Don't Use a Smartphone

Back in 2018 I wrote an article explaining why I went back to using webOS. It talked about how my iPhone broke and I finally had the opportunity to use a Palm/HP device. This experience only lasted a year due to some carrier issues but it changed my take on cell phones entirely. Since the phone was so old, only a few things worked - mostly thanks to the awesome community. This left me with a sort of semi-smart phone. It didn't have social media but I could use the web a bit and get my email. Most importantly not having tons of apps and features really made me "wake up" to the reality of things: People are being controlled.

I have always loved phones and small technology. Maybe it was because I spend so much time playing GameBoy? My love only got deeper and deeper around 2007-2010 when all these super cool feature phones were coming out. Some of them flipped horizontally and vertically, others slide up portrait-style, and one even slide in a circular motion. Then around 2009 or so the smartphone became a thing! It was so cool that I would do anything to get one. I spend hours and hours watching videos on phones such as the Palm Pre Plus, Microsoft Kin, and early android phones like the Motorola Droid 3. There was so much uniqueness in each one of these devices that picking one was basically impossible!

As time went on the market began to settle…. Palm was destroyed by HP, Microsoft gave up, and even Blackberry succumbed to the two powers: Apple and Google - well, Apple and android. In my opinion the market officially became stale around 2014. You either had an iPhone or an android device or bust. This same thing is still true today - which begs the question: What if you don't want an iPhone or android phone?

Before we can answer this question we need to firstly examine why someone wouldn't want an iPhone or android phone. Well, the easiest reason is that the person is old and just wants a phone to call and lightly text. But why would someone who is totally tech savvy want neither of these? Well, there are really 3 reason: privacy, mental health, and price.

Privacy

Let me make this abundantly clear no matter what you do an iPhone is not safe in terms of privacy. No matter what Apple tells you. Their entire system is proprietary so we have no way to prove that the system is safe. As far as I'm aware not even jailbreaking an iPhone would keep you safe from their spyware. If you think Android is safe, you're wrong again! It was made by Google, the worst of the worst when it comes to privacy. Their entire business model is: "sell user data." How do you think they got so rich from just being a search engine? The only way to run android in a semi-safe fashion is by using LineageOS (forked for CyanogenMod) or, better yet, Replicant. Lineage is basically a de-Googled Android, which is great but still has proprietary blobs in the kernel. Replicant is as free as you can get with Android yet it lacks decent hardware support. That being said, there is basically no way to run iOS or Android, in a reasonable way, safely!

Mental Health

If you know me, I don't usually say "mental health." I find that phrase overused and kind of annoying. However, in this case, it is proper to use it. Smartphones mess with your mind! Just like how social media is cancerous, smartphones only aid to its power. If you take the poison of social media and constantly carry it around in your pocket, you're asking for trouble. Social media causes people to constantly wanting attention - you gotta have the most upvotes, gotta have the most friends, gotta check out this chat! This will drive you crazy, without you necessarily knowing it. Not to mention you'll only see what other want you to see: only the good of themselves or, in a seasons, only the bad of others. This is incredibly divisive. Once you got many months without having that crap constantly annoying you, you'll begin to notice how much more free you feel! It honestly is a great feeling.

Smartphones only amplify the toxin by constantly reminding you that so-and-so posted this and this guy liked that. Not to mention, smartphones add another ingredient to the nauseous mixture: connectivity. If you were obsessed with social media and all you had was a desktop you'd have to either quit your job and do social media all day or wait until you got home. With a smartphone, you're always connected. Which could be a good thing1 but ultimately just gives you the ticket to stay hooked on it forever. The addiction of the smartphone will never stop until you remove the smartphone.2

Price

Smartphones are so damn expensive. Seriously, they are! The new iPhone 12 and Galaxy S20 XXX MAX EPIC are like $1,000. The worst part is that in like 2 years you'll probably need a new one due to all the planned obsolesce these companies do. Some people would rather put their money into something that will actually last!


Well, couldn't you have all those problems on Blackberry OS – or on any smartphone OS? Yes, you could - and I don't recommend them either. Although you're significantly less likely to have those issues with on something like postmarketOS which doesn't have native social media apps, doesn't have proprietary spyware, and isn't designed to fail after a few years. That being said, I recommend that you don't use a smartphone. Get rid of it and use something that will let you live your life without constantly worrying about social media and without spending $1,000 every 2 years.3

EDIT {2020-12-02}

I didn't realize that I didn't mention the evils of companies uses the GPS, camera, microphone, and other techniques to sell your data. This is another good reason to avoid smartphones. Since virtually all smartphones come with a GPS module, 2 cameras (at least), many microphones, and proprietary drivers and software that prevent you from knowing if something bad is going on, it's quite the good argument against smartphones. As I explain in my article on why modern dumb phones are dumb, I talk about how non-smartphones are plagued by the same issues.

Another item I didn't talk about was the use of a PinePhone or Librem 5, which are rather safe devices, don't have native social media apps, and are reasonably priced with little chance of planned obsolesce. I agree that these are the best option for a smartphone currently. Two things to keep in mind here are that there are currently (as of 2020-12-02) no operating systems that are stable yet and that they will not be anything like iOS or Android. To extrapolate on that last part: there won't be tons and tons of apps that you can download. For the most part, these will be smartphones but without the massive number of apps. You should expect the "basics" such as phone, messaging (SMS/MMS), email, calendar, notes, maps, browser, alarm, and probably a few other games and maybe an app for Mastodon or something. That being said, these devices aren't really in the same league as iOS and Android phones so I can't really say that they'll have the same negative effects. However, I have a feeling that even though they don't have the "same" capabilities currently, they will still cause the same effects just in a different fashion. What I mean is that you'll still probably stare at your phone all day long - scrolling and scrolling… Either way, these devices are the only smartphone that I can recommend at this point if you must have a smartphone.

Footnotes:

1

I have a philosophy called The Fine Line of Technology which talks about how every technological advancement has a fine line between using it for good and for evil.

2

Some folks think you can keep the smartphone and just delete the accounts. This can work but it's kind of like fighting an alcohol addiction while living next to a Wines & Spirits store…

3

I didn't mention privacy here because most non-smartphones still run proprietary systems that are based on Android Go (and still have Google services) or KaiOS (which is owned by Google and therefore has their spyware installed). Read about it here.

Author: Kevin "The Nuclear" Bloom