Phantom vibration syndrome

Phantom vibration syndrome

I gave up my smartphone a little over a year ago in a daring move which I proceeded to brag about in that charming self-deprecative way that partially shields one's nauseating pretentiousness.

It was one of the wisest decisions I've ever made, not exactly up there with marrying my wife and having my kids, but damn close... and the former benefit from it.

Here's why:

First, I was manifestly addicted to it, so much so that I often thought I felt the device vibrating against my leg when in fact it wasn't, a condition (so prevalent, there's a condition!) known as phantom vibration syndrome, reflexively reaching into my pocket hundreds of times a day making it impossible to ever have a singular focus. I checked Facebook at the dinner table instead of engaging my children about their day, thereby defeating the point of family meals. I spent too much time in the bathroom reading articles that didn't matter, losing precious minutes to play with my kids and connect with my wife. And I stared into its glowing screen at some mindless triviality instead of allowing my mind and soul to relax into that soft lull in time that happens right before bed. I was in short a slave to my device. It did not serve me. I served it.

Second, our family budget experienced a tightening of the drawstrings as I stepped back from the theater. When my wife and I evaluated common expenditures for the cutting floor, we discovered that switching to dumbphones would save $60 per month or $720 annually. So on a Saturday in September 2015, we marched into the AT&T store and demanded to be shown their stupidest phones. And stupid phones we received.

The stupidest. I bought the Samsung Rugby 4, a clunky but tough flip phone popular with construction contractors, hoping to mitigate disaster as my young son was sure to drop it in the toilet or push an armoire over on it or spike it like a football.

What's striking about owning a dumbphone is not the guffaws and pitying looks from friends, family and strangers as you whip it out to make a call or T9 (remember that?) a text, but the amazingly terrible operating system. Whoever coded the OS for the Samsung Rugby 4 probably graduated last their class at Uncle Billy's Technical Clown College for the Willfully Blind. The 'A' students are all tasked to the latest Apple gizmo or the next Samsung fire hazard. The 'D' students are all huddled in a dank basement kicking rats away from their feet as they repeatedly reinvent the wheel of the dumbphone OS.

Here are a few examples of the utter asshattery of issues I experience:

Clock Alarm. If you set an alarm for 4:30am, it will wake you sometime after 5:00am which of course makes sense to lunatics.

Battery Life. I can charge this thing up and it will either die in five minutes or two weeks. I don't get to choose.

Text Messages. I can check new messages with no problem. However, the OS archives read messages like a sugar-hopped toddler. There's no discernible order. Not alphabetical. Not by date. Not by sender. Nothing. Just chaos.


I read for pleasure again. I didn't even check Facebook yesterday. I had time to get on the floor my kids after a long day at work. I get in bed in a dark room and spend quiet moments next to my wife as we listen to our four-month old coo in her sleep.

It's still worth it despite my stupid idiot birdbrain of a phone. I'm not going back, at least not yet. 

And it would help if we could get at least a 'C' student into the dumbphone market.

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