The Death of the Mobile Phone

January 20, 2014

Devil-Had-a-Mobile-PhoneI have a dilemma. You might think I’m silly, but it’s a real one for me and I’d like to know your opinions.

My dilemma has been provoked by the imminent death of my mobile phone. It came to me second-hand and has done me well for a number of years, but I can’t ignore the truth anymore – it’s about to die. It’s so bad that when I try to receive or make a call, the battery drains immediately and the phone goes dead. So I can only use the phone for calls if it is plugged in, which rather defeats the object of it being a mobile phone. In fact, my house phone is more mobile than my mobile phone. That’s not good!

So, what am I to do?

One thing I’m clear on: I’m committed to not buying a new phone if at all possible. I’m hoping the reasons for that are obvious. Although there have been improvements, there are massive problems with both mobile and smart phones, environmentally and socially, from the damage caused by the extraction of the minerals and rare earths needed to make them, to the use of hazardous substances in their manufacture, to the part they play in supporting conflicts through their use of ‘conflict minerals’, to the human rights abuses involved in all of the above, and so on…

To put it bluntly, mobile and smart phones are dirty and I contribute a little bit to that if I buy one.[1] So, if a friend has an old one lurking in a drawer somewhere that they are happy to pass on to me, then I would far rather use that.

But now comes my dilemma. A FB request has resulted in a number of different offers from various people (thank you if that was you – your kindness is much appreciated). I’ve narrowed those offers down to two: a Nokia phone and a Samsung Galaxy 2.

And with this I confront the other issue that I have with phones, over and above the environmental and social problems: our inability to turn them off! Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much into social media – I think it’s a great tool and I love connecting with people through it. But there is always a danger that it takes over our lives (am I the only one still old-fashioned enough to think it’s just downright rude to be texting, tweeting, posting or playing Candy Crush when you’re in the company of other people?). And I know myself only too well: if I get the Samsung Galaxy, will I be disciplined enough to put it down and not be constantly online? I suspect I won’t be.

So, do I go for the Nokia? My current phone is a Nokia and it feels like an old friend that I know well. I’ll be able to text and make phone calls on it and that’ll suit me just fine (incidentally, if you’re interested, Nokia is the best mobile to go for ethically if buying new – the best of a bad lot anyway). Or, do I go for the Samsung Galaxy and embrace the world of the smart phone? Also, let’s face it, will I actually be able to work out how to use it?

One final question: does any of this really matter anyway, or am I just obsessing over trivia??

[1] This will start to change once the Fairphone is properly available.

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  • Reply Flemming Lind January 20, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Dear Ruth,
    I Think, there Are far more considerations to take. We cannot neclect the environmental and social as you already described. But what about the radiation the mobile phones causes to our own but also our dearests bodies ?
    My girlfriend is intolerant to these. I do not understand it as I cannot feel or see it, but I can see how it affects her in her daily life seriously.
    One mobile with Mobile data, 3G or whatever selected to on in a range of a few meters, is enough to spoil her day for several hours.
    And I have stories of many others with the same problems even worse!
    Some genius kids from a high school in Denmark made a small scientific test;
    2 bowls with seed exactly equal except one of them had wifi radiation next to it.
    The result was very scaring
    After 14 days the one without wifi radiation was growing fine, the one with was only starting to grow in spots, after a month the one without wifi was growing large, and the one with wifi was dead, no growth at all!!!

    Perhaps you should do that test with the 2 phones and then decide after a month, at that time you also would have found out that it is possible to live in this world without 😉

    Kind regards

    • Reply ruthvalerio January 21, 2014 at 8:46 am

      crumbs, that’s quite scary, Flemming… it’s something that comes up in the news every now and then but never really gets much discussion, so interesting to hear about how it affects your girlfriend

  • Reply lizacooke January 21, 2014 at 7:52 am

    No, you’re not obsessing over trivia, just being true to your own lovely self and all your admirable convictions. I completely agree with what you say about phones taking over in social situations and it grieves me.
    As to which phone to choose, we both have simple nokia handsets for ethical and practical reasons but I have to confess that I do find iphones etc quite enthralling and attractive…..

  • Reply Sarah Bingham January 21, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Hi Ruth.
    I first bought a mobile when I worked away from home quite a lot with SU and on returning from a week long trip discovered my dad had had a fall on the second day but no one had been able to contact me. Despite my good intentions to limit my use of them, I now have TWO mobiles; personal and work. They go on after I’ve read my Bible and go off when I go to bed. I do turn them off in meetings and I have stuck to basic phones. They are seductive and if you and I are at all alike, it will be hard to resist ‘exploring’ all the possibilities of the smart phone. Ask yourself what you need the phone for, and if it is to stay in touch with people, then stick to the Nokia!

    However, if you can see fruitful use of the smart phone (e.g. I find facebook a useful ministry tool for those who do not live geographically close to me) and will be able to resist the siren cries, then venture into the Galaxy. You can always give it back and ask the other friend for the Nokia if you decide you’re ‘wasting’ too much time exploring cyberspace.

  • Reply Gwenda Bennett January 21, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Thanks for your thoughtful blog! I am very pleased to hear about the Fairphone – I may well get one when my ancient Nokia dies a death! Do let us know what phone you decide to use.

    I very much enjoy your writing!

  • Reply Dave Carter January 21, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I put off getting a (really) smart phone for similar reasons. My old phone did the battery thing so I took the plunge and got a Galaxy Ace 2. It works fine. I take all the points about environment etc. & I don’t think there are easy answers, especially for those of us who want to engage in God’s mission to his world. Using a smart phone in company /meetings/ etc. is both rude and (sorry) stupid – if you don’t want to be at the meeting/ with your friends/family – don’t go, leave the room, sit on the loo; whatever.
    Admission time – I use smart phone, tablet & laptop in combination to keep me in touch and enable me to move around and manage my thoughts. Ruth, get whichever you feel comfortable with, don’t do the guilt thing, and use it and all your gifts to His glory. be Blessed

  • Reply Júlio Reis January 21, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Well, yours is a First World Problem… 😀 which mobile phone to choose. But let’s face it: you are living in the First World, so that’s the kind of issue you have to deal with.

    Maybe start with asking yourself: what do I need? If it’s texting and calling, then the simpler one will do. Additionally, the battery is usually lasts much longer in older models which did not have super-huge screens and all the bells and whistles of new models.

    Having said that, my current phone takes photos and tags them with GPS, which I use for invasive plant surveys. The fact that it does have a camera (a very bad one at that) has made me postpone buying a photo camera! So one can think ‘oooh, all the things I could do if I had the X model!’ Hard to draw lines, just be aware of the mesmerizing effect of technology, and don’t be a slave to it. (Insert meditation on Galatians here.)

    I’ve had four mobiles in my whole life, and they were all hand-me-downs except for one which I bought for € 20 (£16) from a family member who had three phones and was trying to cut down. My current phone is dying slowly, but I am trying to keep it as much as possible.

  • Reply Joanna January 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    I have a smartphone, but apart from occasionally using it when there is Wifi about I don’t use its for the internet, simply because I have a pay as you go SIM card and to use the internet will cost a lot. It was given to me by my daughter and I was supposed to get a new battery for it, but it lasts perfectly well if I don’t use it as a smartphone. So it is possible to have a smartphone and not use all of its capabilities. 🙂

  • Reply Lexicon111 January 22, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I have the simplest of phones – a NOKIA which simply makes/receives calls and enables me to text, which is perfect for my needs. I’ve resisted the allure of Smartphones and use my IPad Mini when I travel.

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