As a kid, I was savvy enough to flash video game consoles and complete basic cell phone repairs like battery and screen swaps. If there was a guide on the Internet, I could usually figure out how to do it. Over the last decade and a half, I've owned different types of cell phones ranging from simple feature phones to early smartphones. As a teenager, I checked my voicemail on a LG flip phones. Throughout young adulthood, while my peers rocked their iPhones, I stood out with devices like the Amazon Fire Phone and Blackberry Classic. I miss the days of physical keyboards on cell phones! Staying in touch with people was funner with chain texts on 3G networks, not like modern 5G smartphones that are designed to flood us with information and distract us with their huge touch screens and accompanying addictive software ecosystems that trap us in doom scrolls and content binges. With the spotlight finally being pointed at Meta and Google for ruining our lives and privatizing our means of communication, along with a growing awareness of the detrimental effects of smartphones and social media on my own well-being, I decided to downgrade from my iPhone.

I was eyeing a Nokia feature phone for months before the homie reminded me of the Titan Pocket in a conversation about my desire to go back to a phone with a physical keyboard. I came across the Titan Pocket in my early research for a new phone and decided against it when I learned it ran Android because I thought I was going to give up smartphones all together. Out of nostalgia for a physical keyboard and a desire to flash a custom OS, I ended up buying the phone and porting my number from AT&T over to T-Mobile last weekend. My fingers are typing this on a sturdy QWERTY keyboard as I lie in bed praying for youth and families in Haiti, Sudan, Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Ukraine. It's a welcomed reprieve from my attention-hoarding iPhone 12 mini that has been slowly driven me insane. I've rooted and unlocked it, paving the way for an eventual flash of LineageOS, from which I'm taking a break because SP Flash Tool keeps giving me a floating point exception error. I'm accessing my blog in outer space through Fennec, a fork of Firefox on the FOSS app store, F-droid.

My Titan Pocket is complete with a retro 16mp camera that's perfect for scanning qr codes. Its physical keyboard and 3.1 inch screen are a breath of fresh air in a world where giant touchscreens shorten our attention spans, addicting us and driving increased rates of mental illness in the masses, particularly men. The proliferation of giant smartphones and pervasive social media corporations have destroyed relationships and its at the root of the current dating crisis. Technology should be used to bring people together and augment the human experience, not drive people apart. Communication lies at the heart of our relationships with one another, romantic or otherwise. Limiting my exposure to big touch screen phones and getting off of corporate social media are two of the ways I'm intentionally restructuring my life to create space for better relationships with those I love and be a better man. It was liberating to download my data from and finally delete my Facebook account last weekend.

On my new phone, the only social media I have installed so far is Discord, where I can get my One Piece manga scans and interact with developers and tech enthusiasts in a dedicated Unihertz Titan server. As I continue on my learning journey in tech, I want to dedicate my skills to creating safer online spaces for youth and families that don't drive them crazy. I spun up a test Friendica instance on my asteroid recently and managed to get a few close friends and family members on it to evaluate the features. While there are other cool alternatives like Nostr, I think federated social media is going to play a role in community building similar to Discord. I want to help my tribe downgrade their digital lives and heal their relationships with the Internet.

As for my iPhone 12 mini, it will join my old iPhone 6s as an auxiliary communication device that I can use as a remote for my smart TV at home, to iMessage from WiFi, to digitize content with OCR or write with speech to text.