A great idea whose time has passed?

Jeff Fox
Headed for trouble
Jeff Fox

I wonder if we should all hop on the next big thing before it’s yesterday’s news. 

I’m pretty sure this is not inside information since I read it in the newspaper, so the act of reading this probably won’t make you an accomplice in this plot. 

But I’ve been wrong before. 

It is reliably reported that a new line of products offering simplicity in a world of complexity and chaos Is coming this fall. It’s a new phone with an old idea. 

The pitch is this: It weighs less than three ounces and is the size of a credit card. You can call or text someone. That’s it. 

No apps. No games. No Siri telling you what to do or getting you out of a jam. No Facebook nor Twitter nor TikTok. Nor old-fashioned email. 

It’s in black and white, meaning the experience is as if watching TV in 1963, like a savage.  

These are called minimalist phones, for those who want to mostly unplug from the riot of noise and image, information and poppycock that flows out of the average cell phone.  

The appeal is obvious, and it’s easy to imagine this being very trendy. You can feel your blood pressure dropping just by contemplating the idea. 

But how will you get into a Chiefs game without the ticket app? What will you do with all those hours currently devoted to Minecraft? How will you know what to be outraged about without Facebook to tell you? How do you calculate a tip? Where do the cat videos go? 

There’s often a profit in being smart and counterintuitive, but this is America, where “Is more always better?” isn’t even treated as a serious question any more. 

Cell phones are a great example. Quick. Look at your phone, and count up all the apps for which you don’t even recall a purpose. 

And raise your hand if you’ve had this experience: 

Hey, good to see you. You folks made good time. Did you take Highway X or Z? 

I don’t know. 

You don’t know? 

I did what the thing said. 

Uh, do you know where you are at this exact moment? 

Why? Does that matter? 

This is who we are, friends and neighbors. Take away the landing party’s tricorders, and it’s all stones and sticks. We couldn’t read a map if we had one. 

So I like the idea of the minimalist phone, but it seems like a lonely salmon swimming up a big river. That salmon can do everything right, can swim and swim, can get a mile or two from its destination, and with the mission 99 percent complete can still get eaten by a bear. 

Life's like that. 

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-352-6758, jeff.fox@examiner.net or on Twitter at @FoxEJC.