😱 How to survive in Seattle without a smartphone
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😱 How to survive in Seattle without a smartphone

SO OLD SCHOOL. We asked Michael to send us a selfie from his flip phone, but that couldn’t happen because a) no front-facing camera and b) no data plan. So here’s a smartphone photo of a flip phone photo of Michael. 😎
(📸: Mónica Guzmán)


Meet Michael Valeri, a 28-year-old Seattle techie who doesn’t own a smartphone. There are funny stories he tells about this. Like the time when:

  • …he needed his dad’s help to understand a text. His flip phone can’t read some emojis, so when the response on an important text thread came back as a blank square, he forwarded it to his dad, who does own a smartphone. It was a 👍.
  • …he interviewed for a job at Apple and the recruiter asked him if he used Android or iOS. Michael slid his flip phone across the table, and the recruiter’s eyes went wide. This was a first. When the recruiter asked him why, Michael was feeling smug. “I think different,” he said.
  • …he switched from Verizon to AT&T because Verizon refused to upgrade him to anything other than a smartphone. He told them they lost a customer, walked across the way to the AT&T store in Pacific Place, and bought his Cingular Flip 2. He has no data plan and pays $25 a month.

Michael stuck googly eyes on his phone last week. To him, this is all very comical. “I knew that if I ever got interviewed for how to live without a smartphone,” he told us, “we’ve gone too far.”

We had so many questions. And if you have your own, you can check out the free two-hour class he’s giving at General Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 30. It’s not a moral tirade against the addictiveness of mobile devices. Rather, it’s a how-to for getting around this high-tech city without the pocket-sized supercomputers owned by 83 percent of city dwellers and 94 percent of Americans age 18-29.

What’s on the syllabus? Everything from how to navigate the city using just the clues embedded in street names to how to express your opinion publicly without social media. It’ll also feature a chat with Iulia Bejan of the Connect Lounge in Belltown — a place where people come in, get comfortable, and leave their phones in a box.

Now back to those questions:

Has Michael ever owned a smartphone? Yes, when he worked at Expedia and they gave him one. He gave it back three months later.

How did he avoid getting one in the first place? He chalks it up to being busy in college and with life in general. “I just never thought it was necessary.”

You say he’s in tech? Yeah. He’s a data analyst, which gives some context to why he doesn’t crave a presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. “I decided that I didn’t want to be part of that data model,” he said.

Any other weird responses at job interviews? People take pictures of his flip phone. “Just ‘cause it’s super bizarre.”

How does he get around Seattle without any digital maps or apps? He rides an e-bike and is OK with getting lost. He looks up new places he’s going on his computer, asks people for directions, and even writes down navigation steps on a piece of paper.

What’s it like for him to see a smartphone in everyone’s hand all the time? “I feel like Brendan Fraser from Blast from the Past. Like I came out of the vault and looked around saying, ‘What’s going on?’”

As for the smartphone itself, “It looks like a limb. Like it’s vital for your survival and absolutely critical,” Michael said. “People will come to class and what they will learn about how to live without a smartphone is that people are at the center of solving that problem.”

Now let’s help you make some (more) plans…

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🎶  Learn Sub Pop Records’ story at this book reading (Capitol Hill)
👋  Meet up with other writers of African descent (Seward Park)
💡  Listen to a podcast about environmental justice in Seattle (Capitol Hill)
💪  Learn how to meditate at this workshop series (SoDo) — thanks for the tip, Robert Long! 🆕


👋  Check out this trivia based on Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” music video (Beacon Hill)
🗣  Workshop your writing at this literary open mic (Capitol Hill)
👋  Drop in for an evening of speed friending at this Evergrey partner event (Belltown)


🍿  See the highlights of the Sundance Film Festival — through Friday (Capitol Hill)
💡  Learn what Seattle’s public art says about our city (South Lake Union)
💡  Drop by a talk about how virtual reality may influence art (Capitol Hill)
💪  Learn how to build accountability at work at this Evergrey partner event (Pioneer Square)

🍸  Book a babysitter so you can check out the aquarium after hours (Downtown)
💪  Learn how to make a terrarium over beers (Ballard)
💡  Hear what it’s like to be Jewish in the Trump era from a New York Times editor  (Mercer Island)
👋  Get campy at drag bingo (Belltown)
🍻  Sip a pint of ale and see something magical (Ballard)

🎈  Take a long walk on the beach and meet neat sea critters (West Seattle)
🎟  Give a standing ovation at the Seattle International Dance Festival performances — through Jan. 26 (Capitol Hill)
👋  Honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy (Central District)
💡  Learn about the history of houseplants at this scientist’s talk (Capitol Hill)

🗣  Take to the streets for the 2019 Seattle Womxn’s March and learn next steps for organizing — through Jan. 21 (Capitol Hill)
🎟  Fall in love with Shakespeare at “All’s Well That Ends Well” — through Feb. 3 (Seattle Center)
🎟  Wear your best disguise to this detective murder mystery dinner — through Mar. 30 (Downtown)
🎈  Nerd out over model trains with the fam — through Sunday (Puyallup)

🎟  Spend a day at the opera with “Il Travatore” — through Jan. 26 (Queen Anne)
🎟  Make your home vision board at this remodeling expo (Downtown)
🎈  Take the family to see Mary Poppins on stage (Mercer Island)
🎈  Bring your little ones to “eek!” and geek out over reptiles (Puyallup)

Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #theevergrey on Instagram. Learn what our emojis mean hereIs an event sold out? Hit reply to let us know and we’ll update the listing in tomorrow’s newsletter.


Things to do

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See you tomorrow, all. — The Evergrey

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