Once I first sat down with Michael Valeri, a Seattle information analyst who has been utilizing a flip phone for the previous 13 years, I requested if I may see his phone. He needed to rise up and go away the room to retrieve it as a result of he left it in his coat pocket.
And with that, Valeri immediately illustrated why he’s totally different than the remainder of us in tech-addicted 2019, who’re by no means greater than arm’s size from the smartphones all of us carry.
However Valeri, 28, isn’t wanting down at us (as we’re wanting down at our telephones) from any soapbox. And he’s not pulling off some kind of hipster, contrarian life-style devoid of pocket-sized tech as a result of he thinks it seems particularly ironic this month.
Along with his AT&T Cingular Flip 2 in hand, Valeri genuinely believes he’s dwelling a higher life for himself, and he’s all for instructing folks how they’ll do it, too. And the excellence is vital — he doesn’t wish to inform folks (*13*)why they need to hand over their iPhones, however relatively how to outlive in the event that they do. Valeri will lead a free, 2-hour class at Common Meeting on Jan. 30 referred to as “Swipeless in Seattle: How to Live Without a Smartphone.” The Evergrey first interviewed him earlier this week.
It could be tempting to dwell on what Valeri is lacking by not carrying a smartphone, however the larger story could be what the remainder of us are lacking by being glued to ours.
“For me, this appears like the easiest way I can live my life,” Valeri stated, admitting that he’s simply distracted and that it takes effort to concentrate on duties at hand. “This is the easiest way (*13*)I can live my life. And I actually stress I, as a result of this mannequin won’t work for everyone, however with my persona kind and who I’m, that is the perfect mannequin for the way in which that I can live my life. And there could be different folks on the market who it may work very effectively with, too.”
Valeri didn’t use Uber or Lyft to get to the GeekWire workplaces. He didn’t unlock a LimeBike together with his phone. He hopped on his personal electrical bike and rode without any navigation apps — he merely scrawled our deal with on a scrap of paper. He likens his life-style and life without trendy phone conveniences to taking part in a recreation, and he enjoys the challenges and surprises that include that recreation — getting misplaced, interacting with folks in particular person, wanting up on the world as an alternative of down.
Valeri will not be on social media — except a LinkedIn account — so he’s not continually monitoring Fb or Instagram. He’s not obsessive about cell pictures like the remainder of us and the music he listens to is all saved on a tiny MP3 participant he additionally carries round. He depends on WiFi and his data-free plan prices him $25 per thirty days. His phone value $69 and he makes use of T9 to fireplace off a textual content to a buddy.
“The one time I’ll really feel disconnected, I’m perhaps in a bar or some sort of communal gathering spot, simply seeing people units,” Valeri stated. “I usually think about a time 20, 30 years in the past the place folks’s heads can be up and observant of individuals round them and the chance to attach with folks.”
Most younger folks would possibly shudder in the event that they get a notification that their mother and father are on Fb. Valeri’s mother and father, who’re in Oklahoma, are irritated that their son refuses to share every day particulars of his life.
“My people, my mother particularly, don’t like the truth that I’m not on Fb,” he stated. “She’s like, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing. I don’t know something about you. I don’t know what you’re as much as. I don’t know who you’re hanging out with.’”
Valeri, who moved to Seattle in 2008 to main in accounting on the College of Washington, is hanging out with individuals who all have smartphones. And so they snort at his selection. They’ll say, “Use Michael’s phone!” when somebody is able to take a image. On group texts he can’t inform who’s messaging and he falls off threads. His phone can’t learn emojis.
He figures if info is vital sufficient or value understanding, it will filter right down to him. He’s missed marriage ceremony and child information that others study in on-line social feeds.
“I’m positive I’ve missed out on tons of memes and … controversies,” he stated laughing. “All the things’s a controversy immediately!”
Valeri, who’s now a senior analytics marketing consultant with Avenue In Consulting, did have a smartphone briefly, three years in the past, when he was working for Expedia and he was given one. He lasted three months earlier than giving it again. When he was in school he simply most popular to lock himself within the library to keep away from distraction. And immediately he has kind of locked himself into a flip phone world to keep away from the distraction of extra superior know-how.
I requested Valeri what he thinks when he’s out with somebody and they pull out their phone and begin scrolling or tapping out a textual content in he center of a dialog.
“I might don’t have anything dangerous to say about them as a result of I do know that’s the day and age we live in,” he stated. “I might nonetheless love them.”
And what does he consider the man who walks into the espresso store and has already paid for his drink with a smartphone app?
“You are able to do that?”
Within the class he’ll be instructing at Common Meeting, Valeri will spotlight his experiences and recommendation for coping with 4 principal aspects of flip phone life: transportation, navigation, communication and leisure.
Navigation is by far the main reply when he asks pals what one factor they may not live without on their smartphones. They will’t think about not having GPS or maps to get wherever, particularly in a new metropolis.
“I went to Korea without a smartphone and I bought misplaced continually and I had a little [paper] map and I might attempt to discuss to folks and they’d level and I simply thought it was enjoyable,” he stated. “I knew nothing horrible was going to occur. You would possibly get misplaced and you know, that’s OK. It’s OK to be flawed.”
He hopes individuals who take his class merely be taught that it is actually attainable to disconnect from know-how the way in which he has. Life will go on, and perhaps even be extra rewarding in some methods.
“You gained’t die. I’m right here. I’m not useless,” he stated.
(*13*)“Swipeless in Seattle” will happen Jan. 30 from 6-8 p.m. at Common Meeting, 1218 Third Ave., in Seattle. Tickets are free.