Defending Dumbphones

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Defending Dumbphones by Stuart McMillen comic about not owning a smartphone. Frank Zappa Hot Rats album cover parody. Cartoon man crawling out of a grave holding a phone.
I don't own a smartphone. This is intentional. My 'dumbphone' makes calls, does SMS, and that’s it. Cartoon hand holding Motorola Razr phone.
Cartoon closeup of hand putting phone into hip pocket. People wonder whether I do this because I hate the internet. But no, the reason I do this is because I love the web too much.
Internet addiction cartoon - man at desk. My problem is that I can get lost on the web. Caught in habit-loops of checking and re-checking. Compulsively searching Wikipedia to
Black and white cartoon of man at computer desk using keyboard. After many lost hours, many lost days, I saw that it is wise for me to keep the web at arm's length.
My new strategy is to only access the web from my computer at home, and to only access the web from my computer in the office after 4pm. These are my only two points of web access. So for the rest of the time, away from those two nodes, I am on an internet-free 'spacewalk'.
Young male looking at mobile phone suspiciously. I reject the notion that we should automatically adopt a new technology, simply because it is new. It is false to assume that new technologies only add to our lives, without subtracting anything. Technology gives us gifts, but there is always a trade-off. There is always a subtraction.
Shady downtown street scene cartoon. Lamp posts, traffic, office towers. Binoculars allow a viewer to see far further than usual, …
Man being pickpocketed by another man with hoodie cartoon. ...but the binoculars blind the user to their immediate surroundings.
To me, the web is like a pair of binoculars. It is a tool that allows us to see far, ...
Cartoon man pulling woman out of danger. Phone zombie about to step into traffic. ...but it is a tool that we must use sparingly, to prevent us from becoming blind to our surroundings.
Dramatic angle of young man with phone. I feel that instead of automatically, thoughtlessly, adopting all new technologies, we should do so as a conscious choice. A choice that fully assesses all of the advantages, and all of the disadvantages of adoption.
Yeah, yeah, yeah - don't bother trying to explain all of the reasons why I should upgrade to a smartphone. You're the tenth person who's tried to have that discussion with me today.
Cartoon illustration of hand holding a phone, showing the screen. I'm aware of what I'm missing by not having a smartphone.
Blurry black and white cartoon of landscape looking over city from hill lookout.
But I'm also aware of what I'm seeing by keeping the web at arm's length from my mind.
Detailed cartoon scene of city skyscrapers at night, viewed from hilltop with flying foxes flying through air above city, with moon in the background.
Detailed cartoon scene of city skyscrapers at night, viewed from hilltop with flying foxes flying through air above city, with moon in the background.Detailed cartoon scene of city skyscrapers at night, viewed from hilltop with flying foxes flying through air above city, with moon in the background.

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Comic about choosing not to own a smartphone, and to still use a ‘dumbphone’. My dumbphone limits the time that I am connected to the internet and web.

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Ian McCall

28 February 2019

Hi Stuart, i was very impressed with your Youtube video about the various graphic novels. Then i looked at your website and saw your great comic work. I am a member of the Australian Cartoonists Association. I was reminded by a recent visit to see the guy that took a huge exhibition of Australian Zines around Queensland. One thing that really stood out was the fact that these personal comics tell deep personal stories through the comic. In the main cities and States people blend to similar types however in the remote areas of Queensland, many people who suffered issues such as loneliness, being gay, or just different are lost when they live in the remote bush. However when they saw these very personal comics they realised that there were real people just like them. Visual comics are a fantastic way to connect. Keep up the great work Ian


26 November 2018

Hey Stu thanks for the comics, long time fan! Look into "Shrinking the Technosphere. Getting a grip on the technologies that limit our autonomy, self-sufficiency and freedom" by Dmitry Orlov

Pete Zaparti

4 May 2018

Great article/comic. I kept a dumb for many years, but finally switched to a smart phone. I'm rather cheap though, so I only use the phone like a dumb phone. I use a carrier which allows me to buy minutes. Those minutes cost me about $0.05 each. My monthly phone bill is well under $10. The phone has no online capability unless I connect it to wifi. I find it handy to have the larger screen, and some apps like a decent scientific calculator on it, and GPS when/if it is needed (with offline maps). A smart phone is much easier to use/navigate, and allows me to carry a single item. Is there a term for a smart phone which is not online?

Millet Pascal

12 August 2017

Hi, I am your french translator. I agree with your fear of smartphones. However personnally I have a smart phone BUT use it very sparingly (No Facebook, mails and so on, I use Internet on the phone once per week) but I enjoy when needed maps or google search and mails when I am abroad. Cheers Pascal

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