why i’m sticking with my dumbphone

Not a week goes by that my spouse and I don’t get mocked for at least one of the following:

  1. having a land line
  2. not texting
  3. not having a smartphone

We have plenty of reasons for each. Our house gets terrible cell phone reception, so we need a land line to phone from home. Neither of us likes to text, so we’ve never signed up for a plan. And even though we’re years (yes, years) “overdue” for upgraded cell phones according to our contract, we don’t see the need to get shiny new gadgets while ours still work.

Old-fashioned? Maybe. (Though the New York Times says we’re not alone in clinging to our retro dumbphones.)

But the deeper truth? I can’t let myself get a smartphone.

Do I think they’re slick? Certainly. Handy? Definitely. But I refuse to bring one into this house. Despite my desire for an iPhone, I have to draw the line.

Because boundaries between work and family are already blurred when I work from home.

Because I already struggle with being present to my kids, given all the distractions around me.

Because when I see something like this, it hits a little too close to home:

I spent yesterday at a Social Phonics training in social media with emergent church leaders Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. At the end of the day, they shared a final list of tips for diving into the social media world.

Get a smartphone flashed on their slick Powerpoint. “Is there anyone we still need to convince to get one of these?” Doug asked with a bemused smile, waving his phone in the air.

My hand floated up.

Both men turned with a look of surprise to the youngest person in the room. They launched into a litany of reasons to get a smartphone: it’s the future of the Internet, it’s the way people communicate today, it’s going to replace laptops in just a few years.

I listened to their logic. I smiled graciously. But all I could think about were my two boys.

They need me to look at them more, not my phone. They need me to listen to them more closely, not my email. And while I can’t be present to them 24/7, I want to show them the power of connecting by disconnecting.

Even though I struggle, it’s a spiritual practice for parenting that I want to cultivate: presence. When my day is already full of email and work, laptop and phone calls, I don’t want to add another constant distractor to the mix. Saying no to smartphones is my act of resistance.

I’m digging in my feet as long as I can, for them. While I embrace email, blogging and social media as ways to connect with people I love, I also have little people right in front of me who need to connect with me even more. I want to be present to them as best I can when they’re still so small.

So for now, this mama is sticking with a decidedly dumbphone. Which is why I never got your text.

(But you can always try our land line!)