Life without a phone is hassle-free and ensures privacy

Rasha al Raisi – My cousin Mohammed is 21 years old. He’s a phone addict and a nomophobic. He owns two phones and always gets excited by the arrival of new versions in the market. Like many, Mohammed suffers from aches related to phones overuse: wrist pains, pins and needles and headaches. His generation calls themselves “old-timers” because they remember a phone-free childhood and lament about the simplicity of life at that time. But none of them is ready to give up his or her mobile in order to live that life again.
Mohammed has been urging me for a while now to write this article. He can’t imagine his life without a smartphone and doesn’t know how I do it. What about Whatsapp or Instagram or Snapchat? How could you stay in touch with people? Don’t you get tempted when you see other people’s phones? What if I buy a smartphone, will you use it? I answer all these questions with a shrug of a shoulder and the usual: “So what!” But today, I decided to sit and write it up for him.
Well dear Mohammed, life without a smartphone is a hassle free one. I like the fact that I’m not attached to my phone and keep throwing it right and left, and then beg everyone else to give me a ring to know its whereabouts. I switch it off completely when sleeping and when charging it, knowing that everything can wait. I don’t get anxious about why people aren’t answering my messages immediately or why aren’t they commenting on my pictures and posts. I get all the time I want to observe my surroundings, contemplate and reflect on different things happening around me. I have focus and my memory is much better than many others I know. I sleep well and enjoy my cats’ company.
But sometimes I do feel like Saint-Exupery’s little prince, living in seclusion. Very few people understand and respect your decision of not having a smartphone. Many of my friends call me a retard and accuse me of thinking in the 90s fashion. I have friends who cut me off completely as they gave me the choice of either having a whatsapp or losing touch with them forever. Such attitudes take me by utter surprise, as I never thought that I’ll be competing against technology to keep my friendships. My yellow Nokia phone gets laughed at constantly and I share the laughter, knowing that it will all be forgotten in a few seconds. Everybody seems to have a memory of a goldfish these days.
I remember the days when we used to chat and giggle over the phone. Many people I know stopped calling and answering the phone. Why bother to talk when you can text. Even going out with friends these days feels different. In the past we had each other’s attention and excused ourselves when answering the phone or sending a text. Nowadays, I only get 40 per cent of my friends’ scattered attention and the rest is spent on their phones. I’m not against the usage of technology, but the way we abuse it. Social networks made us antisocial creatures. We’re becoming narcissists and self-obsessed with the amount of pictures and posts evolving around us. Privacy is old fashioned; we are willing to share our lives with everyone. Our reading pattern is changing, our imagination is dying and our brains are forming new neuron connections suitable for the new shallower ways of thinking. Now you have the facts right in front of you, dear cousin. What will you do about it?
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja.