Smartphones? Or dumb-ass phones?

It’s twenty years since I got my first mobile phone.

It was a reaction to the fact that the publications I was writing for at the time needed to speak to me and to the fact that the student flat I was living in at the time didn’t have a phone, even though I was one of those helping to look after a residence hall and had a couple of on-call shifts every week.

So I got a half-brick size mobile phone and became the first student in either the Media or Business School to have such a gizmo (I was probably the only Media & Business Studies student in the UK who had a couple of national magazine columns at the time as well, but that’s another story…).

There were several smaller phones that followed in the wake of the half-brick between 1995 and 2010 of course, but then I made the decision to not have a phone and guess what? I didn’t miss it at all.

That changed with getting a new day job of course and then I noticed that most of my work colleagues (and Caroline’s sons and her daughter) were all using smartphones. So I ditched my pay as you go talk and text phone and upgraded to a smartphone…

Which I got rid of back in April 2015 and went back to a talk and text phone.

Well almost. There is internet and email capability on the new phone, but it’s not an Android phone and I don’t actually use the internet and email capability on it.

I’m not looking at it and swiping or stabbing it on a regular basis. I’m making calls on it or sending texts when I need to or using it as a watch and that’s about it.

Do I miss the smartphone? No, I’d rather have the dumb-ass phone as it works and only needs charging once a week or so.

Do I take the mickey out of smartphone users?

Sometimes, usually when there’s a group of people huddled around a table in a hostel, bar, cafe or restaurant and they’re all on their phones rather than communicating with others by talking to each other.

And then there’s those who text or do social media updates as they’re walking around a shop or wandering around a village, town or city. They’re so intent on what’s onscreen that they’re oblivious to the fact that there are other around them and that they’re either holding others up on the pavement or that they’re about to walk into a lamp post, sign post or another person.

The one that really took the biscuit was the lady in London who was so intent on her phone that she couldn’t even control the wheelie case that she was pulling along with her at the time.

Not only was she oblivious to everything else, she didn’t even hear words including ones that rhymed with clucking bell which were coming from a certain bloke behind her who was trying to get back to his hotel before the heavens opened once more!

There’s been a few conversations on forums recently about people taking smartphones with them on their travels to use for social media purposes, getting information from websites or to take  photos with the phone (with or without the use of a selfie/selfish stick). One guy even wanted to use a selfie stick to take photos out of train windows whilst train was moving – as if!

There’s also been a few comments about whether such phones are covered by travel insurance if they’re stolen or damaged. My annual travel policy has a limit to such cover, another reason why I got rid of the smartphone, don’t travel with a phone wherever possible and why I use a reasonably priced digital compact camera on my travels rather than a DSLR.

Think it won’t happen? We got into conversation with a lady at Lisbon airport a couple of weeks ago whilst waiting for our plane back to Liverpool. She’s been on Tram 28 around Lisbon and had had her smartphone stolen, even though she’s heard about all of the alleged problems with pickpockets on that tram and elsewhere in Lisbon. Didn’t ask what type of phone it was, but after seeing the prices of certain Apple and Android phones a few months ago, I suspect that it won’t have been a cheap one.

Which brings me back to a point I’ve made on forums a few times now.

I don’t take a phone with me unless it’s unavoidable (i.e. I’ve driven to the UK airport and don’t want to leave the phone in the car for a week or more whilst the car is parked up). If I need to know something about a town or city then I’ll either ask or use a paper guidebook (an item that is still relatively cheap and doesn’t need to be charged up in order to use).

And I’ll talk to people in a hotel, hostel or cafe rather than being someone who hides in a corner staring at a screen for hours on end…

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in both the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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