By Eve Gordon
In the modern world we rely on apps to do just about everything. From checking our bank balance to getting directions to listening to music and even finding love or lust, smartphone apps have become a huge part of our everyday routines. But have you ever wondered what a whole week without using your favourite apps would look like?
To find out, we asked a self-confessed app addict, 22-year-old actress Eve Gordon, to delete her most-used applications and keep a diary detailing how she got on. At the start of the week, her app screen time totalled over five hours a day, with her most-used app being WhatsApp. Below she details her week without her beloved Instagram, Spotify, WhatsApp, Monzo and Citymapper.
One word. WhatsApp. That’s the one that caused chaos on my first app-less day. Turns out it’s the modern way for your boss to get hold of you to offer you an extra shift, so it’s also costly if you aren’t there to get the message. I only found out that I’d been asked to come in when I re-downloaded it in order to change my status to an aggressive: DON’T WHATSAPP, TEXT ME THIS WEEK! and saw the message (which would have been ideal in cash-strapped January).
Not having the other apps hasn’t caused a problem at all yet, replacing Spotify with YouTube has been a saviour. Although, since when was it legal to have a four adverts to one song ratio? Also, I have been quite enjoying tapping away on my little Monzo card without the annoying ping! every time you make a transaction, reminding me a) how much of a shopping problem I have and b) how poor I am.
I think when I reinstall Monzo I might turn off the spending notifications altogether and save myself the trauma. It doesn’t stop me spending money so really it’s just a useless reminder of my dwindling savings. However, it has always been good in terms of tracking my spending on Tubes and buses as often I forget I’m spending £10 to meet a friend for a coffee on the other side of London.
Let’s call my second day without apps ‘Nightmare Without WhatsApp Part 2’. When I got into work someone told me I had been added into the new work group chat, but while they are all getting acquainted I am left out and probably look like a massive arse for not sending even an obligatory ‘hi guys’ message.
I also missed an important message from a long-term friend whom I have lovely but sparse contact with, causing her to send an “Are you ignoring me?” text. This all happened despite my aggressive ALL CAPS status — clearly no one looks at it, meaning my well-intended pro-Labour statuses during the general election were also probably ignored.
I also got a suspicious email from Apple saying I had purchased something which I would usually be able to confirm on my much-used Monzo app. I ended up having to go the long way around and contact their customer services via telephone so it was all a bit old school. However, it did mean that I had a lovely chat with their customer service adviser who repeatedly told me to have a good day so it worked out quite well.
You don’t realise how lonely and shit bus rides are until you have to do one without music. Fortunately, it only took me about 10 minutes into the journey to remember I have podcasts on my phone and let me tell you that the Guardian Focus podcast is where it’s at. I listen to it most mornings while I’m putting my face on and find it a really informative, accessible way to hear the news. The episode that accompanied my bus ride was “Where did it all go wrong for Harry and Meghan?” A topic I’ve been following closely.
WhatsApp came up again as an issue today, this time in the form of a boy who I matched with on Bumble and have been talking to for the past few months. Turns out he took my message saying ‘Don’t WhatsApp me this week’ as a sign I wasn’t interested, which I found out when I texted him and discovered he had blocked my number. Bad. My friends also keep pestering me on Facebook to get me to check my WhatsApp messages. I honestly had no idea how heavily I relied on WhatsApp as a means of communication until now.
I feel today’s entry will work best if I describe to you what I did with the hours I would usually spend scrolling on Instagram and listening to sad songs that make me cry on Spotify. Instead, today I spent nine hours filling in a paint by numbers picture of a peacock. After that I watched the full inquiry into the death of a guest on the Jeremy Kyle Show. It’s over three hours long and not something I would normally do but it was engrossing and tragic.
Turns out I am also missing out on the photos of my sister’s travels around South America on Instagram. I also missed the opportunity to score myself a delightful mint green tracksuit courtesy of Pretty Little Thing x Molly Mae because I missed her upload on Instagram, and so unlike all her other minions, I didn’t get one before they had all sold out. This, I suppose, constitutes a saving.
This is where I should tell you that, after a five-day cleanse of my most used (overused?) apps, I feel lighter, mentally fresher etc… But the truth is that I am just counting down the hours until I can download and reinstall them all. Honestly, these apps are all such conveniences and they just make my everyday life run more smoothly. I am especially getting sad without being able to pop on a Spotify playlist. For me, walking anywhere without a soundtrack makes it feel like exercise, although my new podcasts are filling the void — ever so slightly.
Good news! My WhatsApp boyfriend managed to find me back on the dating app and ask “You alive?” which was nice. Although when I told him we would have to text instead of WhatsApp he replied with “Who uses text?” and then suggested Snapchat. So I decided that a man whose communication can’t stretch to good old fashioned texting isn’t really worth my time and I’ve decided to sack it off and will try and find love once the week is up.
Have you ever bought something online and then it doesn’t arrive and when you go to find evidence of buying it all that evidence has disappeared? No? Well, that’s happened to me. I bought an item from Amazon on Friday and have been waiting for it to arrive ever since. When it was a no-show again today, I decided to go onto my account and find out where it was, but there was no receipt.
I scroll through my Paypal account, no evidence there. Then my Santander account, nothing. Ah. Did I buy it with Monzo? Well since Monzo doesn’t exist in any other form than the app I won’t be able to answer that burning question until after tomorrow. So it’ll be a sleepless night ahead for me as I consider whether I really needed to buy an LED Ring Light on Amazon in the first place.
The last day. We’ve gone up and over the mountain and now it’s time to come down the hill and boy, have I come tumbling down. I must admit, I cracked. I had a mini party with some of my old school friends in my kitchen tonight and couldn’t handle the absolute aggro I was receiving because of the YouTube adverts, so I downloaded Spotify for the night. In my defence, my willpower was dented by two bottles of wine. I also have a group of friends who all (annoyingly) own androids so they couldn’t connect to the speaker, meaning that I was in charge of DJing. And what DJ uses YouTube?!
I had to fight my urges to go back on Instagram too and now I’m just counting down the seconds until I can get back to scrolling through Love Island memes. I have managed to stay off WhatsApp despite being told I’ve missed out on many group chat LOLs, but what a joyous day I will have reading them all back once I’m allowed again.
Overall, it’s fair to say that I found it almost impossible to stick to not using my top apps for a whole week. I got in trouble at work, almost lost a new love interest and was subjected to the noise of my neighbours getting their kitchen refitted (with no Spotify to drown it out). After seven days without my mainstay apps it’s clear to me that I’ve become so accustomed to using them that adapting to life without them long-term would be very hard.
The biggest thing I’ve learned this week is that I can’t cope without WhatsApp. I hated not being able to communicate with friends and family, and it felt like I was missing out on all the group chat goss.
Citymapper wasn’t really an issue for me as I didn’t have to travel to London for an audition this week and I know my little hometown like the back of my hand.
As for Instagram I realised that I feel prettier without it. I fundamentally believe there is a direct link between it and feeling insecure, especially body-wise. It’s like the traditional images in glossy women’s magazines being shoved in your face 24/7 but even more heavily edited. Baz Luhrmann said: “Don’t read beauty magazines — they will only make you feel ugly.” Well, I agree. I feel ugly after a scroll and so having a week completely free from it was like a heavenly escape from a world where freckles are only beautiful if they are edited in. I’d like to get rid of Insta indefinitely in the future, but it is a great way to source work and connect with people. I know very few people who don’t have Instagram and whenever I get chatted up in a bar they ask for your Insta handle before your number.
I am also definitely guilty of occasionally lying in bed and posting an old photo where I look NOTHING like myself just for a quick hit of those likes which in turn help me feel more worthy (for a limited time), so a week free from it all was a welcome break.
Spotify, on the other hand, I don’t think comes with any negatives. It’s reasonably priced, especially when you’re on a family plan that your dad pays for. Music definitely adds joy to my day, it gets me pumped for auditions and helps me wind down at the end of a day and I missed listening to it this week. It’s an app I will hold on to for as long as my dad is willing to pay for it.
Originally published at https://www.refinery29.com.