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This Is Why I Downgraded My Smartphone

by Paul R. on January 25th, 2016 in Favorites, Men, Women, Students

blog-smartphonesYou probably wouldn’t know it by looking, but most of the people you encounter today have instant access to just about all the porn ever made. Ask them and they’ll most likely deny it; not because they’re trying to hide it but because they probably aren’t aware. It’s on their smartphone.

Anyone who has a phone made in the past 5 years or so has access to all the porn they could ever dream of. I did too, until I made a decision a few years ago to downgrade my smartphone. (Something that more an more people are doing – Read this)

I found an old Nokia 2310 I had forgotten about and decided to dust it off, plug in the large charger, and give it some time to come out of hibernation. It was a beautiful blue device that allowed me unlimited access to calls, texts, a dim light, and hours of addiction to the game “snake.” It served me well and I actually took some pride in taking it out to check a message that came in 3 parts.

But even better: now there was no way for me to look at or find porn on it. Sure, I couldn’t Google anything, I couldn’t check movie times, and I couldn’t tweet or check email, but I also knew that regardless of anything else I was going to get through the day without looking at porn.

That was a reward worth sacrificing everything else for.

But what I soon realized was that not being able to access porn any time of the day was not going to be the only result of my downgrading my phone.

In some ways, the lack of porn was a good thing as it helped me to heal and recover from some of those old desires for porn. In other ways, though, I discovered that I just tried to find it in other places, like on my laptop and even on a few times, considering going old-school and buying a magazine.

So I still had to be careful, but on the whole, I felt safe and free knowing that a significant avenue to porn had been shut off.

But there were other benefits.

My desire to check social media every 5 seconds began to dwindle, and as a result I began to place my self-worth on healthy relationships with people I loved rather than the number of retweets I’d get. I’d grab a coffee or a drink with a friend, and since I couldn’t check Twitter or reply to emails in the middle of it, my relationships became richer.

I was truly present for the first time in years. I learned to listen better. I found enjoyment when I was unshackled from the urge to go online. I concentrated better and slowly and gradually lost the “need” to be connected 24/7.

When it came to porn, I found that I needed more than filters or software; I needed a break from being online. That was always my Achilles heel and the doorway to searching for porn.

But probably the greatest benefit of downgrading my phone was that I became more connected with myself and started to focus work on inner healing instead of distracting myself by going online or viewing porn. For me, porn and social media were both serving the same purpose: to distract me from the pain I really felt.

I needed to cut off those roads completely for a while so I would have the presence of mind and clarity to reconnect with my purpose and who I was at a deep level.

I honestly had lots of pretty legitimate reasons not to downgrade my phone. I had important emails to reply to and projects that required me to be online. But I had a lot of illegitimate reasons, too. Things I told myself couldn’t wait and were urgent.

My biggest fear was that I would miss something vitally important to my life if I was off the grid. But you know what never happened? Missing something vitally important to my life when I was off the grid.

Emails waited and nothing catastrophic happened. Football games went on as normal, and checking the score every 2 minutes didn’t actually change my team’s performance, believe it or not. In fact I saved myself a lot of unnecessary heartache.

I’ve now owned a smartphone for a year. But that time where I downgraded and didn’t even own a phone for a while has led me to where I am today: where I have access to all the porn in the world but the freedom and ability to say no. That’s what freedom is really about.

Sometimes freedom is found in putting certain restrictions on where we go, what we use, or how much time we spend online. Yet we should view these tools not as behavioral controls that we must obey for the rest of our lives, but as a way to give us time off social media, Google, or porn so that we’re not distracted or suppressing our pain. The pain we must do the work of discovering and healing from, in order to find true freedom.

So put the phone down and stop, breathe, and look around.

You’ll be surprised what you can find, even without GPS. 



  • Seth Alan Taylor

    Such a great read Paul. Interesting as my book has been going out there, I am once again looking at my phone so much that I am starting to find it is medicating something. Perhaps some need for affirmation as I watch the tweets and emails and such. Thanks for the balanced perspective man….

    • Paul Robinson

      Yeah interesting point Seth. I started to realize, even if I didn’t categorize it as such at the time, that most of my porn problem was able to be traced back to my social media/internet use. I was definitely looking for validation and eventually I guess when refreshing a million times an hour didn’t produce anything new I went looking for other medications.

  • Sam Lalonde

    This is a great write up Paul, thank you. I found myself relating to a lot of what you wrote, and for me too my only avenue to porn is internet. There’s way too much access around me all the time… and I Also find myself almost automatically checking Facebook all the time, and to be honest I’m a bit tired of it. I will give this some thought, can I ask how long you stayed on the older phone for?

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