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June 29, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher: Bye-bye smartphone

Posted: 02:55 PM ET

Welcome back everyone to a new Tech Torture with Topher.

First off, thanks to everyone who made the last TTWT such a hit. Because of you all, we get to do a new one this week. The torture topic? My smartphone.

Let me explain. Like many of you, I have a company-issued phone through which my bosses and co-workers often contact me. I have it with me all the time and believe I couldn't do my job without it.

But is that really true? We're about to find out. I'm giving up my CNN-issued iPhone for the week and will try to get by instead on an old phone with no Web, e-mail or even texting capability. How will this impact my day? Will I e-mail more or less? Will I spend more time at my desk?

What impact, if any, will it have on Twitter, Facebook and AIM - which I use not just for personal reasons but to keep in contact with other people who work in the same field?

I'm sure some of you will be wondering what the big deal is. You don’t have an iPhone or a BlackBerry and you get along just great in your day-to-day life. But in the past month I've heard from a lot of people who say they couldn't do their job without their smartphones. So it's not just me.

OK, here we go. I'll post daily updates throughout the week. In the meantime, hop over on to Twitter or leave a comment below. And check back in tomorrow to see how I'm doing.

Other post in this series:

Tech Torture with Topher: Bye-bye smartphone
Tech Torture with Topher: I want my smartphone back!!
Tech Torture with Topher: I want my Phone Back
Tech Torture with Topher: My Phone's Back and all's Right With the World

Editor’s note: Topher Kohan is the search engine optimization (SEO) coordinator for CNN.com, a tech dork, a “Star Wars” aficionado and an all-around good guy. (No, really, he is — just ask him.)

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Filed under: Tech Torture with Topher


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@steveplunkett   June 29th, 2009 3:01 pm ET

i lost my G1 for a week.. i loved it!


Dan Perry   June 29th, 2009 3:06 pm ET

I'm betting that it will be a lot easier and a lot more liberating than you might think.


Geoff Gunter   June 29th, 2009 3:07 pm ET

A true commentary on our cultural problems, when this is newsworthy.


Craig   June 29th, 2009 3:07 pm ET

Good luck Topher.
My guess is that your lack of smart phone will make your co-workers become more independent of you, but it will not prevent you from getting the important aspects of your work done.
One benefit is that it will probably help you filter all of the non-value added work out of your daily schedule.


Jeremiah Andrick   June 29th, 2009 3:14 pm ET

Topher,

I am pretty sure i would go stir crazy. What would I put my ADD energy into? Good Luck i can't wait to see the results.

Jeremiah


Jeff E.   June 29th, 2009 3:15 pm ET

Hey Topher, you may miss the e-mail access after a few days, otherwise you may feel a sigh of relief by the weeks end. When I was in South Africa for two weeks I can say it was the best two weeks w/o constant access I have ever had. Enjoy it!


dave noshay   June 29th, 2009 3:18 pm ET

Hey, I traveled every week in Corporate America without a high tech phone and did just fine. I did all emailing from my hotel/motel room at night and did not have my meals, driving, or meetings with customers interupted with emails. Everyone knew I would respond that day and that if they needed faster response, to call. Frankly I find it disruptive when people check their emails during a conversation. How much attention am I really getting?


David Whitehead   June 29th, 2009 3:20 pm ET

@Geoff: It's a light-hearted examination of a technological impact on work flow. LIghten up.

And I'm betting Dan Perry is right – it'll be a lot easier and more liberating than you think. And I wonder how much you'll enjoy not being accessible 24/7? Enough that you might be reluctant to take the iPhone back at the end of the week?


Mita Beach   June 29th, 2009 3:20 pm ET

This one makes me nervous. I just recently dropped back to just a blackberry. For about 2 years I was carrying a iphone and a blackberry.

can't wait for the updates!


Walt   June 29th, 2009 3:25 pm ET

There is a thing called being "too connected".

I have a windows mobile phone, but very few people have its number (not even my parents), and even fewer have the gmail email address monitored by the phone.

Basically, in terms of contacting me on my phone, is strictly "emergency use only".

Whereas, having a smartphone allows me to play Need For Speed during boring meetings.


ms jacksonville, fl   June 29th, 2009 3:27 pm ET

I have 3 email accts filtering into my phone. That with text messages and internet. I have found in the past few months that I tend not to answer things as quickly because I feel like I am swamped and can not get away from it.

Give up my smartphone? Sure! Give me my candy bar back!


Rich B   June 29th, 2009 3:30 pm ET

My company did away with all Blackberry phones and handed out pagers. We all went through withdrawal for the first couple of months, but things are much better now. I no longer check email at 3:00am and my family is much happier.


Sarah   June 29th, 2009 3:40 pm ET

I like my phone to do 4 things: make calls, receive calls, wake me in the morning, and text. It does some random other things (like take pictuers) but accessing the internet isn't one of them and I don't see why I'd need my phone to be an extension of my computer. That's why I have a computer: to do computer things on a real sized screen. A friend bought an iPhone – probably because she lives in Seattle and it seems everyone in Seattle is a kind of a tech-hippie – and I couldn't imagine posting blog entires or viewing twitter on such a rediculously small screen. Behold the new way to ruin one's eyes: peering at tiny font on small phone screens is the new sewing black on black.


chris   June 29th, 2009 3:48 pm ET

I have gotten by on a Sony Ericcson w580 phone. I don't text message at all, don't access the web on it, I just call people and receive calls.
The best thing about avoiding too much multitasking is that you might find yourself focusing more, and doing better at it, on your work. As a result some people might take notice that you go further into detail, focus better on the task at hand, and perhaps even still work very well with others to accomplish your set goals.

Multitasking has its ups and downs. One of the downs is that it means you might do a poorer job then usual at that one thing you really need to do. You might even overlook or miss something important that you otherwise wouldn't have had the time to look into that might be the boon for your career!
Great IDea! Smart phone use is good in moderation, it makes it very easy to get ahold of someone fast and find info....IT IS JUST A TOOL, think of it like that.


Brad   June 29th, 2009 3:51 pm ET

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with Dan Perry, and the others, that it will be a lot easier than initially thought. Unfortunately, convenience begets overuse and over reliance of that same convenience. All too often, people resort to texting or email because they are bored with a meeting or simply bored.

And we wonder what ever happened to conversation!


Shawn Vyker   June 29th, 2009 3:53 pm ET

Hey Topher,

I returned my recently purchased iPhone 3G to the store a few weeks back, after having the iPhone since it came out. I invested in an online Skype number (can't wait for Google Voice) and now people can leave me messages anywhere, anytime they want. It feels so liberating to be disconnected. Now I can finally live life and connect with people when I feel the need to. Maybe when I can limit the time I spend on Facebook at work I will be able to become more productive too!

Good luck on the week long trial!


dg   June 29th, 2009 3:58 pm ET

This is silly. Why all this claptrap about the relief of not having a laptop or PDA nearby?

A generation ago, the question was whether your SOHO had an all-in-one machine (print,copy,fax,scan) even though most people had nothing to scan.

A generation before, it was having a phone at your desk at all.

A generation before, it was having a desk.

We've been using technology to get things done since the wheel. What's new? Today's technology is as valuable to the story of human progress as a copier was to not having to type over carbon paper.

All of you talking about how much better things are without carrying your PDA, would you be willing to go back to using a typewriter and commuting to work by horse-drawn cart (bring your own shovel)? Anyone? Bueller?


Kat   June 29th, 2009 3:59 pm ET

I'm betting you're more productive in shorter bursts....
in other words you schedule your time better cause you have specific equipment you need a specific times.

This is coming from someone who doesn't have a smartphone and honestly can't say she want's one.. although the apps can be great to play with occasionally.

Have fun ... and enjoy the breathing room.


Vern   June 29th, 2009 3:59 pm ET

I use my BlackBerry in lieu of a laptop. It will do everything I need it to remotely, nobody but me knows these accounts are 24×7 so they don't demand I be there all the time, and I can be more responsive without killing myself to do it (I'm a small business owner and doing too much with too little as it is).

I'm glad some people can do without their smartphones, for me, it's the only thing that keeps me from being chained to the office.


Craig K   June 29th, 2009 4:02 pm ET

There's definitely a reason they call them "Crackberries". 5 bucks says the thing he misses the most is not being able to answer all those questions at the bar. You know the ones I'm talking about. "Dude, what was that movie where Charlie Sheen is that guy who's a garbage man and it co-stars his brother, and they shoot that guy in the butt with a pellet gun...You know." I bet we've all done it. http://www.imdb.com or Google it on the phone.


Miss_B   June 29th, 2009 4:13 pm ET

I'm so pleased that Tech Torture with Topher is back. Congratulations!

My boyfriend is an attorney and is expected to have his Blackberry at the ready 24/7 – literally! My job doesn't require (or even have any use for) a smartphone. The funny thing is that I'm dying to have one, while my boyfriend is dying to get rid of his! I carry my laptop around like it's my favorite blankie.

I want an iPhone so badly I can taste it, but haven't been able to come up with a good reason to justify the monthly cost of being that connected. I think you're going to feel withdrawl symptoms, but maybe after a week you'll feel unburdened. I look forward to the updates. ~Miss_B


Saint Tosin   June 29th, 2009 4:13 pm ET

I can tell you it will not make much of a difference in regards to impacting your work. its the fun that might be reduced. I once dropped my OMNIA for 2 weeks for a Nokia 2100 and work was still normal for me, considering the fact that I am an fpoc of about 6 e-commerce websites. Its the fun (chats and the likes) that i get to miss.

Waiting to see your result though.


Rich   June 29th, 2009 4:14 pm ET

I'm an IT professional who has a phone that makes and receives calls. That's it; I guess I'm weird. It can take pictures – heck, it can text and access the web, but I don't want those services.

It's been suggested I should just sign up with Jitterbug, sit in a rocker and nap a lot.

That doesn't sound so bad....


@Sarah   June 29th, 2009 4:22 pm ET

"and I couldn’t imagine posting blog entires or viewing twitter on such a rediculously small screen."

Seriously? Are you one of those screen gluttons that need 13" of widescreen glory to view 160 character tweets?

I read CNN, post on blogs, reddit, digg, wikipedia, email, tweet, all just fine on my "rediculously" small screen.


Dave   June 29th, 2009 4:24 pm ET

I suspect you'll end up crying in the fetal position without your precious phone, Paris. Good grief.


Tim   June 29th, 2009 4:26 pm ET

Ha Ha Ha – So funny! Folks I don't even own a cell phone.


AJ   June 29th, 2009 4:36 pm ET

You are lucky you have "corporate email" to check! Be thankful that you have a job in the first place. i would love to be "burdoned" by corporate emails ... if only I was fortunate enough to have a job...


without   June 29th, 2009 4:40 pm ET

I have a smartphone.

But, I don't– and won't– use it for work. I do not inform my co-workers that I even have a mobile phone. I pay for it, it's mine, and it's for family to contact me only. I only share the number with a handful of people.

I also would not carry a company phone. I have before, and it's not worth it. It's convenient, and necessary for some jobs. But, it's also meaning that you work more hours (even if it's "just" e-mailing co-workers back). You're probably not getting paid to take calls at night/weekends, or e-mail on nights/weekends when off work. You're bringing your work home with you for nothing. Even if they company pays for your smartphone, they're likely not paying for the extra work hours that you're putting in with the smartphone. Unless I'm paid to take calls/e-mails at night/weekends, I wouldn't carry a smartphone. And, even if paid, I would think seriously about the option.

My free time is MY free time. I can spend it alone, or with family/friends. No one needs to interrupt me. Somehow people managed to survive for centuries without smartphones or mobile phones. People worked during the day, then went home. Maybe they got a call from work on their home phone, but that's it. Their home is their sanctuary, and their free time was truly their free time. I feel sorry for people who are constantly taking calls/e-mails during their dinner, free time, and while not at work. People say "oh, my smartphone means I can leave my desk and work anywhere." It can, but when your work hours are over, turn it off! You're not getting paid for overtime... why let work impede in your personal life during your free time with work calls/e-mail? Never again will I do that. When I leave the office, I'm gone. If they want to try to call me at home, fine. But, I'm not at their beck and call with a mobile call or e-mail. Here's to retro living.


bryanska   June 29th, 2009 4:43 pm ET

I disagree with the group. Mobile connectivity > no mobile connectivity.

It's the future, and I'd rather be embracing it than fighting it. Remember all the "new" things you've woven into your life in the past 15 years: Email, online check-in, Starbucks, cnn.com, reality TV...

Leaving it all behind is a nice vacation, but day-to-day it's better to learn how to live WITH the inevitable.


Reinholtz   June 29th, 2009 4:44 pm ET

For those of us that grew up without all this access we can easly give up a smartphone for a week or a month even. I would be more curious to see how the younger generation, when they come up into the corporate world handle this, or even now in there day to day lives. I cut off my email notifications to my phone and that alone has given me back the ability to have a full conversation uninterupted. Try cutting yourself off from your laptop w/ its aircard and leaving work at work. That would be a true test.


Mikey   June 29th, 2009 4:45 pm ET

Good experiment, and probably one we all should try.

But – look, it's not the devices, it's the way we use 'em, or rather the way we let them use us. If you have a tendancy to be device co-dependant, then your device is gonna rule you.

I have a hard time letting voice calls go unanswered, but I'm fine with letting e-mail sit for a few hours or even over the weekend. I figure if I start instantly responding to every e-mail and text message, I'm just making things worse by creating an expectation that I can never live up to.


Ted   June 29th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

Holy Crap!

I can't believe the human race even developed past sticks and stones and clubs without iPhones! I wonder how people even survived 10 years ago before everyone was SO wired in to everything! Oh my God I must have been SO deprived as a child to live in a world without CONSTANT internet access!

Oh I'm getting all jittery just thinking of the pure TORTURE you're going to go through. And to think of all those poor hopeless people all over the world who have to scrape by just to get enough food to eat. I sure hope they realize how FORTUNATE they are that they don't have to deal with the heartache of going a whole day without e-mail every three seconds.

All I can say is, thank God we've all got iPhones now, or we might never get past the dark ages we all were living in until so recently.

Oh wait, I just realized! The world wasn't so bad, and we all did survive for all these thousands of years. And oh, by the way, people HAVE actually built and run successful businesses long before telephones, let alone cell phones, e-mail or smart phones.


William   June 29th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

I don't even have a cell phone as I don't need one to do my job.


Andy   June 29th, 2009 4:54 pm ET

I'm an IT guy and I have never owned a smart phone, although they keep hounding me to get one. I still manage to get my work done and they know they can call me on my crappy old cell phone if they need me. You'll be fine without it.


Clark   June 29th, 2009 5:07 pm ET

I don't use my iPhone for calls all that much (AT&T has about the worst reception of any mobile network), but the apps, internet, email, and texting allow me to be away from my office most of the time now. My trusty laptop (working remotely), Vonage phone, and iPhone allow me to spend almost half the year away from home and traditional office. I no longer have to do the mad commute to the office every day, and I have worked from Buenos Aires, from the mountains of Costa Rica, and from a beach house in the Caribbean. Being able to be found anywhere has given me unbelievable freedom.


James   June 29th, 2009 5:16 pm ET

Don't worry, if it's important, they'll get back to you.


steveo in kc   June 29th, 2009 5:17 pm ET

thought this was be a little silly and see some really good comments.

i hope you make it and it turns out to be a relief. we've just gone over board and twitter is the last and final straw. my attention span and problem solving abilities cant be measured in nanoseconds.

having said that, when i'm traveling i might miss the ol' crackberry (reading attachments or spreadsheets is next to impossible) simply for email and nothing else (no texts etc, my job requires complete thoughts) but i'd like to try it.

if someone really needs me, they can call. i cant do high six or seven-figure deals in 140 characters and neither my boss nor my clients would appreciate me doing so in such simpleminded, shortsighted, non-due diligence and i might add, disrespectful manner.

plus, i'd like my life back sometime before i die as much as i truly enjoy the majority of what i'm doing. ' cause after awhile it dosent matter what they pay you anymore.


TM   June 29th, 2009 5:20 pm ET

I had to click on this link in hopes of an answer to this question.Tell me again, why do we care how this person will "survive" without his smartphone? What about the people in the world who are trying to survive without food, jobs, money, health care, etc? It is a sad day when the major news links on CNN consist of articles like this, obsessions over dead celebrities, the number of children celebrities have and other jibberish. Kudos to you Jeff for noticing this as well.


Lakeshia Burnside   June 29th, 2009 5:27 pm ET

I've been without my iPhone for 2 weeks now and i can sat it has been unbearable. I've become so custom to having instant access to everything that i don't know what do with my hands now.

The other day i wanted to know if there was a Dairy Queen by me and i instantly wanted to just use my Google maps built into my phone. But i didn't have 😦 So instead i didn't go. I know i could of used the computer but i was already on the road.


Peter   June 29th, 2009 5:37 pm ET

@Geoff,

I think it is an interesting experiment, which makes it newsworthy, whether or not you view smart phones as a cultural problem. It's certainly more interesting than a lot of the other nonsense put out by news sites. At least it has some relevance from the perspective of anyone who is interested in how technology and society shape each other.


Omaha lawyer   June 29th, 2009 5:39 pm ET

You'll do fine. My company won't spring for the service, but would really like me to have it, and I won't assent without their reimbursement. I have no issues, and I work for a tech company. Not being tethered to an electronic leash is liberating.


imnotgivingmyname   June 29th, 2009 5:40 pm ET

twitter and facebook part of your productivity is it?


Ann   June 29th, 2009 5:49 pm ET

Rich,

Another IT professional here.

I don't have a smart phone.. Nor do I want one.. I work with computers all day and when I'm off work I want very little to do with them.

Sometimes you just have to get off the grid.. I also don't have an electric can opener (last one tore up a can, promplty took it back to the store), the old fashioned kind works fine and its 100% green – human powered.


jeff alpert   June 29th, 2009 5:51 pm ET

instead of having no life...you'll have a life


AnnAgain   June 29th, 2009 5:51 pm ET

and I just laugh at people sometimes..

yeah.. lets watch tv on a 3 inch screen.. or would your rather watch it on a 60 inch one?


Phoumy   June 29th, 2009 5:57 pm ET

To do this for a week already signifies that you don't have the endurance to wait to see real change in your own behavior. Heck, I can plan out my week on a piece of paper and I wouldn't have to stress about missing an instant email on my smart phone because there's a computer all around me. People need an average of 21 days to evaluate changes in routine or habit. Whatever happens over the course of the week will not represent what would happen if you did away with the smart phone or a month or more. You're simply feeding into people's existing paranoia and dependence on the smart phones. The outcome is deceiving because we already know that you're going right back to your iPhone in a few days. This is a very lame experiment.


James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil   June 29th, 2009 6:06 pm ET

Maybe without a phone to distract you, there might be time to brush up on your English and learn that "impact" is not a verb. The word you want is "effect"or "affect" depending upon use.

But, like most media people, you seem to be enthusiastically supporting the "dumbing down of America". That probably does make your job easier because semi-literate people with no ability to think for themselves will believe any nonsense you tell them.


steve   June 29th, 2009 6:39 pm ET

Hi all,

I would like to propose an international no-phone, no-internet day...
just to see what happens 🙂

just remember, it wasnt so long ago that no-one had internets or cell phones. Lets see how we would fair just 15-odd years down the line without all of these technological advances.

cheers
#
Steve


Vision_T   June 29th, 2009 6:42 pm ET

The issue isn't about having or not having a smartphone; it's about self discipline and personal habits.

One can have several smartphones and, with proper discipline, limit how much time is spent using them. The smartphones cannot force one to do anything (e.g. stop eating lunch, being rude by reading emails in a conversation, being wreckless by texting during driving, etc.).

Some people are simply incapable of inactivity. This type of individuals will always find some acts, however trivial they might be, to occupy their free time. If they do not have a smartphone, they will surely find other gadgets or physical fixations as substitutes. I know one individual who, in his free times, would constantly find a justification to shampoo his carpets at his home. Once he shampooed his carpets thrice in one week.


Wes Chipman   June 29th, 2009 6:55 pm ET

I work in corporate America and so far refused to aquire a smart phone and I get by just fine with out it. Its fantastic.


lewtwo   June 29th, 2009 7:07 pm ET

Another IT person here. I have one attached at the hip 24×7 ... and have had for the better part of two decades. I have revieved phone calls or emails half way round the world at odd hours regards system or systems being off line. Those require imeadiate attention. Personally I could live without it but it comes with the job. Without the cell phone my freedom to travel would be severly limited.


Maximiliano   June 29th, 2009 7:08 pm ET

Especially being a CNN reporter, this is what's going to happen this week: Israel will make peace with the Arab world, Kim Jong Il will confess to Obama that he feels as though he has no friends in the world and that's why he's a doo-doo head, there will be 5 more celebrity deaths, and a surprise iPhone 3GX Steve Jobs Edition will be released.

If you're ok with missing out on all that breaking news, then you have your answer right there.

Escaping the instant news cycle leaves you at the mercy of the evening news.


jloome   June 29th, 2009 7:14 pm ET

Don't have a cell phone, don't need one. Had one for a year. When it was on, I wanted it off. When it was off, I worried that it wasn't on. And 99.9% of the calls most of us make and receive on it could more naturally (and safely) be done from work.

Great for emergencies, pain in the ass for everything else. Good riddance to it.


Andy   June 29th, 2009 7:17 pm ET

I've been in the IT networking business for 25 years. Never used a smart phone, not because I don't think they're great pieces of tech, but because I refuse to let my work invade my personal life.

I'm lucky enough that I'm good enough that I don't have to. I say that with some conceit of course, but it must be at least partially true because my single request in job interviews has always been honoured – so far.

Would I be as firm on the issue if I was out of work for a year? I have to admit, probably not. But right now I don't have to accept emails or phone calls while I'm on vacation or at a weekend barbecue. I won't check my messages until I'm back on the company dime and I pray this will never change.


Dan   June 29th, 2009 8:15 pm ET

Who the hell cares?


guest1   June 29th, 2009 8:32 pm ET

you have got to be kidding me.... i cant believe that people actually rely on things like this to do their job. I have a basic phone (sends / recieves texts and calls ) thats all you need!!! why spend 200 a month so you can check email and myspace buy a computer how about that! get the internet on a computer how about that? stop wasting my time with pointless conversation how about that?


Mark   June 29th, 2009 8:40 pm ET

If you must carry it for work so they can access you, then you knew the job was dangerous when you took it! If you carry it for your convenience then that is probably where you would miss it most.
If you really want torture, pry the phone out of a teenager's hands for a week!


dexter   June 29th, 2009 8:40 pm ET

How 'bout a WAP, like uronimo's (plug, plug)
Cheaper, faster.


David Evan   June 29th, 2009 9:06 pm ET

I've been resisting AT&T arrest with an ITouch and doing just fine.


Chuck   June 29th, 2009 9:32 pm ET

Good luck! I don't even have a cell phone. That's why god invented voice mail!


Aang W.   June 29th, 2009 9:44 pm ET

I know i can get along without my Smartphone for a week, heck for months too. Last year i lost my iphone, and because the 3G was coming out soon i settled with my Tmobile Z3 (i had both Tmobile and AT&T at the time, now its just AT&T). Well, i got sick of that real fast and unlocked the Blackbery Curve that i got as a present from a friend and used AT&T on a Tmobile phone.No Extras, just the phone, phonebook and a game.
I was loving it. But Technology for me always wins.


Andrew   June 29th, 2009 9:54 pm ET

i like this idea and u seem funny!


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Jay from Georgia   June 29th, 2009 11:14 pm ET

I run a small shop. I have no smart phone and my cell coverage is non-existent at my home. If anyone wants to contact me they can leave a voicemail on the company phone – that's why business hours were created. I find a basic cell phone (hint i use the ol' razr) convenient to make outgoing calls while at work. BTW Verizon, I found your 3G dead zone, it's at my house! Like that show Green Acres, you have to climb a light pole to get a signal around here. My hometown is a geographical phenomenon!


justin   June 29th, 2009 11:23 pm ET

best of luck! i couldn't do it! my iPhone is my connection to the world.


Manfred Galonska   June 29th, 2009 11:53 pm ET

I've wasted more money than I care to admit on crap that winds up in a drawer. My little $10 Nokia flip phone does all I need now. I carry my laptop pretty much everywhere and if I want to check my email I fire up the aircard. Period. Smart phones, Iphones, ad nauseum, are a much better deal for the makers and sellers than they are for most buyers. I'm not a surgeon so if someone needs me at 3am they will just have to chill until a decent hour, and I have all the human contact I can stand during the day. I don't need Twitter, etc. crawling up my spine and where I am and what I am doing is mostly my business which I will share on an as-needed basis. Email is already enough of an intrusion, as most of the email world seems to lack any semblance of self-discipline. I don't need to know everytime someone takes a pee.


Marc   June 29th, 2009 11:57 pm ET

Without has it right.

For 2 years I had a company issued smartphone, and the amount of work I did was truly staggering. Most of it, of course, unpaid overtime. Like others I was answering international emails in the wee hours of the morning, and would interrupt a dinnertime conversation if the stupid thing buzzed for attention. My family life suffered.
The most disturbing thing was meetings. Everybody is texting/writing emails during meetings, not paying attention to the task at hand, and it showed. Action items issued went undone, and information/decisions given in the meeting had to be reiterated by email or other means because most people were not paying attention to detail. In the end meetings were a waste of time as were 90% of the messages exchanged on the mobiles.
The quality of work was sub-par, and the company execs had the attention span of a 4-year old because of bleepilepsy.
Nowadays, if I am in conversation with somebody who suddenly grabs their mobile to text email – I walk away to do something productive with my time.


jake   June 30th, 2009 12:12 am ET

Awesome segment! Can't wait to see the results


Charles   June 30th, 2009 12:48 am ET

My iPhone has changed my life. The way I work, which businesses I frequent, how I stay in touch with the world... pretty much ever aspect of my life has been improved in some way by this tool. The haters can hate, but the simple fact is that smartphones are equal to competitive advantage and better quality of life in the right hands.


Bruce   June 30th, 2009 1:08 am ET

Twitter, Facebook and AIM? They actually pay you for this?


yoho2go2   June 30th, 2009 1:44 am ET

Had an iPhone, but gave it up. I wanted it, but I didn't really NEED it. It's fantastic, liberating actually, like telling my security detail to stand down. I kept getting emails and phone calls in the middle of important business meetings, and the only way I could figure out how to turn it off was to let the battery run out or drop it in my cocktail.

I think smart phones are dumbing down America, their turning us all into morans. It had become a bad habit, like boxer shorts. I kept having this overpowering urge to use the iHandy Level app to see if the walls in my office were plumb. My grammer and spelling was going downhill, but now I've had time to brush up and that's better to.

Speaking of brushing up, I also chucked my toothbrush (I use my finger), my universal remote control, and all of my left shoes. And sex. I'm no longer reading anything online, just my newspaper, though it folded several months ago and I'm getting tired of the same old articles.

Just one question - can anybody tell me why my TV is just showing static?

P.S. Toph - hope you fare as well as I have.


Boris   June 30th, 2009 2:34 am ET

I think you're only as strong as the weakest link.
You can be completely armed to the teeth with the smartphone and laptop and so forth, but if the people you're trying to contact only check their email once a day, you've got a bunch of useless gadgets. Hey, I love my iPhone and will most likely get the 3GS tomorrow, but when my friend tells me he can't talk long because he's on a pay as you go plan, I'm outta luck. Well, I guess I can browse the web for a bit.. ho hum...


Hillary David Omondi   June 30th, 2009 2:55 am ET

Love it


David   June 30th, 2009 3:06 am ET

Most of you are so ridiculous. LOL @ "people got along fine before smartphones" crap. People also got along fine without the internet, but would you be just as willing to give up the internet?

The fact of the matter is that, smartphones, like the internet, are woven into the fabric of everyday life. Not just for corporate Joe's, but everyone. So people can contact you whenever they want to. So what? If you don't want to talk to someone, don't answer the phone. You want to disconnect yourself from everyone that is always trying to get a hold of you? Press "ignore" on your phone, it's really not that hard.

I for one, can't go anywhere without my Bold. It connects me to any and everything I feel I need to be connected to. If I want to be "free", I'll simply turn it off.


Earl   June 30th, 2009 3:09 am ET

Yup I have to agree with the haters. Phones with more features just give people more ways to be rude to each other. First we had auto crashes with people talking on the phone while looking forward most of the time. Now we have progressed to streaming video and texting while taking our eyes completely off the road. I'm for a ban and loss of driving privileges if you use your phone and cause an accident. Driving and talking on the phone is wrong but people justify it with all sorts of dumb reasons.


David Lewis   June 30th, 2009 3:09 am ET

As popular as tech gadgets have become, and regardless of the statistical growth for demand, I believe there is a quiet counter tech movement gaining steam.

People are slowly beginning to realize that we're getting brainwashed by the perception of need when it comes to things we truly just want. The more we make these luxuries part of our lives the more they have the opportunity to get embedded into social norm.

It's important for people to understand the different between need and want. Especially in an financial situation where a lot of debt. biased services contracts, and excessive fees originate from it.

Additionally, what have all these communications gadgets done for us? While they allow us to communicate better they also take away our personal time. Our relaxation is no longer a daily event after 5pm. Instead it is a scheduled event for 2 weeks of vaction out of the year, if we even get that. Heck, you have no escape from your job. Your personal time is consistantly invaded. Some employers have come to expect that workers are available 24 hours a day. They continue to invade our personal lives. Never before in history have we so freely given our "off time" to the boss. We're giving it away on the cheap.


Stephen Chia   June 30th, 2009 3:44 am ET

I live in Malaysia, where they have pretty good 3G service throughout. I use a WindowsMobile equipped HTC TouchHD. I don't hv push email on it, but if emergency demands, I can get in to check my gmail or facebook. The WM Skype & MSN application is also great. Generally, the Smartphone allows you to store important information when you need it on the go.

Once example is eWallet, I use this tiny application to store all credit card info, usernames, passwords, and other info (protected by a master password of course). This frees up your brain for other things or need to rummage through small notes in your wallet... Of course, having 5 versions of the Bible is also great, searches much faster than normal hardcopy.

So, a smartphone is more of a tool, than a hindrance or annoyance. And I am staying away from iPhone for now because of its limited non expandable memory & restrictive adds (having to buy everything from iTunes in this part of the world is a real challenge!)

Technology I believe should be an aid, rather interupt our lives.


Johan   June 30th, 2009 4:01 am ET

I could not imagine working w/o my Blackberry. I am an independent consultant who wants to be available all the time (although no client is aware of this), but I don't have to be in the office more than 2 hours a day. This way, I get to be a almost a full time dad with my 2-year old as well. The Smartphone has liberated me, it is all about being available if you want to, and the rest is setting your own priorities.


SdLc   June 30th, 2009 5:27 am ET

Most people just brag about their phones or how important they are with all these incoming and outgoing calls.

The matter of fact is, if you can manage your responsibility as an employer or employee efficient enough not to be relied on 24 / 7, you should be able to leave your phones behind after office hours and be available only for emergency purposes.


Marc F.   June 30th, 2009 5:39 am ET

I have that Vader M&M along with the rest of the series on display in my cube at work! Go TOPHER!


Tommy   June 30th, 2009 5:40 am ET

Guys and gals, guess what!!
People actually worked pre the cellphone age.
I get around just fine with a simple old Nokia 5500.
It doesn't even have a camera. Phone is for emergency issues.
If people dont get a Twitter from me it is beacause I dont and they know it. E-mail me or leave a message if you dont get me on the phone – I'll call back. Just learn to live without smartphones. They just lead to "access hysteria". Basics; You don't need to be on-line all the time, you have a few measly years on this planet. If you live til your 90: What can you tell your grandkids about your life: I checked my smartphone every 2 minutes.... Have a nice summer / Tommy


Duke Whedbee   June 30th, 2009 6:24 am ET

Topher, Topher, Topher A smartphone is just a tool if you let it use you YOU become a tool!
Also for future reference, do you know what they call people who Twitter?? TWITS

From a confirmed Facultative Luddite.(Luddite with a PC and cell phone.)


tawnie   June 30th, 2009 6:29 am ET

@Ann I honestly enjoy the news on my small screen and watching TV makes my 2 hour commute on the bus every day fly by.

I love the TV feature but the data plan prices keep me out of the smart phone market.


Mike   June 30th, 2009 7:00 am ET

I'm an IT guy, and really I feel sorry for people that depends on their little 'almost everything but phone' gadget. Why, well because almost all the time they end up prisoners of their work through it and there is many more things than 24/7 work out there guys. We (the Americans) are becoming 24/7 working creatures. No more time with the family and friends. No question why our families sometimes look like estrangers and we are more stressed day by day. My advice, throw them in the incinerator and buy just a 'PERSONAL' simple phone. WORK ends at 5:30PM. They are way too expensive, mostly unnecessary and make you slaves of your work. Good luck.


rob   June 30th, 2009 7:18 am ET

You're not adding much value to your job if you function mainly as a human email server, and productivity does not always derive from being connected 24×7. Communication is important, but email is just one rather poor form of communication, and it is not a substitute for either creativity or true productivity.


Mr Mike   June 30th, 2009 7:33 am ET

I'm a 28 year IT professional and a plain cell phone just for talking is fine with me.

When I'm not at work I'm doing active outdoors stuff and I don't need the weight and vulnerability of a smart phone.

Growing up an only child taught me to be perfectly happy inside my own head, so I don't need a phone to constantly entertain me.

The only time I it would be nice to be able to browse the web is when I'm out at a store and I want to read reviews of get comparative pricing on a product, but that happens infrequently enough that it's not that big a deal.


Jeff   June 30th, 2009 8:06 am ET

Smart phones turn you into a willing slave to the technology. That's not so smart.


Kathleen   June 30th, 2009 8:11 am ET

Not having communication can be a bit frightening at first but after a while its nice not being tracked plus you find more time to do the other things you need to do oh like cleaning house! Enjoy it, besides its only one week..try it for a month..


rick   June 30th, 2009 8:11 am ET

I've had a blackberry for a few years now. They're both a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing. We live in an "I want it now" society, and I'm as guilty as the next person. Smartphones have compounded the problem, and at the same time helped business grow and made their workers to be more productive, but we have paid a price, as we all have become "I want it now" people. Well, most of us anyway.

Personally, I enjoy having the blackberry as a means to weed through the constant stream of emails, especially when on vacation. Both myself and a coworker took vacation at the same time, and while he came back to over 500 emails(he doesn't have a blackberry), I came back to about 20 that needed attention. It's nice to take a couple minutes out of the day(and I do mean only a couple minutes), and get rid of the emails that aren't needed. No need to worry about what's waiting on you if you can help it.

Could I live without a smartphone? Sure. Would I mind? I guess I would somewhat...you do get used to them. Would I adapt to life without it? Of course. Would we all be better off without them? I guess that's a matter of opinion.


Susanne   June 30th, 2009 8:15 am ET

Good for you! I yearn for the days of less tech! I get about 300+ emails a day plus texts, calls, Facebook, Twitter...my brain has a lot more available RAM going back to basics!


Chris   June 30th, 2009 8:16 am ET

Most conversations that I've had recently with people with smart phones have made them seem anything but smart. The accompanying under lit catatonic glaze combined with the mild facial seizure that accompanies typing on one of those things is unbecoming to say the least. Also people that use them while driving should never be allowed behind the wheel of a car ever again. It shows a horrible lack of good judgement that should be necessary to be allowed to operate a motor vehicle.


Randy   June 30th, 2009 8:18 am ET

before bed my son was playing his DS, i was on my blackberry emails and facebook and my wife was texting her from her iphone. thats a nightly thing. the computer never gets used anymore since i got my smartphone and neither does the bed.


John   June 30th, 2009 8:21 am ET

I work in a high-tech field where essentially everyone has a Blackberry. I've resisted and still do not have one. I think you'll find that people are less likely to contact you, or they will give you space to answer emails on your own time. With the advent of email on phones and SMS, people are much more reluctant to actually call someone on their cell. I think you'll enjoy not being connected all the time, and will probably have a peaceful week once you get over the anxiety!


Chris   June 30th, 2009 9:27 am ET

When I got my blackberry – it became an extension of my arm. Pretty soon (with a good bit of push-back from my close friends) I had to learn to not pick it up and look at it every single time the thing hummed. People can develop their own boundaries. Having my best friend snort "crackberry" under his breath every time I picked it up when we were spending "us time" together helps define the boundaries pretty solidly! You're going to miss it – but maybe this will help you draw those lines for your life!


Brad C   June 30th, 2009 9:32 am ET

Ok, I've read every post and I think the issue here isn't smartphones versus the Amish. If you don't want a smartphone then don't get one. This article is to see how much the author uses it and how much of his life in business and general will be affected by removing said phone.

It's like removing something so you can see how much you relied on it. Another thing... I have the iPhone 3gs and use it all the time. I am never home and I work 3 jobs. I do not have the ability to not have connection to the internet, email and text. I would have to find a computer and frankly I use my actual computer less and less.

I believe the real problem that this author is going to have is when it comes, not to what he has to work around to get his job done, but the people he is used to working with. I think they are going to say... why don't you use your iPhone? I emailed you a long time ago. I believe technology has caused us to have more demands on us from our employers. They expect us to use these devices because they are available. Just as was mentioned earlier about going back to typewriters. A business would lose its edge in any market if it doesn't use all available resources. It would lag behind and have a difficult time retaining employees and being as productive as it needs to be to succeed in a competitive market. I'm not saying that smartphones are as relied on as a computer, keyboard or copier; but I'd say they are getting there. I would suggest that you listen to yourselves talk and realize that you sound more and more like your grandparents. "I don't need that dern television.. we used to read and actually talk to one another before the demon entered our homes." Don’t become technologically retarded and so stubborn that you cannot enjoy the conveniences that are available. It is your responsibility to keep a healthy balance of business and pleasure in your life. You cannot blame a smartphone you can only blame a dumbuser.


RichP   June 30th, 2009 9:54 am ET

I prefer my Motorola V750 milspec which is droppable. Next one will be a Gzone which is waterproof, I have all the internet options turned off, it's a phone and for texting, thats it. I have real computers for other stuff. Now it's back to work, just got a couple of new iPhones and I need to setup the users for VPN and exchange, I'm not taking one no matter what the president says.


Sarah   June 30th, 2009 10:46 am ET

"Seriously? Are you one of those screen gluttons that need 13″ of widescreen glory to view 160 character tweets?"

Actually, I think my 19" non-widescreen monitor does the job nicely.

A co-worker of my husband's (who was finally fired) spent the whole day at her retail job reading Twilight on her iPod. She had to "turn the page" every 15 seconds because so little fit on the screen at a time.


Bubba   June 30th, 2009 11:37 am ET

The light turns green, but the woman in front of me is texting. She goes on texting as we all honk our horn, turning her head in quick nods to give us a tight little grin. "Just a minute," she is obviously snarling. "Can't you see I'm texting?" Well, yes we can, you self-absorbed twit. Move your car. The guy behind me seems to be trying to send her a text as I finally pull out around her in the now empty right lane, and the light is turning yellow. She indignantly burns rubber and tries to pull in front of me, snarling and poking her phone. The guy behind me looks up too late; the light is red now. Text lady made it through, and is now tailgating me; can't I see she's in a hurry? I let her pass; she is still poking the phone and snarling.


Denise   June 30th, 2009 11:53 am ET

http://unmaterialgirls.blogspot.com/2009/06/embedded-video-from-cnn-video.html

My blog response to this experiment. I think it's a BRILLIANT idea for everyone to see how attached they are to being distracted from life around them...


Ray   June 30th, 2009 12:28 pm ET

I couldn't stand having a smartphone. It lasted a week and I was done. It now sits in a drawer.


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Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

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