‘Dumb’ is the new smart | Pakistan Today

‘Dumb’ is the new smart

  • Ten reasons why you could be smarter than owning a smartphone 

I realise that ‘feature phone’ is the prevailing euphemism for dumb phones, but the very necessity of a euphemism here is enough to tell you what lowly station it has been relegated to by the ubiquitous smartphone. But a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, etc. Only it seems to me that the labels – smart and dumb – have been swapped: what has long been dubbed as smart isn’t too smart after all, and vice versa. Here’s a concise survey of the reasons why carrying a ‘dumb’ phone may be the smartest choice you can make.

1.    Builds your character. It trains you to disregard, and filter out, the queer looks people give you when you take your Nokia 220 out of your pocket. Remember that no man ever achieved anything worthwhile without being indifferent to what people thought of him. The dumb phone gives you plenty of opportunities to hone your skills of not giving a damn.

2.    You need not worry about the latest version. With the smartphone there’s this inevitable urge to be smarter than the rest, and that translates into an anxiety to upgrade to the latest model and have a terrible time until/unless that is achieved – a process that is sure to be repeated over and over. With the dumb phone, there’s no such issue. The people who give you queer looks are still going to give you those looks if you upgrade to the latest feature phone, which – bless it – remains exactly as dumb as the last one.

3.    Lets you live in the moment. Even the dumb phones have cameras, but they are so bad that one is obliged to enjoy the moment instead of saving every moment for the benefit of posterity. This might sound like bad news but as far as an overwhelming majority of mankind is concerned (and this certainly includes you), the next generation (or the current one for that matter) is not likely to give two monkeys about how you were looking ten, five and two minutes before Guddu Bhai’s thirty-seventh birthday cake was cut. And this includes Guddu Bhai.

Whatever group one belongs to, one looks rather silly protesting against commodity fetishism or vulgar materialism while brandishing one’s brand new iPhone X

4.    You don’t look like a half-witted zombie. With a dumb phone you don’t keep staring at your phone while walking, commuting, lying down, and eating. Why, people with dumb phones sometimes talk to one another on the dinner table and show other telltale signs of life and intelligence!

5.    You are WhatsApp-proof. Shopkeepers are very keen to add you to their WhatsApp groups so that you can be told, minute by minute, about their new products. Another demographic that is always anxious to add you is that of relatives and acquaintances. Let them, for try as they might they can’t add you if you are the proud owner of a dumb phone. Avoiding WhatsApp on a smartphone on the other hand is much easier said than done.

6.    You are not ‘available’ 24/7. This is another important area where the dumb phone provides you with a polite and unassailable excuse. Probably the only benefit of doing a job instead of running your own business is that you are not working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With a smartphone, you are likely to be the recipient of breaking news from the work-front at all hours, including midnight on Friday when you often can’t – and have no intention to – do anything about the matter before Monday morning. Not very smart, is it?

7.    Nobody will snatch it away. This is a very Pakistani advantage. Karachi has always shown the way in this regard – and Lahore had joined some years ago – but no major city in Pakistan is immune from this sort of thing today. A dumb phone takes snatching out of the picture. True, you may have an unhappy would-be snatcher at your hands when he beholds your Nokia 220, but usually you get away with a remonstrative slap by way of compensation for the snatcher’s efforts – nothing as nasty as is the case when smartphone owners decide to resist. Though not pleasant, this can usually be taken in the right spirit by considering that one can get similar injuries while playing football or just by tripping.

8.    False-friend filter. The dumb phone sometimes lets you get rid of friends who love you not for who you are but for other reasons. The other day I received a text from an old university fellow who, after an absence of years, wanted to know my WhatsApp number. After having tried to add me and failing to do so, he must have concluded that I used another number for WhatsApp. I told him that I was not on WhatsApp. I never as much as heard back from him. Probably he thought what sort of a freak doesn’t use WhatsApp today. On my part, I believe one is better off without such friends. What do you say?

9.    Phone of choice for Marxists and anti-materialists alike. Whatever group one belongs to, one looks rather silly protesting against commodity fetishism or vulgar materialism while brandishing one’s brand new iPhone X. On the other hand, with a dumb phone in your hand you exactly look the part.

10.                       You stand out. I am old enough to remember the time when possessing a cell phone meant being different from the rest. Some years later, having a smartphone was the thing to do if one wanted to stand out from the crowd. With everybody and his cat carrying a smartphone now, the dumb phone is probably the way to show your individuality.

PS: The author was not paid by Nokia to write this. But he is open to the suggestion and any subsequent negotiations in that direction.


Hasan Aftab Saeed

The author is a connoisseur of music, literature, and food (but not drinks). He can be reached at www.facebook.com/hasanaftabsaeed

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