Earlier this month, I enjoyed a sunny mini-vacation in Olympic National Park with my friend Caroline before high winds and rain moved in for the last three days of her visit. The west side of the Olympic Peninsula is remote and the lodge where we stayed does not have Wi-Fi or cellular reception. I’m sure we weren’t the only guests who welcomed an opportunity to be offline. Like others, we timed our visit to Ruby Beach for the sunset. There we were, a scattered group of folk, dressed for the cold, some with tripods and big lenses, gathering to watch a daily natural event on our planet … experiencing every day magic.
A few days later during heavy rain, I was checking a storm drain on my condo property when an agitated woman from the neighboUring complex requested my help concerning a maple tree that had lost a large branch that morning. After we looked at the tree, I said I would get my phone and call the property manager.
I was surprised when she adamantly told me “you should ALWAYS have your phone with you.” She seemed convinced that being phoneless even just a few feet outside my front door was an unwise decision. Or maybe she thought I was going to go back in my building, shut the door, and ignore her worries.
I’m currently planning what devices I want to take home next year for SLSR and wondering how to apply a “less is more” attitude to technology other than just having fewer devices and enforcing less screen time. I realized the solution was to analyze what functions I wanted each device for compared to how I’m using it now.
The clarifying thought: I want to use my phone again primarily as a tool for connection with people, not for enabling distraction when I’m bored or uncomfortable.
- Keep: besides voice calls, texts, email*, camera, and browser, keep the weather, navigation, and meditation apps I use regularly.
- Remove: social media (absolutely a distraction for me and not about personal connection) and downloaded apps I no longer use.
- Add: easier video calls with my family and a better music service.
I want technology to help me do less, not more. I uncluttered my 3+ year old phone by uninstalling everything that fell under the Remove list. I’m currently deciding which new phone to buy that will meet my Add list requirements and last many years before I want to upgrade. During a walk this week, I did a neck stretch to counter the common cell phone hunch. I stopped walking. My face had turned to the sky just as intersecting V’s of south-bound geese flew over. More everyday magic brought to me by nature, not a 4″ screen.
*I’ve recently changed my work email from automatic to manual sync so I don’t see the total of new unread emails whenever I look at my phone and only when I choose to look at work email.
- SLSR: simpler living semi-retirement