Kabambe (n.) - a low-end mobile phone usually without a smartphone operating system i.e. Windows, Android or iOS. Common characteristics of such devices include a flashlight (built-in), non-colour display, hardy casing, small size and numerical keypad.
Synonyms: mulika mwizi, dumbphone
Since losing my smartphone about a month ago and acquiring a kabambe as a replacement, I have began to see things as a young man with a simplified life. In my several day-to-day encounters in various social settings, these are three vital lessons I've learnt having made the switch – which many may view as a downgrade – to a less complex device.
1. Life is about more than the photographs In the age we live in today, every beautiful scene or picturesque view merits the draw of the nearest device. We take so many photographs that we forget to see what we're taking a picture of. I had over 1000 images of places I had been to, several of them taken in motion or at moments that could have been spent looking at what I was shooting.
All the pictures you take and post in your lifetime will never compare to the richness your mind's eye can reproduce when you remember your time in a place, retelling the story with a group of companions who shared in the experience with you.
2. Your phone can never rescue a conversation In the past month I have observed a pervasive phenomenon in conversations within small and large groups of people. Each time silence prevails momentarily, people tend to reach for their phones and pretend to be doing something. Sometimes they are simply passing time by flipping through their homescreens, other times they are busy responding to messages, but each time they are not speaking to each other. Being an owner of a kabambe myself, I have had to learn that speaking is what keeps a conversation going. Even small talk can be engaging if you give it the right nudge, as demonstrated here. However, your smartphone and the next level of Candy Crush will only make you appear like a snob - regardless of the fact that your fellow interlocutor is wiling away on their device too.
3. Our devices can control us, if we let them This may sound like a conspiracy theory, but I assure you that it does not portend artificial intelligence taking over the planet. Instead, it simply suggests that we may have lost ourselves in the digital world in our bid to stay connected. How many times do you check your e-mail in a day? How often do you wake your screen to see if you have any new notifications? Do you often find yourself drifting away from the real world to wonder if you have a new message from someone and if you replied to a dozen others? In several instances I would find myself saying I will put my smartphone away and charge it. But that was always after the next WhatsApp reply and data-munching instagram post, not to mention my Facebook post of the latest Pocket article I just got from my e-mail after reading a tweet five minutes ago. We must learn to not only put our phones out of sight, but out of mind sometimes. Instead of rushing to update our status about how our day was, it may be better to share the story with a friend or colleague next to us and make a conversation out of it.
Technology is a beautiful aid to making this great big world a global village. But in the use of these extensions of our laptops and desktops, are we losing the very fabric of society – the value of face-to-face conversation? From the number of people taking pictures every waking moment instead of living in it, I'm afraid it is possible that the answer to that is a resounding “Yes”. I hope these lessons help you in your fight to stay truly connected, to the people around you and not to your screen.