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Need to go somewhere and touch things: People move away from their smartphones | Life & Style

Need to go somewhere and touch things: People move away from their smartphones | Life & Style


For Bee, it was moments like finding herself scrolling through the news on the toilet that made her realize she needed to rethink her relationship with her phone.

The 37-year-old Londoner had grown tired of the way notification dings and the urge to pick up her phone were invading her life, so when her iPhone broke over a year ago, she decided it was time to switch to a device that would let her stay in touch with others while minimizing distractions.

Bea, a mother of two young children, opted for the Nokia 2720 Flip, a modern twist on the classic flip phone. She made the choice after reading research about the impact of screen use on children. “I found myself browsing and scrolling and breaking all the rules I had imposed on my kids. I had crossed a line. I didn't want my kids to think this was normal, even if it was,” she said.

Learning that smartphones and social media are designed to be addictive was another trigger: “I felt angry that these people were dictating how I lived my life every day,” she said.

Nearly two decades after the first iPhone was released, there seems to be a trend toward lower-tech devices, with a growing minority of people trading in their smartphones for lower-end phones, or, as in Beas's case, even lower-end phones. “I got it because it has WhatsApp on it. It's so complicated I can't live without it,” she said.

The trend, which sees new models such as the BoringPhone emerge, is partly driven by young people's distrust of the data- and attention-grabbing technologies they grew up with, and a desire to spend more of their lives offline. While smartphones are the obvious target of this trend, the Nutro movement is heralding a return of analogue media like cassettes and fanzines, following the long-running and highly publicised boom for vinyl records.

A postcard received by Jess Perriam, who corresponds with people around the world through the PostCrossing site. Photo: Guardian Community

Jess Perriam, 39, was tired of posting on Instagram but wanted to retain a window into other people's lives, so she turned to PostCrossing, a site that connects people who want to send and receive postcards from strangers around the world. “I wanted to stay connected and learn more about different cultures, but I didn't necessarily want to be hard-sold,” she said, adding that she receives a ton of reading recommendations through PostCrossing.

The community has more than 800,000 members in 207 countries and has sent 77 million postcards since its launch in 2005. Its most rapid growth came in the early 2010s and has continued through the pandemic, with 400,000 cards posted each month.

The hobby is relatively affordable in Australia, where Perriam lives, but she notes that stamps are prohibitively expensive in other countries she's visited. In addition to writing to people she's never met, she also corresponds with old friends in the U.S. Perriam finds that sitting down over coffee makes for thoughtful conversations; it forces her to sit down and think about what she wants to say to her friend, what the headlines will be, what she wants to ask.

Jess Perriam: I wanted to connect with people without being hard-sold. Photo: The Guardian Community

We started this correspondence a few years ago when Perriam's friend was living in West Africa. She shared bits and pieces of her daily life in Benin with me, making me feel like I was really in the know. I now have a collection of her letters that reminisce about those times. [there]and there was someone who truly understood her.

“There's something really special about having the physical evidence of our lives in our letters to each other,” Perriam added. [There is] We really built a tangible history, physical evidence of a friendship that we can look back on.

Touch and other physical senses are also important to David Sacks, author of Analog Strikes Back. He says we have a sense of touch. One advantage of analog is its tactility, that is, the ability to actually use it and touch it, taste it, feel it. There was an assumption that we would live in a digital future, but the pandemic experience showed us one truth we had underestimated: we have bodies that exist in the physical world, and we need to go out and touch things. We want a world that is more than what you can get with 20 centimeters of glass.

Sacks said analog will remain appealing, pointing to sales of records, film cameras and the durability of paper books, as well as the post-pandemic rise in in-person experiences like live music events and travel. But he doesn't see this as a backlash against technology's intrusion into everyday life. Most people who embrace the low-tech movement also use new digital technologies where they're convenient and effective, he said. Rather, it's a counterbalance to what has become the default mode for much of life.

Rather than simply being driven by nostalgia, Sachs said people who reach for film over smartphone cameras are often not from generations that grew up using analog technology. [instant camera] Teenagers. Taylor Swift is the No. 1 selling record, he says. The younger generation is driving the change. Older generations who grew up on analogue feel nostalgia, but are often seduced by the magic of digital technology.

Andreas Nygren says film photography is much more appealing than digital photography. Photo: The Guardian Community

For Andreas Nygren, a 25-year-old student from Tallinn, the physical nature of film is one of the reasons he is drawn to it over digital photography: With analog, he says, you have to be more involved with what's going on, more in touch with the environment and the light.

Nygren also tried quitting social media and his smartphone entirely, but found it difficult to stay in touch with friends and university projects. “If you're not active and don't message people, they forget about you and you don't get invited to things,” he says. Instead, he's ditched most social media platforms in favor of SMS messaging and WhatsApp. It's all about intention – thinking about what to say to a specific person, not just tapping and scrolling.

Over time, he realized how his over-reliance on digital technology made him feel disconnected from the physical world. It made life feel less vibrant and made him feel like he was drifting in a daze, like he was trapped in a cave staring at a wall of shadows instead of living in the world outside. Analog [trend] It is really just an effort to counter it and regain grip on embodied reality.




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