Texting Retirement December 2023

This experiment to get a dumb phone and retire from texting went so well I now carry two iPhones. God bless UX design…

Dear contacts,

I am writing to inform you of my upcoming retirement from texting. I will be retiring on December 31st, 2023. I will still be reachable by text, but I may end up (god forbid) calling you instead of replying.

I want to express my sincere appreciation for everything this contact list has offered me during my career. Since I started my career in 2006 with a thick Key9 flip phone from a brand that no longer exists, I have grown so much in both screen time and distraction, and I’m deeply thankful for the opportunity.

Moving forward I will be enjoying the customary comforts of retirement and as such will reserve technology use for the loved ones and most essential work purposes in my life. I want to take a look back through my storied career and share some of the lessons learned along the way:

Key9 Flip - Unknown My first professional phone came when I started to attend school in Grade 7. It was an innocent enough set of experience, and I remember leaving the phone turned off unless I needed to power it up in order to call my parents. Texting on it would be a bit strange given the expense, my friends and I stuck to email and MySpace like god intended. It was a simple time of primitive technology. I got the highest marks. This is the most recent data point I have for how phones can affect someone’s focus, and it’s been a long time.

Moto Razr - Motorola My second phone came with the customary improvements to the keyboard, battery life and camera. It was thinner, lighter and overall gave me a sense of superiority over my peers at a fundamental level. I got this phone later in the year in Grade 8 and, along with it, unlimited texting. My use of texting exploded as the group of people I talked to over tiny Key9 typed text messages grew to make full use of “unlimited”. Back in this day and age, phone companies still put every individual text (and who it was to) on the statement. My parents would lament the absolute unit of a statement that would arrive in the mail each month, demonstrating my prolific track record as a texter. My marks started to suffer and my social life flourished.

Curve 8300 - Blackberry My third phone provided another leap forward as it was the first that I had with a full hardware keyboard. Arguably the pinnacle of my texting career, the Blackberry offered accelerated my ability to proliferate my digital life. Blackberry introduced BBM and along with it all resistance to texting morning, afternoon and night was vaporized. Teenagers everywhere became a part of this corporate encrypted texting network. My contact list expanded to over 100 people as my parents started to notice my lack of doing homework ever. I taught myself how to safely remove, clean and replace the tiny Blackberry trackball I so depended on. It was a simpler time with hardware keyboards, and the start of a long career at Blackberry for me.

Curve 8900 - Blackberry My fourth phone was another step up in technology as it evolved past the trackball and onto the trackpad. Much like Apple, Blackberry learned how to master the fine art of incremental improvement. Texting use stabilized after reaching an intensity as yet unseen in the Western world. I have fond memories of waking up and immediately checking my Blackberry for BBMs from my friends, then using it continuously with interruptions only for showers and recognition of significant life events before falling asleep holding it above my head. More than once I woke up with my phone falling onto my face. Great device, 10/10.

Bold 9900 - Blackberry My fifth phone and crown jewel of the Blackberry lineup was an improvement in various ways, including the first to offer 3G and the ability to watch videos directly on the device. While I wasn’t as into videos as texting, my background and experience lent itself better to text-based prosocial messages rather than antisocial losing myself to videos, I enjoyed them nonetheless. While this phone was a hand-me-down from my Dad it did give me the ability to claim expert power when it came to all things Business as it was a Serious Phone for Business People. I continued to text, email and watch videos as much as time allowed.

Redmi 3 - Xiaomi My sixth phone was when I started to make some intentional changes to my relationship with technology. I had been enjoying my Crackberry addiction for the better half of a decade, but as they went into decline I started to become more aware of the effects of my decision on data use and privacy. The Snowden revelations and the lack of a Western phone provider that enabled encryption in Blackberry was unsettling. I decided to respond by getting a phone off of Alibaba called the Xiaomi Redmi 3, and flashing an updated and custom version of the OS onto it that was more secure. It was a great phone and the one that lasted the longest of any, as well as being by far the cheapest at around $120. RIP, strange Chinese phone.

Pixel 3 - Google My seventh phone from Google. I truly struggled to come up with a significant memory of using this phone. It’s the phone I took the earliest pictures of my first child with… that’s about it. I remember this being the start of my general awareness of privacy and security and feeling like a first party Google phone was a better bet than one made by Xiaomi. While true, I’m disappointed with what I’ve learned about Google in the time since. It was ultimately a more secure phone without the strange malware the Xiaomi came with.

Pixel 4 - Google My eighth phone, I remember this one having no fingerprint scanner for unlock on the back and having to retrain myself once again to fit the phone. Overall this thing was really solid, I dropped it a lot in my tired stupor of having kids and subsequently navigating the pandemic. Also not memorable, secure and less private than I initially believed. Android truly has taken the mantle of Windows OS, since I can’t remember bad things about it either other than being unable to delete Android bloatware as easily as on iOS.

iPhone 13 Mini - Apple My ninth phone is when I started using an iMac and Macbook for work and wanted to experience the full flavor of the Apple kool-aid. I actually really liked how the iPhone was small and emphasized privacy, but I couldn’t help but dislike the fact that it was still difficult to disable native applications and simplify things. Over time I whittled all the functionality down to three clear purposes: hotspotting my laptop, using Signal, and receiving texts and calls to my historical phone number. I figured there must be a purpose built device that focused on hotspotting, Signal and black holing comms to your historical phone number. Turns out there is and I am an Ideal Customer Profile or more than one for the Nordic company called Punkt…

MP02 - Punkt My tenth phone is yet to come. I have come full circle, skipping over the flip generation of phones and leapfrogging back several usability levels through slabs, full keyboards and flips right back to Nokia bricks. My dream of a minimalist phone with Signal is currently being packed and shipped, somewhere…

Best wishes, Roger