There is a silent war raging everyday. Hundreds of millions of people are fighting against multi-billion dollar corporations manned with scores of experts focused on making you spend as much time as possible on your smartphone.
They're also fighting for their mental health.
It sounds a little extreme, like some kind of Q-Anon conspiracy, but it's actually just pure science. Social media companies work with psychologists and experts to figure out the optimal way to keep you tethered to their apps. They measure, they analyse, they test, and adjust their algorithms to get the best results. You are the product. There's nothing particularly nefarious about it, it's just capitalism.
If you sometimes have the wherewithal to see yourself sinking further but want to stop and are finding it hard to put the damn thing down then you are not alone, and you are not to blame.
Fortunately, there is an alternative phone that gives you some modern conveniences such as maps, messaging, and phone calls, without putting you through an emotional rollercoaster.
I'm talking about the Light Phone.
What Is The Light Phone?
The Light Phone is a $299 USD, barebones, 4G LTE mobile phone with limited capabilities. It uses an e-ink display and only has a handful of apps. The ones that it does have are considerably more simple than what you're probably used to.
All of this is intentional.
Light Phone Has a Two Page Manual
You know it's minimal when something has a two page manual. Even my toaster has more pages.
If you've used an e-book reader than you know what an e-ink display looks and feels like. It's slow, it's colorless, but it is super easy on the eyes. The backlight is very gentle, but more importantly, there is no blue light.
This all sounds great, but the speed of the interface does take some getting used to. Here again though, this is all intentional. You cannot expect to make a change in your life without some sacrifice. In this case, you are going to spend a little longer typing out your messages and waiting for things.
This too will help you, trust me.
What Can The Light Phone Do?
Honestly, not a lot.
You can send text messages (even to a group, but no image capabilities) from your contact list, get text directions, make phone calls, and listen to music. Optionally you can add an alarm, calculator, and a couple of other simple bits.
If you're hoping for email, social networking, or a browser then forget it. Remember, the simplicity is the point. Do you want to make a change in your life or not?
What's Battery Life Like On The Light Phone?
Interestingly, the battery life is your standard 1-2 days. That's because the battery is tiny. You'll realize this when you pick the thing up, it's lighter than a handful of strawberries.
Can The Light Phone Connect?
Yes, you can connect to Bluetooth, WiFi, and there's even a headphone jack. We're not in the dark ages, after all.
Will The Light Phone Work In My Region?
There are two version and you'll need to make sure yours is compatible. The company is based in America but I'm in Europe and it works without any issues.
Why Not Just Limit My Phone Use?
Most smartphones these days have the ability to set soft limits and show you usage reports. These are all really great, for making you feel ashamed and guilty at the end of the week.
If this is all you need then you're set. The rest of us mere mortals need more help.
The Light Phone's approach is very serious and gets to the heart of the matter. The Light Phone is that good friend that will tell you that you have sauce on your cheek, your breath could use some freshening up, and maybe your partner isn't an optimal match.
Why I Use the Light Phone
Everyone begins looking to change their usage for varying reasons. Maybe you're hooked on social media or games, maybe you're tired of doomscrolling and its impact on your mental health. Or perhaps you find that it's genuinely impacting your ability to focus as you constantly switch between apps looking for an escape and just one more dose of screen time before you go back to reality.
Personally, because of the smartphones' ability to envelop me in a joyful void coupled with how expertly engineered apps are to deliver dopamine hits in relentless snack-size doses I find it genuinely difficult to put the damn thing down so that I can work, sleep, wash dishes, or whatever else I yearn to delay doing.
My quest to reduce my smartphone time is a personal one, and maybe we need to reframe our use of technology as highly personal because its impacts are exactly that. This means stripping back the functionality to their core essentials.
I don't think it's realistic, or necessary, to completely be without a phone. It's not impossible, but communicating with and being available for others is a wonderful thing; you don't need to throw out an entire apple just because it has a bruise. Cut out the bad parts and enjoy.
Differences Between a Smartphone and Light Phone
We've become so accustomed to the speed and ease of use of a smartphone that anything less is jarring.
The Light Phone will be a test of another kind, but a rewarding one. If you decide to try it out and stick with it, you will notice a change. But that will require patience and sacrifice on your part. The Light Phone requires you to be intentional with your usage; nothing is immediate, and you'll find yourself wishing there was more. I'll take time to silence those urges.
When you are ready, not if, but when, you will start to question what tradeoffs you are making when using a smartphone at the expense of your physical and mental health in order to achieve these conveniences.
Alright, I'm Ready, But Scared!
If a 100% switch seems extreme then don't worry, you don't have to go cold turkey. Consider using both phones. Set limits for yourself and only take your Light Phone when you know you don't need the functionality from a smartphone. Give yourself small but attainable goals to gently wean yourself away.
Maybe you will get to a point where you naturally switch completely, maybe you won't. Go easy on yourself, set realistic goals, and take it day by day.
Remember, experts have worked to get you hooked on your favorite apps, it's not going to be easy to claw back that freedom. But if you are ready then the Light Phone is what you need to take control of your phone time, stop the doomscrolling, start feeling better, and improve your mental health.