Confessions From Smartphone Rehab
I lost my iPhone about a month ago. In theory, the most logical solution is going to AT&T to get a new phone, but that wouldn’t work for me. Next month, I’ll be going to Taiwan for year and having a US phone carrier while staying overseas long term would have been a nightmare. It’s much better to just take an unlocked phone and get a local sim card at your destination.
Being phoneless raised the opportunity to do another experiment on myself: see how well I can cope being phoneless. I’ll add that I wasn’t completely detached. I have an iPad, so iPhone users were still able to text me (as long as I had internet connection). Carrying an iPad around would’ve been a pain (plus it only works when connected to WiFi), so it was only used when home.
Here’s what I’ve noticed throughout the month:
I Spent A LOT Of Time On My iPad
Since I was depriving myself of having a smartphone, I spent an insanely large amount of time on my iPad when I was home. Being out and about all day made me miss out on everything going on in the cyber world. Guess you can call it F.O.M.O (fear of missing out). A good percentage of my time home was consisted of checking and responding text messages and scrolling through social media. I actually spent more time on social media now than when I had a phone. One important thing to note: I work from home, so you could imagine how bad the addiction was. This made me realize that it’s not too far fetch to compare smart devices to drugs.
How I Fixed The Problem:
Once I realized my productivity levels were decreasing when I wasn’t working, I decided to find ways to keep me preoccupied while exercising my brain or body:
- Went for evening walks around my neighborhood to catch the sun set
- Played geography games on Sporcle (I’m a geo nerd)
- I enrolled in a free online class on Shaw Academy
- Read [more]
- Wrote in my journal [more]
- Sat and relaxed in solitude
I Became My Own GPS
One benefit of a having a smartphone is that it comes with a built in GPS. Since I (and many others) have become so reliant on this function, many people struggle with reading a map or navigating through foreign areas by themselves without technological assistance. Whenever I drove somewhere new, I had to look up directions the old fashion way (Google Maps or Map Quest). When driving, I had to pay extra close attention to street signs and landmarks that stuck out, so I wouldn’t get lost on my way home.
I Realized How Many People Are Also Addicted To Their Phones
Whenever I went out to go shopping or do errands, I would normally listen to podcast episodes on my phone. Since I was no longer preoccupied by my phone, I’ve become extra observant of my surroundings. While waiting in the cashier lines at stores, I noticed everyone else was looking down on their phones until it was their turn to be ringed up (sometimes they’re still on their phones then). When I went to the gym, I noticed many people on their phones in between sets or while using a cardio machine. When I went for runs around my neighborhood, I noticed other people sitting outside and looking down on their phones. When I was driving, I noticed other people looking down on their phones at the stop lights (and for some while driving).
“It’s called ‘The Web’ because once you’re in it, you’re stuck.”
Houston, We Have A Problem
I knew smartphone addiction was bad, but man, I didn’t realize it was this bad. We have the whole world in front of us, but we’re too occupied with what someone else is doing on social media or compulsively checking messages that aren’t urgent. It’s sad the we collectively let technology consume our lives to the point where we don’t enjoy the full benefits of our present surroundings.
You’re not going to die if you don’t check your social notifications right away. If the text message isn’t an emergency or something that requires an immediate answer, it can wait. Turn your phone off for a day, leave it home to resists the temptation. It’s a great way to practice self care.
My new phone came in the mail today. I connected to my iCloud and made sure everything is working fine, but I have don’t really have any desire to buy a cheap sim card and use it to its full capacity during my final two weeks in the US. What was once an inconvenience has now become a blessing in disguise.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”