I rediscovered this essay on living without a smartphone thanks to another post in ~ideasfromtheedge.
Has anyone else tried living without a smartphone? What was your experience like?
I've tried this experiment a few times - usually when an old phone broke. I found that I missed maps, music/podcasts, occasional google searches for things like restaurant ratings, and ridesharing apps the most. I also found that the quality of my life was at least 10x "deeper" or more engaging, particularly when I was exploring a new city.
My middle ground over the years has been to use an iPhone SE (because it's smaller) in black and white mode with no infinite scroll apps and the browser only accessible from search. I've backtracked a bit in downloading Primal/Damus and some PWAs like Stacker News. And I definitely use the browser a ton even though I need to search for it. Overall, this experience has been better than using a big color iPhone with lots of dopamine triggering apps. But I find that I still miss the depth of living with no phone at all.
1111 sats \ 3 replies \ @Car 27 Jan
No, it sounds near impossible at this point to live without one, but interestingly enough, these days, I find myself turning it completely off when I am not using it.
reply
409 sats \ 1 reply \ @anon 27 Jan
it sounds near impossible at this point
Please take this gently, but... these are the words of an addict. It is not only possible, but easier than you think. I've been cellphone-free for four years.
reply
🤔 I have to wonder about this: posting "anon" a couple hours after I mentioned it.
Either you're not telling the truth and loving the SN pwa like the rest of us, or you're glued to your computer, which is no big deal.
We're all walking around with these black mirrors nowadays, just like the last generation, except it was a TV in every room in every home.
reply
It is certainly very much possible. I did it a few times, for long periods (1 year). Sure it was less convenient, but nowhere near impossible.
reply

The Camouflaged Dependency on Notifications

One of the reasons why notifications can be so addictive is that they are designed to be attention-grabbing. They often use bright colors, flashing lights, and sound effects to get our attention. This can lead to a pavlovian response, where we start to associate notifications with a feeling of pleasure.
Another reason why notifications can be addictive is that they can be used to create a sense of urgency. When we see a notification, we feel like we need to check it right away, even if it is not important. This can lead to us constantly checking our phones, even when we are supposed to be doing something else.
reply
This can lead to a pavlovian response, where we start to associate notifications with a feeling of pleasure.
In my case frustration. I was so tired of them i since run in silent mode only.
reply
notifications is not private, they leaks all your information: https://www.wired.com/story/apple-google-push-notification-surveillance/
The solution maybe self-hosted (ntfy) to get notifications.
reply
991 sats \ 1 reply \ @AJ1992 27 Jan
Yes. I was forced to from June of last year to October of last year actually because my phone broke and wasn't eligible for a free upgrade yet. Couldn't afford my carriers lowest cost smart phone and didn't want to switch because the service and what I pay for it a month is not matchable. so I was stuck using an old school Kio flip phone. I think that was the brand name. It has its pros and cons. It was nice being able to disconnect but it sucked being looked at like I'm homeless every time I was forced to pull it out in public.
reply
deleted by author
reply
Cyberspace is a nice place, but you have to disconnect from time to time. You're not a lamp 💡, so you shouldn't be plugged in all the time.
A smartphone ensures you are always connected. In the name of “productivity,” you keep a little time-leech on your person at all times.
Practice good chronological hygiene and stop that. If smartphones leech your productivity, it's better to go without — ”If your eye 👁️ causes you to stumble…
reply
1018 sats \ 1 reply \ @OT 27 Jan
There are these 10 day vipassana meditation courses where you do nothing but meditate. No smart phone, reading or talking. Also segregated by male and females.
It would be hard to live without a smart phone or the internet in everyday life. The habits are so engrained and its the way we connect these days.
reply
I confess that on the very first day after completing such a course, I spent several hours bingeing on my smartphone catching up on news. The pull of the screen is real.
reply
Sure, I've lived before smartphones existed. Now get off my lawn.
Seriously though, I find it puzzling that anybody would even ask this question. How fucking much are you addicted to your phones?!
Edit: Ah, it sounds like you're just helpless and don't know how to prepare a vacation. That's a skill you should have anyway as mobile networks and phones can fail easily.
reply
imo no need to live without smartphone we just have to use it in another way. We have a source of infinite knowledge in our pocker but instead swipe tiktoks and press like button on cats and asses on instagram
reply
For me, I've eliminated all the dopamine triggering apps. And when I want to do a complete phone detox for a day or so, I use an app called Slim Launcher to replace the default launcher. It only allows you to access certain apps (I have phone and texting). Otherwise, if you do a phone detox, you can't call people, you can't text. It's hard to make plans with people.
I think it doing this makes a huge difference in ability to engage with people, and the LIKLIHOOD of people to engage with you. Because you're not always staring at a screen, and you're actually open to opportunities to engage with other humans.
Reminds me - I should do another screen fast.
reply
Thanks for the reminder to get sane occasionally, again. I did a baby digital detox, just for a morning. Got a lot done, I feel better. As usual.
When I say digital detox, for me it means - no internet connection. It's the internet which sends me off the rails, in terms of time wasting/attention sucking behavior.
I still use my laptop, but I've gotten MOST of what I do regularly off the internet. Goodbye handy-dandy Google docs, hello regular old text files (mostly, sometimes other formats).
So - I can still write notes, compose emails, etc, using my laptop. What I don't have is that immediate ability to get online and "research" something. It has to wait. Which is good.
And again - I use Slim Launcher to clear my phone, and only allow phone calls and texting. It's not ideal, because notifications still come up, which allow you to pop up the app (haven't figured that out yet) but it's an improvement.
reply
Have you seen Siggi's Dairy's detox challenge. They are literally giving you 10K to lock your iphone up for a month and give you a flip phone. 10 winners going to be selected.
reply
This is awesome! It definitely seems like there's a wave of anti-phone addiction building. Lots of new dumb phones hitting the market: https://www.vice.com/en/article/3akyyy/best-dumb-phones
Maybe Gen Z will lead the way
reply
Some apps, like banking apps you can only use with a mobile phone unfortunately and with other you can login with your browser on your laptop, but the verification needs to be with your smartphone.
2FA also seems a very important one, but maybe that can be replaced with a Yubikey or something else. But some sites have bad practices and have sms as a 2FA and for other sites you probably can't use a Yubikey.
reply
Living without a smart phone seems too restrictive to me.
Instead, I live a life free of ads and feeds.
GrapheneOS filled with Open Source apps and all notifications disabled gives you the best of both worlds
The full power of technology when you need it, and no one stealing your attention. You simply use your phone whenever you need it.
When I'm with people in the real world I almost never touch my phone. When by myself I usually just listen to audio books and podcasts while walking.
It's really great. But even listening to something makes your mind busy. It's also great to have some time with only your thoughts getting into your mind. Meditation helps as well, but you also need to have deep thinking as well where you actually take care of those thoughts, basically the opposite of meditating.
reply
how would I pay?
reply
I lived without a smartphone until 2012.
These days living without a smartphone means living without a phone, because old phones don't accept new SIM cards.
reply
I tried a Punkt phone for a little bit since it was a featureless phone with signal installed. However the signal integration was really bad and would often miss messages for hours at a time.
I've settled with a graphene android in airplane mode with no sim card. Hard to not be offline completely, so it's simply from a security and privacy standpoint. Would love to eventually move to keeping it without wifi turned on more.
reply
In this modern age, I can't do without my smartphone
reply
430 sats \ 2 replies \ @KLT 27 Jan
I haven’t technically tried living without a smart phone but since 2017, after reading the book Getting Things Done, as well as Deep Work by Cal Newport, I decided to turn off notifications and it’s been a nice and quiet experience ever since. Other than the Mrs, I have no idea when someone texts me or emails me, so unless someone calls, there’s no pings on my phone.
I don’t see any red notification badges and I find that it helps me focus a lot more on tasks at hand. I also only leave practical apps on my home page. Email, Google Maps, Podcast app, phone calls etc and I’ve deleted IG and FB off my phone and if I decide to check them, I have to do it from the computer.
reply
Great call! I've also disabled notifications and it's a game changer
reply
874 sats \ 0 replies \ @KLT 27 Jan
Back then, everyone thought I was a mad man! But I had recently became self employed and I thought to myself, why should I complain about money if I’m going to give FB and IG my data and time all day by doom scrolling. I thought to myself that it’s actually a competitive advantage to be able to sit and focus on high priority tasks at hand because if everyone is distracted and focused on social media, that will give me a leg up in my career if I stay focused and get the right things done. It’s paid off and I’m incredibly grateful.
I miss a lot of things that people post but you know, I just work on staying humble and stacking sats.
reply
I've tried and yes it's ultimately very difficult to exist in modern society without one. I even went the same route you did with an iPhone SE but I don't think iOS is customizable enough to get rid of the distractions. I ended up going with GrapheneOS and Olauncher (text based so there's no shiny icons to distract you) which feels like the exact balance I wanted.
With Graphene/Olauncher I would unlock my phone to look out of habit but there wasn't much to see.. just a short text list of apps. As the dopamine kick disappeared I found myself mindlessly unlocking/checking less and less. After a couple years on this path I def notice myself being less interested in my phone except for the few functions I truly find it useful for. I also find myself heads-up when out side, on the bus, on the sidewalk. You know what you see? Lots of people with their face in their phones missing the beauty and calm of living IRL.
reply
I do it when I'm on vacation in the summer. I go to the mountains for 2 to 3 weeks, and I adopt a completely different pace of life. But the context lends itself well. No work stress, no schedules to respect. Long hikes in the mountains, afternoons swimming at the lake with my family.
Nothing stressful and nothing that requires me to have to look at my smartphone or the Internet.
I admit that it completely changes my pace of life, but as I say, I manage it during this special period of summer vacation.
When I work, I can't do it.
reply
121 sats \ 0 replies \ @Krv 28 Jan
It strikes me as quite absurd to completely reject the idea of having a smartphone, considering its immense utility. Whether it's navigating unknown places, staying connected with people through messaging, or filling downtime with reading, the smartphone is an indispensable tool of portability. Nevertheless, there are times when I deliberately go for several hours without using it. Also, I configure it to where I don't receive notifications for anything but very serious things. I've intentionally limited my message checks to a few times a day. I often use it in offline mode. For example, to generate a map of my hiking route, or areas of interest I visit, or enjoy podcasts in areas with no internet coverage. Living in a wilderness area certainly facilitates this detached approach.
Additionally, I've adopted a strategy of using different smartphones for distinct purposes. One serves for messaging, podcasts, and general internet use, while the other, my "Fiat" phone, is reserved exclusively for interactions with businesses and banks. (Sadly, shunning the fiat world completely is yet simple to do for me.) This compartmentalization helps me to utilize smartphones without succumbing to their attempts to spam me with offers,notices, etc
I use smartphones as useful tools but I'm not under control of them.
reply
Has anyone tried Light Phone 2?
I'm simultaneously intrigued by it and think its a gimmick.....
reply
reply
Yes. Tried years ago, that was my period between Android and iPhone. Unfortunatelly, feature phones nowadays suck totally.
Anyway, that experience was good, it changed my attitude towards smartphones. Ended up with iPhone 5 back then (was oldest and cheapest iPhone still available from mobile carrier at that time), as it just worked, but was using it mainly for calls, texting, taking photos and Bitcoin wallet and nothing more initially.
reply
Lots of reasons to do this and I'm sure it's possible for some, but modern life it tough without a cell phone (many mentioned it already, but banking, passwords, 2fa blah blah blah).
I think the mistake many make is switching to a flip phone with basic sms and cell calls - all unencrypted and antiquated.
I think the real answer is unfortunately the one that requires the most work. Self discipline and balance. To help with that is the long process of minimizing apps and services you use, turning notifications off, and hardest of all - breaking the addiction.
reply
No, and I’m not sure I want to either. Just yesterday, I created an online lesson on my country’s learning management website and published a post to publicise it on its FB page - all on my phone, in between taking care of my children. I doubt I would be so efficient if I were to use a laptop.
Not to mention I’m typing this on my phone rn. Somehow catching up on SN through my iPhone feels more intimate to me
reply
Nowadays it's hard but not impossible, smartphones are very useful but it's important to find a balance, a thing that helps me is that I don't have social media, neither whatsapp, I just use nostr and SN on mobile, signal for messages, but only a few people use it, no groups, others contact me with phone calls or sms. I also don't have notifications on. All these help me not grabbing my phone too much.
reply
Proof of work lifestyle. disconnect of the leash. pay as you go for the internet. 24 hours un limited access is the leash. Only use FOSS android apps. In the future Gnome desktop fill focus more on sovergn desktop and more P2P. I hope together with keet.io the will find to make a better desktop and mobile os that is more sovergn. https://foundation.gnome.org/2023/11/09/gnome-recognized-as-public-interest-infrastructure/
reply
121 sats \ 3 replies \ @kr 27 Jan
one of the things that stopped my quest to eliminate my phone plan was my bank requiring that i use a cell number for 2fa login, and necessitating 2fa across their platform.
everything else was manageable, and i did enjoy the lack of phone connectivity, but there was no good solution to my banking problem at the time.
reply
I'm still baffled that most Korean banks and government authentication still rely on/allow 2fa through cell phone message... One would expect at least them to follow proper security protocols.
reply
Is there a solution now, to this issue?
reply
121 sats \ 0 replies \ @anon 27 Jan
Leave the EU.
Seriously, this kind of thing (banks hard-requiring you have a cell phone, with no alternative options) is very common there, and basically unheard-of in the US. Of course all of our banks have apps, but I've never heard of a bank that required it.
reply
I most likely could. But my direct boss and my wife would probably not be on board with this.
reply
I haven't tried living without a smartphone yet, but disabling notification badges and notifications for all non-messaging apps has been helpful.
reply
keep it up bro
reply
I can't do without the internet and when the internet is slow or weak I get easily annoyed so I doubt if I can without a smartphone
reply
for the first 20 years of my life. lol
reply
I went 2 years between about 2018 and 2020 with only a Nokia 3210 as my personal phone. Just calls, texts and obviously Snake!
reply
Lived without a smartphone for two years in South Korea 2012-2014. I'm just not a big phone person I guess...
reply
I broke my phone so many times (by accident or out of rage) one day my parents decided not to buy one because we were low on money, an awful experience, especially when I tried to meet with friends. Now I could have no phone and I wouldn't mind since I don't hang out or post on social media like I used to. However, on a long trip, i will need it for music.
reply
I got bloody close in 2020!
At one point I had my 1 remaining phone in black & white mode, glued to the top of my laptop so that I did not carry it around everywhere...
That turned out very impractical when I had to get to a business meeting haha, using maps while its glued to the laptop was cumbersome!
Then getting heavily into Bitcoin led to getting a couple of phones, and then soon getting into privacy for real led to a bloody bunch of them...
So these days I'm far from where I was, but the goal remains the same: to get off that shitty habit!
Perhaps that is doable with a medium like this?
More realistically I hope to get back into daily meditation, walks and so on completely offline, and then later in the day report on that here & elsewhere, turning the whole mental wrestling game into a monetized, weird reality show :-)
Well at least the Beast Machine is all messed up now, I mean I even use & abuse our dogs Gmail account!
Keeping a lot of these slave devices around to mess up the data they suck up is perhaps the next best way :-)
reply
Yeah actually I did… I spent about 15 years without a phone… but then… I turned 15 and I started having one and couldn t leave without anymore 🤣🤣🤣
reply