Let’s not be too dramatic here. I went a little over a month without a smart phone. But it was a worthwhile experience to really drive home how much I depend on it for certain things, and also, how freeing it is to be digitally disconnected.
I dug out an old flip phone the bf and I kept for emergencies after dropping my smartphone for the last time *sniff*. So I had that, but I was paying for minutes, so I didn’t give out the number like free candy (not that I would just give out any candy I happen to come by). I mainly had it for emergencies, and though it had ‘internet capabilities’, let’s just say it didn’t know what to do with itself if I clicked that little world wide web button.
I took the phone with me on my trip to World Horror Con in Atlanta, GA, which was literally on the other side of the US from home for me. During that time, the few days before the trip, and the weeks after that when I only had that flip phone, these were the things I missed the most about my smartphone:
- Being able to have the internet at the touch of a screen–not a button (my hands got so cramped texting my roomies during the con on that tiny little keypad). For instance, if I wanted to check something during the conference, like look at details on my website about the manuscript I planned to pitch, I had to go all the way back up to my room and haul out my laptop.
- Being able to have a camera that was better than most digital cameras. I brought a digital camera along to the con that I didn’t use much.
- I forget things. A lot. So for one month, I gravely missed my digital calendar and the ability to take notes when I didn’t have any scraps of paper handy (which is surprisingly not that often, though it’s still nice to have all my ideas, lists and notes in one, non-physical place).
- Feeling connected. In certain areas, my little flip phone deaded out, and I would see texts hours later from my bf back home or my roomies letting me know where they’d be. There was a lot of running around the conference, assuming I’d see them at this panel or that reading, or that we’d just find each other after.
The things I didn’t miss so much:
- With a smartphone, one is infinitely more distracted from day-to-day life. I feel like I experienced things more fully without one. For instance, travel to the conference was my first time on a plane. Every time before take off or when we landed, people were pulling their phones out, turning airplane mode off, checking what they missed, and immediately reconnecting themselves with the technological world. Without that distraction, I was able to absorb more of the first-time experience, enjoy my surroundings, smile at the child throwing the fit rather than groan, and talk to my fellow passengers (those that were willing to of course) rather than being buried in my phone. Also, because I wasn’t distracted by my phone, I got a great head start on one of my freebie books from the conference, Within These Walls.
- During the conference, not having my phone kept me from constantly checking and updating social media. I was experiencing rather than spending lost minutes and hours sifting through Twitter and Facebook feeds. They are serious time-suckers unless you plan to only allot yourself so much time for surfing. And one thing I hate doing is wasting time. Especially when it’s against my will. Funny cat videos and celebrity gossip be damned!
- This one directly opposes my last reason for missing my phone, but I liked not feeling connected sometimes. Before and after the conference, when I would just be sitting around at home, usually trying to talk myself into writing, I felt a huge weight off my shoulders without the threat of my phone ringing with a call or text. It sounds horrible, like I don’t want to talk to my family or friends, but just as much as I can be an extrovert, I am also a huge introvert. I use my time off work to recharge and do my second job, which is writing. So unless I’ve planned to speak with or see someone, I sometimes feel caught off guard or exposed when anyone breaks through.
This experience showed me that it’s easy to become dependent on technology, specifically smartphones, and that sometimes, a brief reprieve is exactly what we need to recharge our minds and focus. Has there ever been a time you found yourself bereft of smartphone technology or access to a particular app (for instance, my bf cut Facebook out of his life and was much happier for it)? Were you miserable or did it relieve a little tension in your shoulders?