The following is the full transcript of Canadian inventor and entrepreneur, Ann Makosinski’s TEDx Talk titled “Why I Don’t Use A Smart Phone” at TEDxTeen conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Why I Don’t Use A Smart Phone by Ann Makosinski at TEDxTeen
The last time that I used a flip-phone was 3 hours and 24 minutes ago. This is my phone. It flips open like so. A lot of people might call this flip phone design an old phone which is what someone at the airport security called it. I was like no, I just bought this. I just got my first phone ever this September, which was four months ago, when I had to get a phone because I was going off to college, and I needed to make long distance calls.
Let’s just get this straight for a minute. I’m 18 years old and I’ve never had a phone and I’ve been very privileged to live on the beautiful island of Victoria, of Vancouver Island where everyone there basically has phones. And that means I lived through all of high school and middle school without a phone.
Carrying around a flip phone is not conventionally considered nowadays as being a cool kid. But I’m here to tell you today that carrying a flip phone at the age of 18 definitely defines you as the cool kid.
So my name is Ann Makosinski. I’m 18 years old. I’m from Canada. And I suppose you could call me an inventor, and it’s actually funny because when I was a kid, I actually identified with the term differentist which was something that I made up, which is where I just wanted to be different. And even though it may not appear that I am a differentist nowadays, just like everyone else, I talk like everyone else, I was actually almost in a way trained from the get go to be different.
So how was I trained from — I guess you could say — trained to be different as a kid was that my parents never gave me that many toys at all. I didn’t have a Tamagotchi, a Nintendo or Wii and Xbox, nothing. What they gave me, however, was a hot glue gun and I had to make my own toys. And that’s where the first area of me almost being put in a position, or almost forced to be in a position where I had to be creative in solving one of the first problems you ever have as a kid, which is how to keep yourself entertained.
[Video: This invention was my second invention. And it is called [curation]. The one I just showed you is called invention. Because that’s the first one I made. Now this one – you see this flag one. It’s post, so he can sit down on him. Or I can sit down on him. Curation, but I don’t sit very long, because he can break.]
So that was my first experience with creating things, and other than not being given that many toys, some toys that I were given were a bit odd compared to my friends’ toys that they got. And actually here’s a photo of me playing with my first set of toys, which was a box of transistors and electronic components. And it was really from the start here that I was introduced to the world of making things with my hands, which I feel is a skill that’s almost being lost in some areas nowadays, and it’s actually becoming like quite high in demand for jobs if you can actually like do things instead of typing all the time, just saying.
So, yes, I was always making things and being engaged. And as a kid, I wasn’t allowed out very much on play this or things like that until I had finished all my chores and practiced my piano, I’m sure lots of you can relate. My parents came from very different backgrounds, one was from Poland, another from the Philippines. And it’s funny because a lot of parents come up to me and they’re genuinely very concerned on whether they should give their kids toys or not. What I generally advise, not that I’m an expert, is that if – as long as you don’t give your kids this many toys, I think you’ll be okay. But what I found was that creativity for me and making things was born out of a necessity because I didn’t have that many things to play with. And I really think it’s important to encourage your kids, because I know as parents you want to give your kids the world. You want to give them everything you have.
My dad was a skateboarder back in the day. And when I was, I think, 13 or 14, I was like, oh, well, I want to learn how to skateboard and be cool. And I was just given a skateboard, and it is still sitting in my room in the corner. And I have never touched it.
And what happened was I would just like, oh cool, I would skateboard. I can skateboard now. I just love it. If I had been given, for example, just the wheels and then I had to get a little job and work for it or do tours around the house, get in the lounge, save up, design the board and then put it all together, I would have valued that whole experience so much more that I would actually probably be like a pro skateboarder by now or something like that.
So I think it’s really important when you are in your younger years for people to encourage you on your passions but not to give you everything to give you that head start, because I wasn’t given many toys. I got entertained by almost like anything. I think I am like smelling a rock here, like I was pretty insightful kid. And I have to be honest with you and say that I’m not very culturally educated in some aspects. For example, I was brought up watching a lot of 1920s and ‘30s films. I’ve never watched Star Wars or Star Trek, like don’t kill me, it’s just not something that I watch. For reason, this fact of also just not having a phone as a teenager limited my time talking with people but I never felt that I had – I never felt like oh my god, I’m missing out by not having a phone. And some teenagers hear me know, it’s called FoMO which is fear of missing out. And I never had that because I was so content with what I was given and how much more I had to pursue.
So what did I do in my spare time? Well, when I was in middle school, I was definitely not what you would consider a cool kid. You know, I was not the person you’d be like oh my god, I so want to hang out with them. Because well, first of all, in middle school and high school you’re really judged a lot, and I was very unconfident at first of how I appeared. I had short hair, glasses, braces, or [just in guys] clothes, and I didn’t have the coolest stuff, and people would come up to me and they’d be like, oh, what a handsome boy you are and I’d be like, thanks, and I’d just like walk away.
So I was definitely quite a loner but I did look up to some people in my life and while a lot of teens had modern like pop stars or actresses and actors they looked up to which I totally respected and I have some too, who I looked up to is a little different. And I couldn’t always relate with them. So for example, my family has the privilege of helping out with the Ravi Shankar archives. And so Ravi Shankar was a musician who brought the whole Indian culture and music from the East to the West in the ‘60s and ‘70s and really helped generate the hippie movement, and he worked for George Harrison.