It’s almost 2024, but these young people are using the “elderly machine”

During the promotion of "Oppenheimer", Nolan once told the media that he wrote the script on a computer that was not connected to the Internet and did not leave his smartphone beside him for fear that he would be distracted.

Nolan also didn’t send emotionless emails when showing the script to the actors. He personally flew to Ireland to wait for starring Cillian Murphy to finish reading and receive feedback face to face. Although Robert Downey Jr., who participated in "Iron Man", did not receive this treatment, he also came to Nolan's home in Los Angeles to read the script.

It can be seen that when this real-life shooting maniac enters work mode, he will restrain himself from surfing unless necessary – "I really don't want to surf the Internet every time I am bored."

Nolan joked that the kids might think of themselves as "Luddites," workers who opposed mechanization during the Industrial Revolution. However, now, more and more young people are "questioning, understanding, and becoming" Nolan.

A youth version of the "elderly machine" that should not be used unless necessary

It’s okay if you can’t get through this broken net.

A trend called "dumb phone" is emerging among young people overseas, competing head-to-head with "smart phone".

Fed up with the smooth experience of candy bars and full touch screens, and tired of the colorful world of social media, Generation Z, who are "looking for trouble", would rather choose feature phones similar to their age.

According to statistics from Nokia mobile phone manufacturer HMD Global, tens of thousands of flip and slide function phones are sold in the United States every month. These "electronic living fossils" have only basic functions such as GPS and music playback, in addition to making phone calls and sending text messages.

However, the scope of "dumb phone" is very broad, and it goes far beyond the feature phones of the 2000s that were dug out of old papers. Some products have only appeared in recent years and are working with young people in both directions to help them overcome the "suffering sea" of smartphones.

▲Light Phone II.

One of the more popular mobile phones is the US$299 Light Phone II, which was launched in 2019. The first reason for being out of the circle is the design – the appearance is a bit fruity in the early days, the size is slightly larger than a box of playing cards, and the weight is only about 80 grams. It uses a black and white e-ink screen similar to the Kindle.

Beneath the elegant retro appearance, there is a "senior phone"-like soul: it can make calls and send text messages, it has Bluetooth and a headphone jack, but it has no camera, and it cannot view pictures after receiving them. There is also a tool that displays text. The bar hides additional functions such as alarm clock, calculator, memo, calendar, music, podcast, navigation, etc.

▲ Navigation function.

The most interesting thing is that the Light Phone II supports Wi-Fi networks and can be used as a personal hotspot for other devices, but it cannot browse the Internet itself.

This is a rule engraved in the DNA of mobile phones. It does not carry social media and browsers, does not push news and advertisements, and does not allow tracking by third-party applications.

The "Audience Commodity Theory" in 1977 has long pointed out that the information produced by television and newspapers is not the most important product. These are just "free lunches" to attract audiences. The audience is the real product of the media, which is packaged and sold to advertisers.

Today, the unlimited Douyin information flow and pop-up games that drive daily activity are similar. But the developer of Light Phone, the Brooklyn-based startup Light, cannot stand the addiction problem of smartphones. Their purpose is:

Designed for minimal use.

The Light team believes that Light Phone II is not anti-technology, but that the product respects users and allows technology to serve human beings without deliberately competing for your and my time and attention.

Although the concept is good, the Light Phone II is priced at US$299, which is more expensive than some smartphones, and many users refuse it.

This scene seems familiar. CCD card machines that were mass-produced in the 1990s only cost "50 yuan per pound" at first, and were mostly recycled as electronic waste. After becoming popular last year, they were sold for three to five hundred yuan. There are even merchants taking advantage of the trend to deceive newbies, modifying driving recorders and selling them at high prices.

However, Light is somewhat helpless. The company started as a crowdfunding project, with a small team and a small number of users. The price already took into account hardware manufacturing and software development.

Living in a fast-paced era, nostalgia inevitably becomes our inner buffer zone and repairs our fragmented entertainment methods. The recharge of faith that goes against the current is also waiting for us to pay more.

Quitting the Internet is an attitude

Smartphones have long been plug-in organs, and it is almost 2024 to still talk about whether to quit the Internet, which seems a bit like a foolish old man moving mountains.

But just as a BlackBerry with a full keyboard is an attitude, so is intermittent withdrawal from the Internet. It is impossible to withdraw from the Internet, and it is impossible to withdraw from the Internet in this life. Maybe no one quits the Internet forever, but there are always people on the way to quit the Internet.

Similar to overseas teenagers, domestic Generation Z has the same determination to quit the Internet.

Hisense's ink screen reading phone is somewhat similar to the Light Phone, with both advantages and disadvantages.

It also has a black and white e-ink screen, which is easy on the eyes when reading. It also has more functions than an e-reader such as communication, payment, and listening to music. It is easy to carry around in your pocket. However, the use scenarios are still limited. After all, the screen refresh rate is low and the colors are single. , not suitable for games, pictures and videos.

▲ Hisense reading phone A9.

In addition to literary young people who love reading, this phone also attracts Internet-addicted teenagers who want to get rid of the algorithm.

After taking off the "colored glasses" to see the world, mukbang is no longer interesting, lipstick has no color code, and outfits are no longer divided into dopamine Maillards. The whole person has become stoic, and black and white words have become interesting.

In fact, this just illustrates the fact: shelving the main smartphone that you are used to, means compromise and patience.

Everything is too fast and too convenient. When our attention span is about 8 to 10 seconds, and even watching short videos requires double the speed, we are increasingly impatient to wait. But also because of this, we often forget the original intention of picking up the phone, and when we wake up, we have been scrolling for half an hour.

When the convenience that is taken for granted is forced to be sealed, there is a distance between us and the mobile phone, and friction is generated with the screen, which achieves the "anti-addiction" effect.

In addition to ink screen mobile phones, vertical anti-addiction mobile phones and old mobile phones that have been eliminated by the times are also "magic tools for combating Internet addiction" with their own merits.

Xiaomi ecological chain company "Duoqin" specializes in developing anti-addiction mobile phones for students and exam preparation groups. It has small full-screen mobile phones and nine-square button touch screen phones, which are adapted to the Android system. In addition to making calls and sending text messages, , you can also scan codes, take photos, use WeChat, Alipay, and even play games and TikTok.

▲ Duoqin’s touch screen and full screen mobile phones.

The functions seem to be no different from other smartphones, because Duoqin’s secret weapon is the anti-addiction system. If you select the "Student Edition" when activating the phone, the guardian can remotely control it, limit the time of using the phone, and set which apps are restricted or permanently disabled.

At the same time, Duoqin mobile phones also have a certain "physical anti-addiction" effect. After all, the screen is small and the performance is limited. Playing games is not enjoyable, and watching videos for a long time will strain your eyes. If it is a touch-screen machine, no matter whether it is a virtual keyboard or a physical one, With the nine-square grid, the space for typing is smaller and the body feels clumsier.

There is no need to install an anti-addiction system on outdated old mobile phones. They are naturally not easy to use. Which one you choose to help you quit the Internet depends more on your appearance and appearance, especially in Xiaohongshu. Under the topic of "quit using mobile phones", it seems that there is a world that is not ruled by straight all-touch screens.

▲ Nokia X5-01.

The Nokia X5-01 with a square slider (2010), the BlackBerry Q10 with a physical full keyboard (2013), the Japanese clamshell Sharp 601SH (2016)… these electronic wastes are "stupid but really beautiful."

But for the same reason, they disappeared from the public eye, or could only take root in niche tracks.

When I was a kid, I could pick up my parents’ Nokia and play Snake all day long. But now there are so many entertainment options. Is King of Kings not fun enough, or short videos not enough? Another example is the BlackBerry, which can type smoothly with a full keyboard and has one of the earliest smartphone systems. However, time has changed and it has stayed where it is. The consumer group has changed from presidents and business people to students who are disconnected.

Suffering one's mind, straining one's muscles and bones, starving one's body and skin, quitting the net is an attitude, the core of which lies in taking the initiative to endure hardship.

You don’t have to change your mobile phone. The Douban group “Douban Learning Zone” proposed a strange idea to solve mobile phone addiction – switch the font on your mobile phone to seal script. The text will be difficult to read clearly and the brain will no longer be easily hijacked by dopamine.

The mobile app "One Sec" sets up interference before you open certain apps, first runs a full-screen animation, guides you through a 10-second breathing exercise, and then allows you to choose to continue or close. When you start to think about why you can't control your damn hands and start using Douyin again, the effect is achieved.

Extending this idea, you can also turn off notifications, turn on focus mode, set the language to English, set the interface to gray, uninstall or fold entertainment software, use a watch instead of a mobile phone to check the time, use a computer instead of a mobile phone to check information…

In short, give full play to the spirit of "detachment". Minimalism is not limited to clothing and decoration, but also a way of life.

The hard-to-deny “minimalism”

How simple should a minimalist mobile phone be?

The Light team has been thinking about this issue since the initial crowdfunding project.

This is a dilemma: too many functions, and it will be impossible to break away from worldly concepts; too few functions, and it will be difficult to operate in modern society.

However, their first-generation product, the Light Phone, failed to get the scale right. It only supported 2G networks and could only make phone calls without text messages. Even they couldn't use it themselves. "The simplicity we like has created difficulties."

When designing the Light Phone II, the team learned its lessons and conducted user research to understand their immediate needs, retaining what was necessary and discarding the excess.

However, everyone's "rigorous needs" are different – text messages, navigation, notes, podcasts, emoticons… How to achieve simplicity that most people find easy to use is still a complicated problem.

Throw in a dozen functions, and you have an iPhone; exclude too many, and you're back to the Light Phone.

This situation also occurs in domestic "Quit Internet Posts". After the blogger introduced his Internet-free mobile phone, people started asking questions in the comment area. The student party was worried about whether Zuoyebang could be used, and the workers were concerned about whether they could download DingTalk.

After many compromises, the finally launched Light Phone II still failed to satisfy everyone and had many untimely shortcomings.

The boot speed is slow, contactless payment is not supported, music needs to be downloaded, ghosting may occur when the ink screen is refreshed, lack of auxiliary functions required by people with disabilities, and typing on the small keyboard is very tiring…

In early November, Light Phone II and American rapper Kendrick Lamar's brand pgLang released limited editions, and 250 phones were sold out in less than a day.

In addition to the celebrity effect, the joint slogan also hits the target of young people – "Just a Phone".

Of course, a mobile phone can be just a mobile phone, a small box for making calls and sending text messages. In addition to selling mobile phones and SIM cards, the Light team also operates side businesses such as T-shirts, mobile phone cases, wired headphones, and postcard sets.

Their promotional videos also capture the tranquility of time, always reminding you to put your phone aside and save time to drink tea, read a book, bask in the sun, ride a bicycle, and get together with your family.

It's probably due to the dark psychology of "acting it". Films with this style of painting always arouse my vigilance.

At this time, the Light Phone II seemed like a fashionable ornament suitable to be placed with a hardcover book. It appeared in the self-media experience post "Teach you how to shoot an atmospheric blockbuster in 30 seconds", demonstrating the ideal of precise matching in IKEA's model room. Life.

For modern people whose favorites have become dusty, to a certain extent, giving up smartphones and embracing dumb phones, like buying online classes and annual gym memberships, are all spiritual victories of "spending money means progress." Actually, it won’t last long.

Jordan Hart, a reporter for the technology media Insider, recently replaced the iPhone 14 Pro with the Light Phone II, but he couldn't last more than a week – "I was shocked at how much I relied on technology."

When she's waiting for takeout, she can no longer check social media and can only listen to podcasts. When she rides the subway, she can't play games as usual. The Light Phone II made her more aware of her physical surroundings, but it also caused her to miss out on a broader online world.

Steven Winkelman, editor of the review website PCMag, isn't sure whether the Light Phone II without a camera will allow him to live in the present. This mobile phone allowed him to look up and see more scenery, but it also made him lose the opportunity to record.

I couldn’t capture a moment that struck me in Chicago in the fall and then look back on it in the winter, or share it with friends over dinner. That moment has passed.

Fritz Eichler, who served as the first design director of Braun in Germany, said in an interview in his later years that gorgeous equipment is suitable for stage environments, but not suitable for elegantly decorated modern apartments. Devices should be unobtrusive and functional, like silent servants.

At the same time, the functionality of the device should be identified in a clear form. People will love these devices and enjoy living with them.

The starting point of minimalism should be practicality, not beauty. However, for many so-called Internet-free mobile phones, simplicity is only reflected in the appearance and feel of the product, rather than the inner working principle. It fails to "less is better" and fails to reduce the complexity of life. Instead, it increases the burden.

But it’s hard to tell the cause and effect. Is it because they set up too many obstacles, or is it because smartphones are not restrained enough, so that we have been cultivated in our tastes and usage habits, and have reversed the relationship between master and servant.

In an era when AI is about to change smartphones, wearable devices and even more hardware, it is a very retro thing to discuss niche Internet-free mobile phones, but we still need such devices to exist and hope they can do the job better.

Schopenhauer said that life is like a pendulum, swinging between pain and boredom. Fashion is also a cycle, and the tug-of-war between minimalism and extreme complexity never stops. When we get used to the smartness and noise of smartphones, we occasionally crave quieter and simpler options and actively control the safe distance between ourselves and the Internet.

It is as sharp as autumn frost and can ward off evil disasters. Work email: [email protected]

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