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From smartphone to boring phone: step backwards or choice of freedom?

From status symbol and constant companion in life to source of excessive distraction and a-socialisation. Is a return to the old, boring Nokia #justcallandsms on the horizon?


The phrase resonates, often loudly, on many occasions: at the dinner table, in the car, while crossing a busy road... "Stop looking at your phone!". Usually those uttering it are parents, uncles, grandparents who would love to see the face of a young child, grandchild, descendant who is instead completely absorbed by the content that the small screen of the smartphone offers them in avalanche. At other times, it is diners and fellow evening companions who recall the need to put away the precious technological tool and postpone the sending of voice-podcasts and the sharing of unmissable memes to a later time.

As long as the call sounded like a stale generational complaint - one of the many that characterise a rather thorny communication - it could be dismissed as a demonstration of the inability of the "elderly" to adapt to the new and modern dynamics that characterise the everyday life of the "young".

Disrupting these certainties is a sign of awareness that sounds truly unprecedented. A hypothesis of a return, at least temporarily, to the boring or if you prefer stupid telephones, which in a not too distant past ensured communication through calls and short text messages. And that's all. In fact, it seems that in the long run, even Generation Z, perhaps even earlier than the previous ones, has realised that smartphones, besides offering endless opportunities, represent a continuous and ongoing distraction, which affects human relationships, the real and tangible ones that are mainly built in presence, in a not entirely positive way.

Often, perhaps in a whisper and in private, the more elderly have wondered why we could not go back to the old Nokia, the heavy and massive ones that allowed one to call, be called, and be messaged with a few but essential tens of characters. To those reassuring physical keyboards hosted by mobile devices without games, internet connection, social media and whose only music was that of pre-loaded ringtones.

A nostalgia that changes aspect and meaning now that those who hypothesise this downgrade, albeit temporary and targeted, are those who are usually singled out as passive slaves of the new telephone technologies. A moment of awareness that seems to have been picked up and re-launched by Heineken and Bodega, with the proposal of the Boring Phone, a phone designed to re-appropriate offline life: "a limited series of dumbphones designed to have reduced technological capacities and thus encourage people to enjoy moments of real connection and sociability during evenings out, disconnecting from their smartphones".

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Un post condiviso da HMD (@hmddevices)

The Finnish company Hmd, which in effect is a sort of heir to Nokia, has taken it upon itself to put these new-old phones on the market, entrusting them with the arduous task of reversing a trend that seems unstoppable. "Only 5 thousand pieces will be distributed in Italy ‘to invite people to regain quality time spent with friends and loved ones". All the others, those who will not be able to get their hands on the boring new phone, will be able to make up for it with the application that will be launched next month and is destined to lobotomise the smarthpone, hopefully in a temporary and reversible way, transforming it into a ‘dumb’ device that attempts to make evenings in company more authentic and engaging, just in time for the summer holidays.

Holidays and trips that it is indeed time to start organising, perhaps using the infamous smart phones, being careful of hooks and bait, of scam ads and indecent proposals, which abound on the net and which must therefore be carefully scrutinised.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios