Just How Connected Are We To Being Mobile?

What I Learned After Spending 14 Days Without a Smartphone.

Your brain is processing so much activity from so much people at one time. Just stop.

Technology has its upsides and its downsides, and with the speed at which we move through life these days, it’s almost impossible to regulate how dependent we’ve become on technology. It’s frowned up, though, that the current leading generation, The Millenials, has a commensalist relationship with our phones, our tablets, and ultimately the world wide web.

Blah Blah Blah.

But what’s the real reason? Well, the possibility to engage and interact seemlessly without bounds to location, time, age, area makes us almost omniscient and in a constant state of absorbing information, thoughts, and ideas from those who are sharing such thoughts on the what is now thousands of different platforms. So, what sparked my change?

In short, my LG G4 entered into a state that almost all of our favorite tech hardware falls into. The old XBOX 360 had its “red ring of death”, MacBooks have their “Rainbow spin to infinity”, and LG’s G4 has the “Boot Loop” — the endless turning on and off of the phone as a malfunction in the motherboard. Give it up, your phone is finished. When the day it happened came, it was no panic, as I keep a back-up phone at home, but the looming confusion as to how I’d replace a $500 smartphone begged the question of how long. 14 Days. It took me 14 days to replace the phone, but what I’m willing to share is the encompassing impact that not having my phone had — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Courtesy of YouTube.

Well, I’ll be honest. There was much more good than there was bad believe it or not, and now that I’ve seen the difference, it’s changed how I plan to move forward now that I’m back to having my smartphone.

The Good: No, You’re Not Bored — You Have Free Time

Immediately after the phone began boot looping, I ran home to grab what I like to call my “Chirp-Chirp”, or in other instances my “cockroach”. It’s a black Samsung T Series phone — polyphonic ringtones, back lighting, T9 texting, no antenna, no headphone jack, and lastly 3G data. Nothing to write home about (or write home with).

There is literally nothing on the phone, not even the classic snake. I didn’t have phone numbers, no email, no GPS, no web (there was web, but the screen was 2 inches and it ran on 3G). There was no opportunity to seek refuge in online matters as a means of keeping yourself entertained, engaged, or as is usually the case, distracted.

Instead, I found more head space for clearer thinking. I wasn’t being influenced by tweets, statuses, or online debates. When I had new ideas, I didn’t rush to try to implement them in real-time. In fact, I kept my thoughts in a rotation, wrote them down, revisited them, and expounded on them. I wasn’t being force-fed by automated connectivity like Bluetooth in my car, or immediate email sync when I walked into my home network, thus giving me the full-fledged opportunity to wind down when I got home from work.

The Bad: The Extra Steps

Touche! Life can be made easier and simpler, but easy on a Tuesday is hell on a Saturday. Human beings must have some form of circum-navigational instinct — like birds, and whales, or monarch butterflies — because a request to be in Daytona Beach, Fl quickly became an agonizing and anxiety-ridden journey that could have landed me in Hell’s Kitchen if I took the wrong turn.

How did people travel before Google Maps, or GPS? Was I going to have to print out those Mapquest pages and pray the printer didn’t cut off the margins (listen…worst thing ever).

In fact, we’ve become so dependent on “doing our googles” that a simple debate could not be concluded because there was no search point.

I had to ask someone to Google a store’s phone number. Also, has anyone noticed that Google is a proper noun and a verb, and evidently, now a muscle exercise.

The Good: Not Checking For What’s Not Checking For You

This is by far the most beneficial part of the entire experience: peace. It wasn’t until I got my phone back that I realized that we have gotten ahead of ourselves in certain aspects. The laws of matter tell us that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. Think of ideas as that matter (no pun); your priorities and your side thoughts cannot take up space in your mind at the same time. Let’s keep adding though.

Priorities, bills, work, fitness, food, partners, daydreams, thoughts — all generally already in your mind — get accompanied by Twitter rants, Facebook status, a wonder as to why your latest Instagram photo isn’t getting likes, a wonder as to why your battery is dying so fast, concern about data speed, and if you’re an Android user, you’re also concerned with the heat from your phone. That’s just the technicalities.

Then there’s people. Your brain is processing so much activity from so much people at one time. Just stop. Without my phone, I wasn’t concerned anyone who wasn’t making direct contact with me. For the 14 days, it included my Wife, my Mother, Brothers, and 5 friends. By disconnecting myself with that concern, or interest (most people will completely deny the use of both words), I felt relieved of a very heavy load.

The Bad: The Appearance

There is one thing, I cannot deny. I had to tell a story everytime. Boot loop. The Boot Loop description not only got old, but it invited the ear-screeching “iPhone versus Android” conversation, which — let’s admit collectively — should have seen its last days years ago! Pulling out the cockroach, though, worked out to be a plus, though, because when I was in social settings I was completely engaged with the people around me.

All in all, I have my phone back, but more importantly a part of myself as well. I’m a huge advocate now for a few new practices I encourage others to try:

  • Turn your phone off at night. Not when it’s bed time, but when you’re ready to wind down and spend some quality time (whether alone or with that special someone — even if it’s just your cat/dog).
  • Use devices that have alarms that go off even when powered off. Trust me. It’s a blessing.
  • Leave your electronics in a separate room.
  • Do not use your phone, laptop, or tablet while watching TV, or great programming — just enjoy it.

That’s all, folks. I won’t say I’m completely enlightened and awoken, but I was just 7 days from creating an actual habit, and honestly, I’m broken in. I have my phone back, but it’s nowhere near attached to my hip (or grip) like it used to be.

Let’s share thoughts. Tell me about how you’re looking to end the connection to being constantly connected. Connect on Twitter (MistahMarvel), or leave comments below!

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