It seems like a ridiculous concept. A day without one’s phone should be simple enough, everyone did it pre-90’s, but now in 2018 going without your cellular device is like going without a limb.
So I decided to give it a try.
I would sacrifice my addiction for 24 hours, even if it meant experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. In just one day, I was able to experience life through a completely new lens where I was finally able to wake up and smell the roses rather than stare at a bright blue screen and tag people in memes all day long.
Why did I choose to do this?
I realized once and for all how reliant I was towards my phone. In a way, I could never truly be present regardless of what I was doing, because of the fact that the whole world was in my pocket at all times. Whether it was brunch with friends or bingeing a TV show alone, I could never fully experience my surroundings because I was always aware of the fact that I could’ve been spending that time reaching for my little black gadget of miracles.
But for what purpose was I always so desperate to search through my cellular device even while I was preoccupied? So I could look up the history of pet rocks, or take a Buzzfeed quiz on which type of cheese I am most like? So I could randomly read an article on the ‘Saved By The Bell’ cast, and where they are now? Did I really need to know where they were? Did I want to? I would never know, but I would read the article anyway.
Usually, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is not reach for my lover, but for my phone.
I did the same thing the day I went without it.
Swooped the phone up from my bedside, gave it a little kiss (actually), and then shoved it under a bunch of clothes in my pajama drawer.
After stuffing away my phone, I changed into my outfit for the day and felt tempted to take a quick Snapchat of my look, but knew that would be cheating. How else was I supposed to let the world know how cute I looked in my new dress, without sharing it on social media?
Oh, that’s right. I could actually go outside.
I didn’t have my phone to let me know what the temperature was, so I had to go all old fashioned and actually ask someone what the weather was like.
“It’s pretty nice,” my friend said.
But “pretty nice” wasn’t an exact temperature. “Pretty nice” wasn’t gonna tell me whether or not I should wear a jacket or sunscreen. So I decided to just take a chance and leave my building in the outfit I was already in.
On the elevator of my building, I actually had a conversation with the person next to me on the way down, rather than pretending to scroll through my phone in order to avoid awkward small talk. It was still awkward small talk none-the-less, but at least it was human interaction, something that can be refreshing from time to time… I guess…
Once I got outside, I became much more aware of my surroundings. Usually, I would have my earbuds in while blasting Lana Del Rey on my phone as loud as possible, but on that day I heard the universe. The drill of the construction workers, the cursing of the day-drunk homeless man down my street, and the conversations of the people around me.
“Oh my gosh, why would Susan do that?” A woman asked her friend on the subway seat next to me. Yes, why would Susan do that? I asked myself, using their private conversation as my only source of entertainment when there was no candy to crush or doodles to jump.
It was nice listening to the world around me. It was no Born To Die. But it was nice for once to get out of my own head and realize that I wasn’t the only person on the planet. There were other people with interesting stories and relationships (that I couldn’t help but completely eavesdrop on), And let me tell you, Susan is the absolute worst. Instead of snooping into people’s lives via Facebook and Instagram, I was getting the raw behind the scenes footage live, without filter.
A couple of hours into not having my phone, I began to experience the withdrawal. I remember continuously reaching into my pockets to grab for it, then I’d remember that my phone was cold and all alone underneath my pajama drawer. It was probably scared too. Frightened, maybe…
I should go and see if it’s alright, I thought, while heading back in the direction of my dorm. No, I kept telling myself. It’s just one day and you’ve already come this far. I knew I had to stick to my challenge, but I started to think I should’ve been wearing a handmaid bonnet and pilgrim gown because I was beginning to feel like a member of Little House on The Prairie.
I began to really think at that moment. What the hell did people do with their time if they weren’t texting and calling and looking up whatever they wanted whenever they wanted? I squinted in thought, pressing a finger to my lip for emphasis. Oh! I thought. That’s right! They had TV to entertain them! They had computers too! I smiled from ear to ear, thrilled that I had the option of entertainment through my laptop, with Netflix and Facebook and all the Buzzfeed cheese quizzes in the world.
But as I stepped into my dorm, I decided this was cheating. Even though I wouldn’t be on my phone, I would still be relying on technology to keep me satisfied. So, being the heroic Gen-Z do-gooder that I was, I decided to spend the whole day without any form of technological entertainment. It was a huge sacrifice, yes, but it was one I was willing to take for the sake of humanity. I was a martyr of sorts, surely, right up there with Saint Sebastian and Jesus Christ himself.
Once I got to my room, I sat on my bed with my hands over my face as I thought of all of the Netflix shows I was missing out on in that moment. Orange Is The New Black, Bojack Horseman, Friends…
Friends! I thought to myself. That’s it! I can hang out with my living, breathing friends to keep me sane. I laughed a little, surprised I hadn’t thought of that sooner. So I walked down a couple floors in my dorm building to come face to face with my friends’ suite.
Should I just knock? I wondered pathetically, as I stood at their door. Will they think I’m some psycho serial killer for just dropping by without shooting them a text first? …Oh who the hell cares. So I knocked on the door, and I was thrilled to see their bright and shiny faces staring back at me.
So I challenged them to join me in hanging out without any phones, and let me tell you, it was one of the best times I’ve ever had. Just me and my friends, no TV, no phones, no nothing. Just the four of us making each other laugh. I felt like I had been plopped right into a Stephen King novel, and it wasn’t a terrible feeling. Was having this much fun nowadays considered ‘retro’? I wanted to know.
So. Would I go a day without my phone again? Hell no. But have I realized how much better life is when you experience it in the present without any offensive technological distractions? Hell yes. The key is always moderation. Challenge yourself to have a day with your friends without your cellular device. No, you won’t be able to brag on your Instagram story about how much fun you’re having, but you’ll still be able to experience what could possibly be one of the best days of your life.