Week Without A Phone

A week Without a Phone

Last week, I went on a week-long business trip. And I forgot my phone. Packing up 3 kids for a long vacation: no problem, but put me on my own and I’ll forget something obvious! I decided to survive the week without it. Here’s what I learned:

People are Addicted to Phones:

When I told people I had forgotten my phone, most of the responses were:

  • “Have your husband overnight it to your hotel!” (My response: “From Alaska?! I could get a much nicer phone for the same price!”)
  • “There’s no way you can go a week without something as important as your phone.”
  • “I couldn’t do it.”
  • Even my boss on the third morning was late to the office, walked in and said: “Did you get my text? oh…” and then added something about how impossible it must be to function without it.

I also sat in the airport and people-watched for the first time in a long time. And guess what? PEOPLE ARE BORING – they’re all on their phones! They’re holding hands looking at their phones. They’re sitting at tables with people… looking at their phones. They’re eating and phoning (new word). They’re walking and phoning. The most entertaining game became to predict collisions. Surprisingly, I saw none because we’re so good at phoning, we no longer have to look up to not hit each other!

Phones are Provide Security and Connection:

This whole experience would have been different if I had been with Mr. T and my kids. As I was alone, I had exactly two moments of panic:

  1. When I got to the airport and realized I was getting to fly on the Disneyland plane (complete with Mickey and Goofy and everyone painted all over it!). Our kids are aware of said plane. We point it out. They’ve seen it, but they’ve never gotten to ride on it. I went to pull out my phone to take a picture for the kids and it wasn’t there! My initial panic was about leaving my family with no way to text or call them while I was away (unless on WiFi on my computer). And without a phone, I did feel even more disconnected from them. I didn’t talk to my husband as much. I didn’t text my kids any pictures. 
  2. The second moment of panic occurred after I arrived at the airport at 12:30am. I rented a car and ended up in the city center… of the wrong city. But, I was alone and without a phone… so I had to just drive around until I found the right freeway. I certainly didn’t want to stop and ask for directions at 1AM on a Tuesday morning! But I did make it safely to the hotel around 1:30. 

Again, if I had been with my family, it would have meant more phone-less quality time with them. As it was, I had LESS of a connection with my family and found myself in scary situations I don’t usually think are scary.

Also, it was my birthday while I was gone (without a phone, in case you forgot) and it felt like nobody cared. Because how do people tell you they care when they aren’t with you? They call. They text. They Facebook. They email. Without a phone, when I was away from my computer, I got none of those messages.

It was Freeing in Some ways

I expected to have a life-changing phone-free week where I changed all of my habits, but in reality, phones are very useful. I did actually have to stop and ask directions to Trader Joe’s when I got lost (during the daytime in a safe neighborhood). I even managed to pick my sister up at the airport without texting back and forth. The things I did discover without it:

  • I never lost my phone! I am always losing that thing and looking for it. I didn’t have to. I knew it was gone already!
  • I didn’t have a phone to grab when I got bored. I had to think.
  • I had an excuse to not answer anyone about anything. “Left my phone at home for a week, sorry.”

Conclusion:

Phones are useful. My smartphone helps me get work done, respond to email and messages quickly, and gives me resources when I am lost or have a question. I don’t plan to go phone-free. I was happy to see I really wasn’t that addicted to my phone. The only times I reached for it were when I was alone and bored, but overall, I had no phoning cravings. So what have I learned? I can fill my interim time with something better. When I go to grab my phone to entertain me, I can actually think instead.

Could you go phone-free by yourself for a week?

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18 Comments

  1. That actually sounds like fun! To be fair, I haven’t had the ringer turned on, on my phone, in over 3 years now. I walk in the door and set it on the counter, charging area, wherever and then find it before bed since it’s my alarm. That’s why I suck so badly at Twitter, lol. Even at work, it just stays in my pocket or on my desk, but rarely gets looked at.

    I would miss the pictures and not being able to talk to Mrs. SSC and the kids, but I’d probably remember my ipad, so we could facetime at the very least. It is interesting just people watching at the airport. Another reason I like to get there early and find a good seat with a beer and just watch people. Also, with 2 kids at home, whenever I solo travel, it’s so appreciated just to have some down time. 🙂

    As far as birthday wishes being silent, try turning off your b-day notification in Facebook. In the 3 years I’ve had it off, I’ve gotten 2 b-day wishes from non-family, and usually just if one of them posts something to my wall instead of text/call me. It’s been an interesting experiment. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      My phone only sometimes gives me notifications (it’s pretty crappy), so I’m pretty disinterested in it as well. Most of the time, I lose it anyway! 🙂

  2. I think I could do it, but it would be tough! Way to go for making it through the week. And it is sad how much they have become a part of our everyday lives.

  3. I think that’s sounds wonderfully freeing! I’ve slowly eliminated a lot of the phone calls and some of the social media out of my life and that’s made a tremendous difference in my quality of life. I’m with you that I don’t think I could completely get rid of it, but that’s definitely a good exercise to try (even though your wasn’t on purpose!).

    — Jim

  4. Generally I could if I had to, other than the child and family related things because PiC and I coordinate lots of things by text or by email, but outside of that, I can if I really must. I do make it a point not to spend all my alone time on the phone when I notice that I’m reverting to it too much. Pull out a book, sit on the ground with Seamus for a while or something just actively not checking stuff on my phone. Oftentimes, I’m doing work of some sort on it so I lose track of frequent phone checks sometimes but that’s also what pen and paper can be for!

    I do hate getting lost, though, that’s where it’s a bit of a crutch.

    Happy belated birthday!

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s a total crutch when I get lost! And I’m trying to be more detached during times with family as well.

  5. It’s makes me wonder what people do before having a cellphone. Oh right, people actually make plans and show up on time!

    I forget my phone here and there and managed to survive. It’s all in your head.

  6. The Green Swan

    What an experience! I literally laughed out loud about overnighting it from Alaska… So why didn’t you buy a new phone :)!

  7. Sounds like you made the best of it and learned a lot. I don’t have a smart phone, and part of the reason I hold out while I still can is because they do seem to make people boring. There’s not much to look at on my phone, and I sometimes don’t respond to texts quickly because I’m not glued to the thing. Though I try to be available for babysitters to contact me. During a camping vacation last year I realized at the end of the week that I did not use the internet at all the entire time. And I didn’t even realize it! That was kinda cool. I did benefit from others getting directions and whatnot on their phones, but no email, social media, or even blogging for me that week. It was awesome. And I only called/texted people that I was camping with if necessary for meeting up.

    • MaggieBanks

      When I’m with family, I’m constantly losing my phone and not caring until bedtime when I go: “Oh yeah, where is that thing?” But when directions are needed, it’s especially nice to have a smart phone!

  8. I feel the same about my phone. When I don’t have it I miss it, because of all the reading I can do on it, but when I do have it I’d like to put it away at times because it makes me sort of anxious having to pay attention to all the sounds it makes (hahaha). Earlier this summer I hiked the Inca Trail and had no reception for four days. To be honest, I did not miss it one bit. With all the vistas around me, who would. I only felt bad about not being able to speak to my wife, who stayed home because we are expecting our first kiddo.

    It’s both comical and sad that people today are so tethered to their phones. It’s like the matrix, but with phones. With their prevalence consumerism is only bound to get worse, since now they can advertise to you even in the toilet.

    • MaggieBanks

      I never thought about the constant advertisements. “Yes! Finally a way to get the consumer to purchase on the toilet!”

  9. How blissful! I could totally do it. I have a VERY old iPhone, and I’m not in a hurry to upgrade. I’ve thought about it, I’ve looked into it, but in the end…it’s not worth it. And boy howdy are you right about people being boring. I know that people reach for their phones when they’re bored, but how are they SO BORED in the company of others? It’s frightening.

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