There’s one in every group: The one who needs you to send them a screenshot because they’ve deleted Instagram this week. The one who has the group chat on mute. The one who is always waiting for a way to work their low weekly screen time average into the conversation. Despite their master’s degree in Humble Bragging, you still love them. And since they haven’t acted on their dream of living off the grid just yet, they’re on your holiday shopping list once again.
But just like the rest of us who enjoy the luxuries of the plugged-in world (I’ll trade my attention span for being able to stream Cher anywhere I go, thanks.), these friends enjoy fun things, too. From dumbphones and DIY radios to yodeling pickles and meditation pebbles, these gadgets meet the tech-weary at their level.
A return to simpler, less-smart times
It’s time that you really commit to your threat of disavowing social media. Instead of just deleting your apps or your accounts, take the plunge and downgrade to a dumbphone that’s almost incapable of doing anything besides texting or calling. The Nokia 225 is applauded as one of the best dumbphones because it minimizes distractions, but still has LTE Voice and Bluetooth capability (and a basic browser, if you really, really need one to Google a quick answer).
Pretend your studio apartment is a cozy cabin
This lantern looks like it’s made for forgotten outposts that are still heated with kerosene, but don’t be fooled: Its designers know that you actually live in Brooklyn and will be using it to play music from your smartphone. Yep, it’s secretly a speaker.
Stuck in the Stone Age
Upgrade from your healing crystals (sorry, amethyst) and get yourself a pebble that’s of the modern age. This may look like an ordinary rock with a too-high price point, but it uses LED lights to synchronize your breathing and coach you through mindfulness meditations.
Prescribed for the chronically nostalgic
Why post on Instagram when you can create your own personalized reel of your camping pictures and force your friends to look at them this way? When they get bored of seeing you in your sixth national park, they’ll at least have fun playing with one of the greatest gadgets of yore.
For the DIY’er
Don’t trust big tech? Yeah, man, “Alexa” isn’t welcome around here, and neither is her buddy “Siri.” Could be time to build your own Bluetooth speaker. This nifty kit gives you everything you need, takes less than an hour to assemble, and might just inspire you to pull a Steve Jobs and start the next omnipresent tech company from your humble garage.
Forget mining for Bitcoin—search your couch cushions and coat pockets for pennies and dimes. Some may say they’re obsolete, but they haven’t experienced a coin-counting jar that lets them watch their money add up, cent by measly cent. You can save up to buy a six-pack!
Yes, you can still make cassettes
Behold the cassette tape recorder, resurrected from the dead. Now you can finally make old-school mixtapes again. Sure, your friends may not have a way to play them anymore, but that’s on them to fix.
Help Grandma remember her email password
Whether you’re the grandchild who’s been given the responsibility of remembering the Netflix password—or you, too, struggle to retain a combination of eight characters, digits, and symbols in your memory—this simple notebook helps out the technologically forgetful.
When the cloud has crossed you for the last time
As someone who never backs up my phone, I’ve been done wrong by the cloud many a time. Rather than risk your photos being lost to the digital void, take a lesson from the 80s and invest in a Polaroid. Plus, it will make instantly make you look like a working artist who lives in a big, sun-drenched loft!
If you go like to go all morning without your phone
Relishing the feeling of being inaccessible is all fun and games until emergency strikes and you need to place an order on UberEats. Instead of accepting that your phone’s lost in the abyss of your apartment, use Tile—which tracks your most important and easy-to-lose personal belongings—to help you find it.
Human innovation at its finest
Plastic yodeling pickles have no practical uses. But how else will you entertain yourself once you’ve deleted TikTok? If you’re not convinced, just listen to the product description: “Are you sick and tired of trying to convince a jar of pickles to yodel using melodious mind bullets and sheer force of will? So were we.” Need we say more?
Reconnect with the land… line
Keep landlines from going extinct! Install a vintage rotary dial phone and see if you can remember any phone numbers besides your mother’s off the top of your head. (Bonus points if you can still remember your childhood best friend’s home phone, too.) This restored one on Etsy can convert to Bluetooth if you choose the convertor option (+$90), and happy reviewers say “the Bluetooth is flawless.”
Slide into their PO Box
If your friends want to keep in touch with you, they’re going to have to get through snail mail first. You can tend to your correspondences while you draft chapters of the next great American novel.
Enjoy! [Hurls iPhone into the abyss.]