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:
- 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.
- 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.”
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?