Is It Dumb to Have a Smartphone?


By Troy Headrick

I struggled coming up with a title for this one.  I almost called it “My Love/Hate Relationship with My Smartphone.”

Okay, so I own a Samsung Galaxy Note5.  I know.  I know.  It’s certainly not the latest and coolest model.  But then again, I’m not necessarily the coolest guy either.  Almost nothing that I own is the latest version of anything.  In fact, I’m not exactly what you’d call a “high-end” fellow.  I’m more the sort who snoops around at resell shops and flea markets.

I was raised by a brilliant but eccentric father.  He didn’t believe in telephones.  So we didn’t have one in our house for a long time.  Looking back on that period in my life, I can’t see any sort of way that not owning a phone had any detrimental effect on my life.

I remember what life was like at that time in American history.  It seemed quieter, calmer, more serene.  People could, it certainly seems, be alone with their thoughts.  In fact, it seems that it might have actually been easier to have thoughts in that day and age.  It appears perfectly obvious that to have thoughts one would need to have a certain quietness of mind.  Thoughts are a bit like plants.  They need the proper environment to flourish.  The quiet mind is such an environment.

For many years, I resisted buying a telephone.  This was probably a direct result of the values inculcated by my father.  Then, about four years ago, I bought the above-mentioned Samsung.

This device has certainly allowed me to connect with the world, but I think people are generally mostly incapable of doing things in moderation.  Human beings—of course, it’s hard to generalize—are naturally extremists.  They don’t do most things half-assed.

I’m trying to tell you in a roundabout way that I am sort of addicted to my telephone.  As an educator–as someone who stands up in front of lots of young adults—I know that I am not alone in my addiction.  I’ve taught classes where students spent more time looking at their little screens than they did looking at my little face.  This makes me wonder if we really see each other anymore.  Do you think it’s possible that we’ve mostly become invisible to one another?

And do we hear each other?  Do we know how to formulate well thought out sentences?  I certainly know how to ask my telephone where I might find such and such a place by telling it the address I’m looking for.  When it replies, though, it doesn’t ask me any questions like, “Why have you decided to go to this location rather than stay at home?”  Such a question would turn me back on myself.  It might even make me reconsider.  By the way, as you’ve probably already gathered, my Samsung is a pretty poor conversationalist.

I guess I’m just writing whatever comes to mind here.  But there does seem to be a method to my madness.  In what way am I being changed by my telephone and other technological devices?  What ways are these things changing the world we live in?  Are we happier now than we used to be when the world was very small and everything seemed so far away and interesting?

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found at Thinker Boy:  Blog & Art.


29 thoughts on “Is It Dumb to Have a Smartphone?

  1. Well, we can’t go against the progress. It supposed to be like that. Phones are addictive and they are exciting, for some people even more that real life unfortunately. But yeah, everywhere is always a balance. As you may notice it is also era of spiritual awakening. More people looking into the sky, more people reading the books, more of them waking up every day. I don’t say that I don’t love my phone but compare to my life before when I didn’t have it and my parents had no idea where I am now it is really great progress. At least we can track our kids and dive into our stupid Matching 3 games to stop thinking ha? 😊😊😊

    1. I certainly like your optimism and I hope we are living in an “era of spiritual awakening.” When I see the rise of racism and xenophobia and such worldwide, I have to wonder. At any rate, thanks for the comment!

      1. Racism is a baby of religious dogmas, the more religion fight agains each other the more it producing racism as well as xenophobia. Well, I believe there are more good than bad. It always will be balance.

    1. Thanks, Sagar. I’m glad you liked it. Yes, I wrote this piece in about 30 minutes. It just came out really fast and easily. By the way, you don’t happen to live in the Middle East, do you? I lived in that region for fifteen years and really loved it.

  2. I was home schooled, was the only child, with a father who did not believe in any form of technology (as smart as he was). So I grew up not being used to technology; heck, I didn’t own a phone until 21. I do think that smartphone are helpful these days and easier to grab then a book, but I think we should be able to control our “obsession”. I find it easier when I schedule “phone time” into my day. Keeping myself occupied with other things, like reading, writing and drawing, then I don’t feel so compulsive to check my phone often.

    1. Thanks for the interesting comment. Watching TV and gazing at one’s phone are very similar kinds of activities. Actually, it’s interesting that I used the word “activity” because these pursuits leave the “doer” feeling very passive–as if one had been “acted upon” rather than having acted on anything.

  3. I am no techie, but my smartphone is useful. it keeps me safe and I can use instagram. I recently upgraded after many years so that I could keep an eye on my bank account.

    1. Don’t get me wrong. Even though I sounded very critical in my blog, I certainly wouldn’t give up my phone if I had the chance. I guess I just wanted to think about how such technology acts upon us, changes us. We certainly need to be aware of how technology “creates” us as we create it. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Yes it has changed us in many ways, like now we rely on our smartphones to remember contacts and various other things. Also we don’t apply our intelligence to solve a particular problem, we just google it.
    There are both good and bad ways in which smartphones have impacted our life.
    As you said, it is important to keep your phone down and look at the world.. We have to keep the balance

    1. Thanks for the comment. And we have to look at each other too. I am always amazed to see people sitting together–at the same table at a restaurant for example–and yet each person is staring at his or her small screen rather than interacting with the people they are “with.” The whole world is right in front of us but we don’t see it because we’re so distracted.

  5. I can say, without any fear, that I don’t use even 1/8 of the features of my phone, and rarely download apps. The apps I do use are things like weather, or the flashlight – or the camera. I really appreciate NOT having to haul a clunky camera around all the time. There are phone numbers I know by heart, addresses that are ingrained into my brain, and I doubt that will change.
    But – having said that, it is rare for the turn by turn instructions not to screw up in some way – and sometimes it’s really painful NOT to get the replies from people I’d like to hear from. It was a lot easier to say “Ah, it got lost in the mail, or they lost my number” back then. I try not to get too obsessed with it all – it’s not my identity. I don’t need a social media “presence” to exist – and I think that’s where a lot of people get lost in their handheld devices.

    1. It’s quite ironic that as I was reading your comment my phone was “telling” me–like it can speak!–that I had mostly used up all its storage space. Our phones (like our lives) are as cluttered as they can be! They are literally beseeching us to SIMPLIFY! Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

  6. I have a Samsung note 5 too.
    I do a lot of my blog reading , commenting and sometimes even my writing.
    I think smart phone dependence is more a sign of the times than addiction on our part.

    1. Hi. I’m sorry that I’ve just seen your comment. Had I seen it before now, I certainly would have responded. Both being owners of an older model phone, I guess we’re both behind the times a bit. I’ve actually known people who couldn’t put their phones down for more than a minute or two, a habit which suggests an unnatural attachment. (Actually, I just learned this interesting Danish word–hygge–which suggests that owning a mobile phone is detrimental to one’s well-being, but they mean it in a slightly different way than what I’ve proposed.) (I really suggest that you look up hygge because it sheds light on the subject you and I are discussing.) Thanks very much for reading my article and commenting!

      On hygge:

      1. Thank you for that detailed reply.

        The world of the internet moves so fast that sometimes one just cannot keep up.
        Sometimes it’s owing to people interacting across different time zones.
        And sometimes it’s just life happening.
        I will definitely look into hygge and get back to you although it might take a while.
        I have come across this word before but had no idea what it meant .

  7. Ah ! It’s a relief to hear “not owning a phone had no detrimental effects” – in fact, how could ever our ancestors survive without phones ? So, surely it IS possible against the craziness of feeling obligatory to be available to an inanimate phone 24X7. It’s not video game after all. ☺ 😊

    1. I find myself becoming increasingly frazzled with all the demands of modern life. I am doing a little soul searching and strategizing about ways to simplify my life. Of course, the telephone plays into that feeling of being pulled in a million directions and always needing to my eyes trained on its screen. Thanks for commenting!

      1. As for strategizing, I prefer minimalism – reducing living standards to its necessities so that I can focus on desired stuff where I may enhance the standards as required.

      2. Minimalism! Absolutely! The old saying “Keep it simple!” is a very wise one! I’m taking steps to get back to that now. I wish us luck in our endeavors.

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