How giving up my smartphone increased my creativity

Note: This article was made to be written, not read. It is a stream of consciousness designed to spark my creativity. Expect unpolished writing, sentences to hang, bad grammar…etc. You are welcome to read and even like it, I require nothing from you for this piece to earn the right not exist. That right has already been paid for. Continue if you must, but you have been warned.

A true addict never claims to be addicted.
I don’t think that’s true.
Was I addicted to my smartphone?
I don’t even know if I can admit I was.
I would look at in the first few seconds of waiting, but is that addiction or merely wanting to make the most efficient use of my time.
I would take it everywhere with me, but again is that an addiction? I saw it more of a tool which I could always be using to improve things.
However, over the past few years things have not improved, they have come to a crashing halt.
First off, this bit of writing is going out unedited, stream of consciousness. Hence its particular form.
I say this because I need to define for myself the intention of this writing. It’s not for you, the reader.
But then why put it on a blog? My inner voice questions.
Because it creates the potential of something more happening, and it is that mere potential which does not exist in reality but only in my head which gives the writing the bit of salt it needs.
If in my mind I know I will throw it out on social media, it will allow the nakedness of this form of writing to be seen. Making it a lot more salty.
Back to the smartphone addiction.
I have not had a smartphone for 6 weeks.
I still have the phone, it’s an ancient iPhone I decided not to upgrade each year as I had deconstructed the Apple way of doing things and that particular mind hack had no root.
It did cause issues having an older iPhone, certain apps could not be used or upgraded. But I had already dug in and perhaps that was a sign that one day I would hold the strange title of being “Smartphone free”.
I don’t mean mobile phone free.
I mean Smartphone, a min computer running apps that connect, search, sift, sort, organise, rank, communicate… etc.
To unload a good portion of my cognitive load to a device is incredibly attractive to me. But what I found is that a smartphone can make you incredibly dumb.
A reliance on a smartphone and chosen apps can remove that primal atom of creativity and free thinking I used to carry around in my pocket.
That creative, primal, atom was the only thing which makes me different, that makes me stand out. Without it I became just another schmuck, a biological unit which performed the same tasks any near future technology.
Notebooks, pen and paper helped keep that primal atom alive.
A smartphone turned that primal atom into a dead, husk, bereft of energy.
So, without even knowing that. I only realise it now, 6 weeks ago my mobile phone contract with O2 came to an end and I decided not to renew it or even replace it.
It wasn’t as bad as I had thought, as I no longer cared how many twitter followers or retweets I would get or how many views on my articles or emails from large corporations asking me to write headlines for them.
And at the point the phone line went dead and the little O2 logo no longer showed up, I was free.
Having no mobile phone does cause a few issues, with picking members of the family up in a car, meeting a potential business client in a coffee shop (why is it called a “coffee shop and not a coffee bar, or a coffee café?) but these problems were easily worked out.
My mind now has the time and space it needs to energise the creative, primal atom. And writing this is either a sign it’s working or it’s helping the process.
Of course, I am still addicted to my computer, but that’s a whole deeper root which will need to be pulled out and thrown on the bonfire if indeed it ever does.
And computer game addiction is something that needs attention. However, writing that sentence is something. I realise how childish that sounds. Addiction to substances tends to carry a certain cultural cachet. Would Jimi Hendrix be as cool if it were Pokemon which put him in his grave, rather than a cocktail of drugs and booze.
Not that I am addicted to Pokemon, the games I am addicted to are as complex and deep as they can get and have the ability to soak up large amounts of cognitive energy, which would usually spend the time bouncing around in my head.
It’s my theory that having that cognitive ball of energy going like a synaptic pinball through my brain energised my creative, primal atom. I don’t know, it’s just a theory.
But let’s leave game addiction for another time.
Will I ever get another smartphone?
I think being able to go a certain amount of time unconnected from my apps, allowing me to walk down a street without at the same time tweeting can only be a good thing.
It has allowed the primal atom to re-energise – I always think of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk when I type that – it’s enabled me to move my work and my writing forward. Give it a fresh impetus.
Another thing happened, I saw a young couple, 20 somethings, both young and attractive, sitting next to me in the Truro, Costa coffee shop. From the moment they sat down to the moment they got up they never raised their eyes away from their tiny screens to gaze at one another.
We have all seen that.
It’s so common now as not to be remarkable, but that scene has fixed itself in my head.
Sure, sit down at the computer, alone, and give it 100% attention. But when sat with a beautiful human being, you chose your smartphone screen?
Perhaps the information on that screen was going to change their lives, a friend gives birth, a family friend is ill, a family member has won the lottery.
The information people receive via their smartphones may indeed require 100% attention to the exclusion of any interaction from humans present.
But I doubt it.
Most smartphone interactions seem to be of the most inane quality, my own included (although secretly I think I am the only person to use a smartphone in the right way).
This has been fun.
I used to write these stream of consciousness pieces on an IBM, electric typewriter in my apartment in San Francisco, to get my writing started. I was working on a novel at the time, unfinished of course.
Alone this writing will not change anything. But it is the first brick in building the bridge that will take me across a raging river, a river which my own actions created.
This piece is not created to be read it has been created to be written.
I make it available to others to read, but that’s not the point. It is very different to the edited, crafted pieces of content I create for myself and clients.
But you probably figured that out for yourself right now.