A few weeks ago, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the diminishing speed of my little sliver of glass and plastic that came on every journey with me. It slept next to me, came to work, the pub, to gigs, and saw and captured my son growing up and my adventures with Mandy.
Now it lies in a draw, redundant and for the most part, forgotten. So why have I taken such dramatic steps to eliminate what most people now can’t imagine life without?
The turning point came when laid on my bed, waiting for Jasper’s bath to run, with him playing on the floor. I was mindlessly scrolling through the social oblivion that is the book of faces, or more accurately, the book that used to contain faces, but now predominantly displays paid and increasingly less relevant content. While getting my feed-based dopamine hit, Jasper said “Daddy”. About five times. And I didn’t hear him.
Jasper wanted to show me something he’d built, and I was busy suckling at the unfettered data-teat of my smartphone, while casually ignoring real life.
In that very moment, I realised something was very wrong. A telephone, and indeed Facebook were both created to connect people. To facilitate meaningful conversation and encounters. I can’t help but think they’re now diluting that, all the while shamelessly capturing data and whole-selling it to large multi-nationals who in turn use it to put even more garbage in front of us.
So, I quit smartphone. I dug out an old BlackBerry, capable of phone calls, text messages and email and rang O2 to change my data plan. I’ve been doing this a month today, and I’m truly sold on it. At first I kept checking my BB (an odd 21st century reflex I’ve noticed a lot of people doing), but nothing changes unless an actual human being wants to speak to you, so within a week I stopped checking. My attention is no longer controlled by algorithms whirring in a data centre created by the blue-chips of Cali. On a train I now look out the window, walking down a street I admire the architecture and when Jasper’s playing next to me I’m enthralled with the amazing things he builds. This little dude Mandy and I created is now creating his own things, and frankly, Facebook can go fuck itself. Jasper is waaaay more interesting than a cat in Japan.