The Brooklyn-based startup Light declared war against the mobile app market. Its co-founders Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang resolved to overthrow the smartphone addiction caused by mobile games and social networks and launched Light Phone in 2014. This device only included a handful of options, such as calling and showing the time, and was designed to pair with a smartphone. Light Phone uses its owner’s primary number, thus allowing users to take a break from technology while staying in touch. It is argued that its future iteration, Light Phone 2, will replace smartphones altogether, yet it isn’t functional enough to conquer the hearts of progressive millennials.
Light is raising funds for this potentially life-changing project to come into being by April 2019. Along with its campaign, the company shared a preview of what tools Light Phone 2 will include. Light guaranteed that it would include essentials such as messaging, calls, an alarm, auto-reply and possibly Bluetooth, but refused to add social media, advertising, news and even email. In fact, Hollier and Tang aim to design a phone that will be used as little as possible. According to the proposed Light Phone 2 layout, it will take up minimal space in its users lives — literally speaking, as it will be about the size of a credit card.
Minimalism doesn’t make Light revolutionary; however, its opposition to time-killer apps that have subordinated mankind does. How often do you catch yourself aimlessly scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed? The average American smartphone user spends up to five hours per day on their phone and uses at least nine apps, according to data released in 2017. These numbers are alarming, considering that cell phone addiction is in essence similar to drug and alcohol addiction in that every notification that pops up on our phone’s screen: a text message, an update, a new like or comment, triggers a dopamine rush in the user’s brain. The more we use our electronic devices, the more we get hooked. Moreover, we must increase our digital dose to maintain the same level of satisfaction over an extended period of time.
Not all mobile app junkies are oblivious of their addiction, but their smartphones won’t let them recover. Light Phone 2 is designed to help them get their lives back. Yet, it won’t fulfill the task of reconnecting millennials with the real world. In the offline world, we are expected to conform to the standards of the social environment we live in to fit in. Social networks, by contrast, can be spaces of unprecedented freedom. Not only does the digital sphere make interpersonal connection seem easier, it can also allow users to express themselves. There, the bullied can find moral support, the shy can acquire more confidence and the ancient coins collectors will meet like minded individuals.
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