Getting a smartphone is a life-changing event for many millennials. For me, that day never came.
My primary tool of communication is an LG Extravert. Ever heard of it? No? Oh, that’s because it’s a flip phone. I walk around with my flip phone and a fifth-generation iPod Touch. Between those two devices, I am a functioning millennial.
Since I am still on my father’s Verizon cell phone plan — and he does not want to pay for data — having two phones has become my life. While the flip phone and iPod Touch life is a cheap way to go, it isn’t the most convenient.
Despite their inconvenience, my two phones create a detachment from social media that everyone could benefit from. I have all major forms of social media but my two phones greatly limit my ability to use them, and therefore force me to be more present in my daily life.
In high school, I hated having two phones. I was embarrassed because I was different, but today, my flip phone is just another quirk that makes me who I am. I love my flip phone because it is durable, reliable and cheap to replace. It is also a great conversation starter. People see I have two phones and almost always assume I am a drug dealer — which I am not.
My flip phone only allows me to send and receive calls and texts. I can’t access email, check any social media and I can barely take pictures. Through my iTouch, I can do all those things and take plenty of pictures, but only if I have access to the internet via Wi-Fi.
When I was younger, finding Wi-Fi was my mission. I constantly searched for it and asked people for their Wi-Fi passwords. My two phones were a source of anxiety because they felt like a crux that threatened my ability to stay connected. I was worried that during the three hours I didn’t have Wi-Fi, something incredible would be posted on social media and I didn’t want to be the last person to hear about it.
However, in my naivety and anxiety, I failed to realize no one ever posts anything that incredible.
Recently, I decided to stop asking my friends for their Wi-Fi passwords in an attempt to force myself to be more present. Being able to actively let go of social media and focus all my attention on the people around me helped me have more organic fun and become a better friend.
I realized when one person starts using their phone, it causes a chain reaction and everyone starts scrolling through their timelines and sending texts. My friends and I appreciate each other more without being glued to our phone screens, because the time we spend together is more meaningful.
I will admit, in my attempt to distance myself from my smart device, my communication skills have suffered. But my mental health and relationships have improved. I’m not focused on staying connected with the internet — I’m focused on staying connected with the people in front of me. My two phones are not a crux. They are a reminder to maintain a balance between staying connected, both online and in-person.