Lessons from my Nokia

From 2019 to 2022  I used a Nokia instead of a smartphone. My newer model Nokia had essentially the same functionalities as the old Nokias of the 2000s. And it was amazing. For two years there was no constant barrage of notifications, no Whatsapp groups with too many messages. It gave me peace.

Strangers kept asking me how I lived with a Nokia, how my friends could reach me. The answer was simple: they would SMS or call me, and for pictures they would use email. To read those I installed Mozilla Thunderbird on my PC.  had the same questions before I switched to a Nokia and met a guy who used one. He said your friends use SMS when they need to. Turns out, he was right.

Ultimately, the main effect of using a Nokia was that I had to remember and think more for myself. It forced me to improve my mental maths, because I could not always fit a calculator in my bag. And my spatial memory improved as well. When visiting Oxford as a tourist in 2019, I  had to plan my walking route using Google Maps on my laptop. I still can draw a map of the city centre with some accuracy. Not least of all, my phone bill was about 15 euros a month.

Switching to a smartphone

When I had used my Nokia for two years, I found myself losing touch with the world. More and more actions requires a smartphone: there are QR codes everywhere and people share Tikkies instead of bank account numbers. I even noticed my friends using SMS less than before.

So I acquired a smartphone and got back on Whatsapp. There was one major drawback, however: my nearsightedness got much worse. It had actually gotten better after switching to a Nokia, so this was a shock. The storekeeper who did the eye measurement told me it was due to using my phone too much and too near my face. My connection with the world had increased, but my health had worsened.

Lessons learned

The last three years have shown me some issues our phone use causes for our mind and our health. We rely on our phones to think for us, such as doing simple maths. It also worsens our memory, since we get used to using our smartphones to store information. Our eyes worsen, as everyday we look for hours at screens all too close to our eyes.

There is a way to stop and reverse this: view your phone as a digital space to train your mind and keep it farther away from our face or use it less. I use the app Peak Brain Training to train my problem solving, focus and mental agility skills as well as my memory. And my mental Maths I train with the iOS app Mental Maths.

Our behaviour changes with our phone usage. If you do not believe me, read the packaging of your food products. Do you keep it any closer than when you were less used to your phone?