I feel alone in not wanting a smartphone

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a man in my 20s, and I can’t seem to adapt to living in the information age.

It’s not that I can’t understand how to operate devices or anything like that. Instead, I find myself exhausted by the flood of information, the dangers of social media and reading other people’s anger that I am exposed to just from using a device.

So, I decided not to have a smartphone of my own. The people around me are always surprised when I tell them about my decision. I end up hearing about all the things happening online anyway just by chatting with them.

I also found myself thinking that not having access to digital coupons may not be great for my personal finances, either. Just as I was thinking such things, the pandemic hit and now the digitization of Japanese society has only continued to advance.

I often hear, “it must be great to still be so young,” because I’m still in my 20s, but when I think of living the rest of my life as the minority on this topic in a society that is changing in a way that’s difficult to adapt to, it honestly bothers me.

— N, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Mr. N:

I couldn’t help but feel happy reading your letter. Not just because I have a friendly feeling toward a person who also does not have a smartphone, but because I believe people in the minority are the ones with potential.

Nowadays, most people on trains or at cafes are on their smartphones. However, as you said, there are good and bad points to this. While you can obtain a lot of information online, overuse of one’s phone can lead to you no longer thinking for yourself. It’s scary. For example, if you rely solely on your smartphone to get you somewhere, you won’t remember how to get there yourself. That’s why whenever I see someone reading a newspaper or a book on the train, I feel relieved.

The leaders of the 1868 Meiji Restoration prove this point; that it is those in the minority who can create great change. As you don’t have to depend on your smartphone, I think you are gaining valuable experience in communicating with others in person and learning to retain more knowledge. I think using computers for work should be sufficient.

Japan loves conformity, and peer pressure is so prevalent that many people who have an opinion that conflicts with the majority question themselves. Please continue doing what you’re doing and believe in yourself. I think you will be able to show your individuality one day.

—Akemi Masuda, sports commentator