In August of this year Reiko dropped her phone, shattering the screen and rendering the device unsafe to use. Because she uses her phone as a phone, I did the logical thing and wiped my device, restored her data, swapped SIMs, and gave it to her to use. As we were thinking about switching to a different phone network around the same time, I went ahead and cancelled my SIM. The plan was that we would get Reiko a new phone with a new contract, and I would get just a SIM to put into my unlocked device. Naturally, things changed and the decision was made to replace the shattered screen on Reiko's phone and stick with the current cell provider as the total costs over 3 years would wind up being just slightly cheaper. By mid-September I had my phone back1, but without a SIM card. We're now two-thirds through December and I have yet to really miss having a phone or data plan. In fact, I don't plan on getting another SIM for the device ever again.
There are a lot of things to like about the current situation. When I leave the house, unless I bring the work's flip phone or Android tablet, I am completely offline. The phone can still be used to take pictures and read cached messages but, because it's a disconnected device, I often forget to bring it with me when I take Nozomi or the boy out for a walk. Leaving the house for some fresh air means that I have more reasons notice the fresh air. It's nice.
Of course, by leaving the "phone"2 at home, I don't take nearly as many pictures as I used to. It seems like just a few months ago I was taking dozens of pictures of Nozomi or the neighbourhood with every trip outdoors. As far as I can tell, I've taken 18 photos this month, with 12 being on the same day.
This isn't to say that everyone should give up their networked devices or disengage from the web more often, as it's not my place to tell others what to do nor is it ideal for anyone to emulate what I do. My situation is rare, which makes not having a modern phone plan optional. I work from home 60 hours a week, using devices that are always connected to a network, and the stream of information is ceaseless. Walking away from the computer for half an hour to be offline with the dog is no different than paying attention to the people around us when participating in a meeting. I can disengage because I'm so consistently connected and available during working hours. Most people — I think — still spend more time in the real world than behind a network-connected screen.
All in all, this works well for me. The lack of photos is unfortunate sometimes, as I do enjoy taking pictures, but it's easier to enjoy time with puppies and people when not looking for moments to record.
My phone came back with a LOT of scratches all over the device. I've had it for three years without a case and nary a stray mark. Reiko used it for five weeks and it looks like it went through a cement mixer.
Maybe a phone with no network access could be called a "micro-tablet"?