It’s about three minutes into the video about the Light Phone that I decide it’s not for me and that the minimalist fantasy it’s selling is a luxury item, despite its “affordable” slogan. I’m as conscious as anyone about addictive use of a smartphone, and I have come close to springing for a flip phone or one of these novel “anti-smart” phones more than once. But I’ve thought it all the way through now, and it’s a bad deal, for two reasons.
First, the way I use my smart phone impacts other people, namely my family. Location sharing, messaging, ride-sharing: if one of us was suddenly without these tools it would affect the other two. Outside my family, I share music through the streaming music player with friends several times a week, and the inability to do that would diminish contact with those friends (I know, I could do that on a computer, but would I?).
The other main reason I’m done pining for a minimalist phone is that they seem to be marketed to social media-obsessed young adults. The video I’m referring to was by a 20-something tech reporter who was astounded to discover after a couple of days without her iPhone that she could live without Instagram and TikTok. I’m 45. I already know that. I only have one of those apps on my phone, and I use it maybe once a week; if Daughter didn’t have it, I wouldn’t either. Most of my peers have figured out how to live productive lives without constantly posting to and scrolling through social media feeds. I don’t need a different phone to prevent me from doing that.
You probably don’t need a Light Phone. If it appeals to you, I assure you there are different ways to use the smart phone you already have: turn off all the notifications, for starters. We can choose how to use these tools–we don’t need to buy new ones.