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The Rise of Dumbphones

Samsung Propel 'dumbphone'

For the sake of those whose terminology is limited, a smartphone employs features beyond making and receiving phone calls—a device that includes texting, downloading apps—"software," if you will—and internet browsing via Wi-Fi. This device is also capable of playing music, streaming videos/movies, taking photos and videos, as well as having GPS features to guide you to your destination when commuting. Just having to think and mention all these things you can do makes you wonder why so many people are hooked onto their phones, but that's another topic of discussion. There are so many tasks you can pull off from a smartphone that it's becoming part of one's daily routine(s): You can't manage your day to day life without it. As a former coworker of mine once put it: Going to work without a phone is like going outside naked. I can't deny that statement.

I'm not sure if it's because of nostalgia or what, but there's this craze with going backwards recently. If you ask me, personally, I don't find that to be a bad thing, but it begs to be talked about: Why is physical media suddenly a hot commodity now? In terms of fashion, clothes and hairdos from the eighties are making a comeback now. As for transportation, many people still love, and will likely forever hang on to, gasoline-powered cars and won't switch to electric. Enter: dumbphones.

One Word: Privacy

A "dumbphone" is an antithetical device of what a smartphone is ("Feature phone" is the actual term). In other words, they are phones that I, myself, and many others have used and grown up with (I'm a millennial born in the late eighties). These cover a class of landline phones, which are hard-wired via modem. These phones usually don't have the ability to download apps, connect via Wi-Fi nor stream videos. let alone take pictures.

The number one complaint with wanting a dumbphone is clearly the knack of getting away from social media, let alone mainstream news and other mind-numbing platforms. These older tech have been popular with both Millennials and Generation Zs. In contrast to this yearn of old technology, movies fans learned that their favorite films being streamed are susceptible to deletion, often without reason. It's then we all found out the beauty of owning a physical medium containing something we truly enjoy. (I've previously discussed about ownership both in regards to books and TV/movies.) Well, there's no questioning phones given that they're a physical device, so what about it and why make it "dumb?"

Our take on it is the crave for privacy. Being a topic that's as controversial as piracy, privacy is something that's becoming almost difficult to get. Even just creating an account for a website, or some large entity, includes their own Terms of Use/Service telling you that they swear on their lives your information will not be sold to advertisers and third-party entities. How true is this? I find that it still happens, thus breaking their promise(s). Why are robocalls, spam/scam texts and telemarketing calls still an issue today? Wasn't that why we canceled our landline phone subscriptions? I will never forget one year when Valentine's Day fell on a weekday, and our landline phone never received a single call whatsoever—NOT ONE CALL. It was beautiful hearing the sound of silence for once. After that day, the "useless" calls, as I coined it, came coming in as usual. Depending on the day, the "useless" calls we'd received averages between 10 up to 25 calls—all done without leaving any messages. The moment we stopped service on our landlines, it became more peaceful, though personally, I'm still dealing with the annoying spam calls and text messages my phone receives. Even phone calls from a legitimate source gets mislabeled as a "spam call." Blocking these spam numbers and texts still doesn't do any good since these scammers found a way to bypass the blocks by using a random, generated phone number to trick the smartphone's software that it's a new call. Something needs to get fixed here...

On top of that are apps that you've specifically downloaded and added to your phone, and whether or not you've activated notifications from that app, the messages become so frequent that you end up either turning off notifications or even deleting the app. However, certain apps cater in such a way, by the structure of its words and/or its thumbnail(s), that you end up clicking and seeing what it is the app notified you about. In other words, if you clicked on a video, let's say, and you didn't intend to watch it then jump back to the previous page, suddenly the app assumes you're interested in that very video and you end up receiving more notifications in relation to it. It seems like our behaviors are not only being tracked but being catered to whether it was something we clicked by accident or not. Worse yet, whatever it is you're going through, you'd often find articles or videos connected to your current living status, which also includes your job, marital and/or health status, and would recommend videos "assuming" that you're "bound for hell," and how your life will be miserable from now on. To put it bluntly, the life you're living right now looks bleak, making you depressed and falsely realizing that there's something wrong with you, when in truth, you're doing just fine. Ever notice that? I get that all the time, especially while I was recovering from my health scare. Anyway, that fear causes one to look, read and/or watch, while continually searching for answers—thus, creating longer duration spent on the app. I don't know about you, but I find that to be a scary notion. When you think about these things, there's a lot to be had, and it's no surprise that mental health professionals are now at the ready because of online/phone addiction, causing harm every which way. It's the new, modern day drug plaguing many people, youngsters especially, that need to get off the habit.

If an app, or its services, are causing you to feel in such a way that isn't normal to you, nor in general, take our word: DELETE the app. I've said this on occasion on this website before, and I'll say it again: There's NOTHING wrong with you. Unless you're having a health issue, or any kind thereof, be it personal or private, you're doing just fine. DO NOT let anyone, or anything, disrupt your way of living wrongly convincing you that who you are and how you live will make you sorry for the rest of your life. What do they know? Nothing, so get rid or apps, or the entire device, and give yourselves a reason to live. Trust me, I'm sure your friends, family and loved ones will understand.

It's no wonder dumbphones are the best choice now. Our need to communicate will always remain, and that's tough to do when suddenly an app you're using structures itself in a way making you think and believe there's something wrong with you. This technique of fear-mongering is often used by those working in sales, hoping you purchase a product/service they hope to sell you upon. Without all that distraction, and finally having a piece of mind knowing that your texts and/or phone calls aren't being tracked makes it the perfect device to use. "Less is more," as the saying goes. For those still keen on apps and a little nervous in making the switch to a dumbphone, how will they manage? Let's put it this way:

Examples of apps we had to purchase back then.

That's right, folks: When I was a kid, wanting to play certain games that weren't available for the Nintendo, Sega or Sony, we had to purchase a separate, physical device in order to play them. As you can see in the image above, Tamogochis are examples of that; Others also included pocket, keychain games, such as that Pinball game seen above, and the famous Tiger® Electronic handheld games. While small games like these could be crafted into a free app, this was how "apps" were sold...physically. If you're a business person, you had to purchase specific software via floppy disks and/or CDs (compact disks), then install them into your computer(s) before using it, as there was no way to obtain a digital copy. More-so, if you were an independent/freelance video game developer, you'd market and sell your games licensed under shareware, giving fans a free trial of your game then requiring them to send a money order or check if video gamers decide to purchase the full version. Does this all sound like the thing going on today? It should, because we did the same thing back then; Only thing different was we had to purchase our software and games physically, and majority of the time, we had to mail/ship it. Better yet, these transactions weren't done online so there were little worries about orders being "sniffed" upon.
While there are currently dumbphones that still include Wi-Fi, plus playing of music and podcasts, how I define dumbphones are very much similar to that of a landline phone with an answering machine. When I took a Geology class back in college, I was 'green' with envy when our professor told us he doesn't, and has never owned, a smartphone, and only has a landline phone as his means of communication. Despite the annoying spam calls, if I wanted strict prvacy and a peace of mind, I'd be able to live with a dumbphone/landline phone. Okay, yes, I still love and enjoy texting, sending emails, and even leaving audio messages—audio message, similar to leaving a message on someone's answering machine, is possibly my personal favorite. Nevertheless, technology becoming more and more "smart" makes me dreary, and having to spend another wad of cash just to upgrade to a new device is getting out of hand. Enough. If I can talk to someone on the other line, that's all I want. Quit trying to hog our hard-earned money (as of this writing, our country is officially in a recession).

I don't blame Gen Zs, nor anyone else in any generation, why harnessing old and outdated technology is what we want, and badly. Life was good, and still is, until all these entities hogged up our time, infecting our minds with things we shouldn't even read, watch nor consume in any way shape or form. It's all our fault, and perhaps the biggest mistake we've made. However, we learn and we grow, and we can continue living forward knowing what it is we want and what we don't want. Granted, many tech companies may be feeling the pressure, but if money isn't coming through, they may as well jump in where the cash is flowing, right? And if that cash is being thrown at companies like Nokia, would these modern tech companies follow suit with their own "dumb" technology? Us poor human beings have been miserable for too long, and are tired of being miserable—like being in an abusive relationship (our hearts go out to those who victims of relationship abuse). Nothing will get better if you stick around, so it's best to leave and search for yourself, find yourself and make the most out of what you have access to. And since old tech devices are cheap, as of right now, you might as well consider it. As said earlier, your family, friends and loved ones will understand, let alone your manager/supervisor/boss. I'm confident that someone reading this currently has a landline phone and refuses to text nor email anyone unless they dial their number and call just to see what's up. Whoever that person is that's reading this, I envy you; I may do the same thing. My personal favorite landline phone is the rotary one. Oh man, I'll be having a field day on eBay!

May this rise continue for a long, long time. We know that "communication is key," and an uninterrupted, private conversation between two or more people using dumbphones/landline phones is the "treasure chest" we can happily unlock.


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