FORSAKE YOUR SMARTPHONE
ESQUIRE’S CHARLIE TEASDALE SPENDS FOUR DAYS (FOUR DAYS!) WITHOUT HIS SMARTPHONE
Is the instant gratification we get from phones on the way out? It isn’t, obviously; Apple, Google and Samsung have taken over society and we will be forever enslaved. But some young people (16–24) are using smartphones slightly less now than a year ago (six minutes a day less), so maybe there’s dissention in the ranks; maybe the millennials are revolting.
Inspired by this micro-fuck-you to Silicon Valley, I ditched my iPhone for Nokia’s new 3310, an update of the iconic, 126m-selling 2000 model, released earlier this year. It offers a month of battery life, comes in four colours, it has Snake, and that’s pretty much it. No email, no apps, no social media. I got it in yellow.
Day one, a Thursday, was peppered with astonished looks and scathing remarks. “What the hell is that?!” was the common inquiry. People (sheeple!) couldn’t understand why I didn’t have a smartphone, but were overjoyed to hear it had Snake. At dinner, the waiter pointed at the phone on the table and said, “That’s cute, is it vintage?” I still don’t really know what he meant. Later, I tried to order a cab, and couldn’t, so got the tube.
Friday, a day off, was a real test. No way of checking the weather outlook, seeing when the bus would come, or to change my fantasy football team. I would just have to risk it, like people have been doing for millennia. I considered drawing up a list of queries and calling 118, — but despite knowing how much it would have meant to those two creepy gymnast guys, I didn’t.
The day went well. I carried a light coat in case it rained, consulted the timetable and route at the bus stop and kept Sergio Agüero as my captain. Nothing bad happened, and if a need for 4G or Instagram arose, I just did something else. That evening at a garage night at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, I used the Nokia’s Dictaphone function to record 34 seconds of the Sweet Female Attitude banger “Flowers”. Is there anything more pure, joyous and 2001 than that?
Because all correspondence is now done over social media and messaging apps, I received just three calls and two texts all weekend. I did nearly miss the theatre on Sunday night because my friend with the tickets had WhatsApp’d a few times to see if I was still keen. The last message asked if I was dead. I was touched, but it took him another five hours to call. Perhaps best about the Nokia
is the schadenfreude, because you force people to call you, and it must be ghastly.
I considered sticking with the 3310 for the rest of my life. Aside from the fact the battery would probably hold out, it would mean I could detach from many scourges of modern society: the insecurity of social media, the pull of after-hours email, the gnarled claw of Candy Crush. But the lesson here is not that technology is bad or life was better before, it’s simply to use your smartphone a bit less. Just make sure your friends and family know you’re not dead.
Nokia 3310, £50; nokia.com