoughtful, well written article by your niece. As an older person the article gives me hope for brilliant young people willing to break away from the socially accepted behavior and experiment with a less ego driven sub set. Bravo!

    • marionowen says:

      It gives me oodles of hope, too, Ren. It also reminds me not to get sucked into negative news and headlines. Love conquers all; to make a difference is to be an example to all and Tina is a superb example of an example! Love to you!

  6. Georgia Bennett says:

    Awesome! Your niece has a great future ahead of her!

    • marionowen says:

      I think she’ll be a positive influence throughout her life, having boldly gone where not many millenniums have gone before! Thanks for your comment Georgia. Hugs to you!

  7. Rachel Scott says:

    Hello there! I knew I wanted to thank you after reading your story/article. How incredibly mature and brave of you. Going against the status quo,for the greater good, is almost never heard of “these days”.
    So very sad, watching the addiction to technology consume all. With technology (phones, social media) as societies #1 drug of choice comes that false sense of reality and self love. When opinions are shared, the most common reaction I get is a shrug of the shoulder coupled with thoughtless comments like “oh well, it’s just he way the world is now”. BLAH!!
    Anyhow, your story was exactly what I needed. so I thank you for sharing in your quest.
    -What a wonderfuly empowering gift. Very inspiring and beautifully written. You go lady!!!!
    Thank you for sharing, and more importantly for letting us all in on what you gained after letting go. Good job! You have a gift so keep sharing and Stay humble 😊
    Rachel Scott
    Proud to be one of the few encouraging those to stop and smell the roses, grateful for the journey and Mother of 5.

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