History teacher who goes back in cell phone time

Flip phone still the go to for Sweeney


Taryn Pearce

Miramonte history teacher Matt Sweeney with his flip phone.

Students walk the halls of Miramonte High School, eyes glued to their iPhones. In the 16 years since the first iPhone came out, it’s become increasingly rare to see anyone without one almost cemented to their hands. IPhones allow people to have everything they could ever need at their fingertips.

Miramonte history teacher Matt Sweeney thinks otherwise. He purchased an iPhone in 2013 for about 24 hours, but quickly realized his grave error and promptly returned it. Though Sweeney does not have an iPhone now, he does operate a flip phone, which only allows him to reach people when necessary. 

“It just kind of seems unnecessary [to have an iPhone], but I can also see how it can be really cool. Like you can have a world of information at your fingertips, but it also seems toxic and addicting,” Sweeney said.

Although Sweeney chooses not to have an iPhone, he does acknowledge that having one would make things more convenient. There have only been two instances in his whole life when he wished he had an iPhone. The first occurred when Sweeney was lost in the backwoods of South Carolina. “I had to pull over to a gas station  (and) with a map on my car trying to find the main highway,” Sweeney said. 

Another instance was when he was trapped in Nebraska. “One time I was stuck in Omaha and this crazy summer thunderstorm came in and completely wiped out the Internet. I hadn’t booked anywhere to stay, so I had to call somebody to help me book a hotel,” Sweeney said. 

He’s had to adapt to living without the comforts that most people take for granted and live off the grid.

While he teaches, Sweeney often asks students to put away their phones. Sweeney believes that the absence of phones allows for a better learning environment. 

“I think they are distracting. It’s kind of tough right now because we are back in school and it’s great to have everybody back on campus. But y’all have been on your devices for a year and a half, so I think it’s important to have human interaction,” Sweeney said.

Students have mixed feelings about not being able to use their phones in Sweeney’s classes. Not all of them appreciate the break from technology, but many agree that phones restrict their learning. However, in terms of not having an iPhone at all, students don’t think they would be able to last without one.

 “I couldn’t live without a phone because I don’t just use it for social media. I use it to stay in contact with my parents and take photos to have as memories,” Miramonte junior Ella Robinson said.

If the prospect of living without an iPhone seems impossible, consider Sweeney. He has been thriving without one for years.