In Praise of my Dumbphone


I don’t own a smartphone.

You’d be astonished at the reactions I get from people when they discover this. It ranges from laughter to disbelief to derision to being outright offended. People are actually horrified when they learn that I don’t have a smartphone. They look at me like I’m a leper, like I just offered them tickets to the Nickelback/Creed concert. They wonder how I can function socially and ask me funny questions, like “how do you get to places without GPS?” (Answer: I look up directions beforehand, familiarize myself with streets and signs, and at worse, I <gasp> ask a stranger. People are generally nice and helpful when you ask them politely).

I’m no Luddite. I am proud to work in technology PR. I respect technology and embrace our social progress thanks to it. I’m glued to my iPad when I’m sitting in front of the TV. I have a simple reason for not wanting a smartphone: I don’t need one.

My phone can text and make/receive calls. And that’s really all I need it for.

I don’t want to be the person who is glued to her smartphone while the building behind me is burning, who tunes the world out so that she can check her Facebook newsfeed. I like people, and I like my surroundings. I’m lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world (San Francisco). It’s filled with all kinds of bizarre dichotomies and every kind of personality and lifestyle imaginable. Plus, I really need to watch my step in this city. For better or worse, I’m one of those people who is very inspired by my surroundings.

I get motivated by what I see, what I experience, by people I talk to and people I listen to, by conversations overheard. I like seeing what people are doing on their smartphones (and seriously, there are a lot of people looking at NSFW content out in public). It’s why I work in PR.

PR is not just about pitching media. It’s about understanding how the world works, and on a micro level, how people interact with one another. If I’m glued to my smartphone all day, I’m not going to experience that. My creativity only flows when I’m in an open environment. I’ve never been able to come up with good ideas sitting in my office. The ideas come to me when I’m walking around, talking to or observing people. I write all of my ideas down. With a pen and paper.

Given that I work in technology PR, someone once asked me if it was detrimental to my profession to not have a smartphone. I told them that it was detrimental to my profession to have one.

I’ve got no criticisms for smartphones. This is not a diatribe urging people to get off their phones or to be a weirdo like me. It works for me and probably for very few others. This post isn’t accompanied by a stock photo of some nature-loving hippie. I don’t blame anyone for having, and loving, their smartphones. But don’t judge me for not having one. It’s a lifestyle choice, and for me, it’s a good one. And hey, it’s not like I asked you to go to the Nickelback/Creed concert with me.

By Katy