I did it! I’m sitting on my desktop with my phone in my pocket, so you know the outcome, but the path there is worth a read…
I chose Sunday and Monday for my little experiment: one day at home and one day at work. There were expected issues, and one unexpected issue!
I left my phone around 10:00 Saturday night. I would normally read on my phone or read a book, so I made sure I had a new book! I plugged in the old clock radio I haven’t bothered to move from my night stand… Even this came with complications. I went to set the time and went to the kitchen when I couldn’t check it on my phone. I also had to rearrange my nightstand to prevent things from being knocked over the next morning. On the plus side, it’s nice to be able to put on hand cream without worrying about getting a screen greasy or trying to use it through cotton gloves! My hands are drier than they’d otherwise be for that reason. I usually use an app called Sleepbot to track my sleep. It tells me when I should be getting to sleep soon and its smart alarm wakes me up when I’m more likely to feel rested. I did track my sleep roughly, but I won’t worry about tracking the hours.
Sundays are pretty relaxed in the Fehr/Sutherland household, and they revolve around food: shopping and cooking for the week. I did decide that I would still use the tablet for pulling up recipes in the kitchen – it’s better than printing it out, and we could have used Dave’s laptop with little more effort.
I woke up feeling great, but then sleeping in usually does! I got to talking with Dave about what restaurant to go to for our upcoming anniversary, and I would like to have checked Google Maps or Open Table’s recent Top 100 article. I waited until I got up to use my desktop over breakfast, though. I unplugged my phone at 10:20 that morning, and it had drained by a little over 50% in 36 hours. I usually use Evernote for making grocery lists, and I made a paper list instead. We usually make a couple of different stops and I forgot which pocket the list was in! On the other hand, it was much easier to bring up the list when I did find it. I used Dave’s phone to make a call a couple of times, but I would have done that regardless if his was closer. I didn’t really miss my phone otherwise, although I did find it was easier to loose track of time while, say, reading.
Monday morning I definitely missed my phone. Again, I like to check Facebook as I’m waking up. I didn’t need my alarm, though, so I missed the blaring and the physical snooze button – I woke up when Dave and and got up when he let me know the shower was free. I like to check the weather and listen to Sonic while I’m getting ready for work. I used my desktop in both cases, and the weather was the same but Garner Andrews was a bit quiet from the other room! I worried a bit catching the bus (I do wear a watch, but I keep it five minutes fast), but my schedule is pretty set. I’d normally read or play a game on my phone, and I brought my book and a notebook. Aside from the heft of it, no complaints there…
Things got tricky at work. Outlook stopped working properly, and when resetting my Windows password didn’t work (it was about due), I decided to reboot my computer. I keep the clue to my password in Lastpass, which I log into from… my phone. I had a brilliant thought that I do remember my master password, and I can log in from a colleague’s computer! One tiny problem there: two-factor authentication. I called IT for a password reset, which normally would have been pretty quick, but it turns out everyone was having Outlook issues and I ended up having to wait to get through. This was the first time – the only time, really – when I needed my phone.
I missed my phone at lunch, too, to be able to check when to return, and to be able to text Dave to see if he wanted to go for a walk. I tried to call him but it didn’t pan out. The rest of the day was uneventful (aside from catching up on the work I couldn’t do without email), and I went back to my phone around 10:30 pm.
So, what were the themes of my experiment?
- We create a dependency on our devices. Especially when you consider them as little gateways to the internet, you can access anything with a phone.
- Cell phones are good at fostering what I’d call passive connections. We read what other people communicate frequently, but how often to we reach out to others directly? When we do, how many are we reaching out to on a regular basis? I don’t know if not having a phone made me want to reach out more, but I’m pretty introverted.
- This constant access commodifies time. There is a huge time savings, for sure, but there’s an offset of videos and listicles and freemium games. If you never use that time for productive things, it’s just another addiction.
I’m not going to give up my phone, but my little break from it serves as a good reminder that there’s a whole, real world I can’t access with it. It may be the alpha, but it is definitely not the omega.