We’ve now come to a place where what we once called “dumb phones” are heralded as a technological advance and novelty.
A few weeks back I came across this article about a new phone called “The Light Phone,” a cell phone that is lasts for an incredible 20 days on one charge. But that’s not what’s most notable about the Light Phone; what is most notable about the Light Phone is that you can do one thing and one thing only on it: have a phone conversation.
The Light Phone, in other words, is a dumb phone, and frankly, it’s even dumber than dumb phones, because you can’t even text with it! No apps, no mobile web browser, no music… just. a. phone.
Yet despite its dumbness, this phone has raised over $360,000 in its Kickstarter campaign, with 18 days still to go.
Apparently there’s at least something of a market for dumb phones.
I’m deeply intrigued by the Light Phone and the positive response it’s received over a year before it’s even available. It reflects an interesting dichotomy in our society: one the one hand, we love our gadgets and all they can do. Stop and think about our smartphones for a minute; they truly are an amazing feat of technology that allows us to do things “on the go” that were impossible just ten, fifteen years ago.
But on the other hand… we dislike — even hate? — our gadgets and all they can do, or at least some aspects of them. In particular, we hate their ability to distract us. As my family friends and colleagues can tell you, I check my phone almost compulsively now… looking to see if I’ve received any emails, text messages, Facebook notifications or comments here on Cruciform.
And I hate it.
I hate the fact that I cannot just be present to those I’m with, that I can’t set my phone aside — or even turn if off! (gasp!) — for an hour to talk with someone.
Hence, things like the Light Phone: advances in technology that purposely have fewer capabilities than their predecessors.
What does that say about our culture, that we need to turn to technology to solve problems that technology itself has created? Or more, what does it say about me that I can’t leave my phone alone while in the middle of a conversation?
I’m not sure how to answer those questions myself, other than to say… I don’t like it.
What do you think? Is there really anything wrong with our technology-enhanced propensity to distraction? If so… what?