Excommunicado: A day without my phone

Considering that a fear-stricken panic is induced every time I can’t find my iPhone in less than three minutes, spending a day without my phone would prove somewhat of a challenge. However, the mobile phone has changed greatly within the last decade. No longer is the greatest feature on your phone a game of Snake in black and white. Today, a device not much bigger than a credit card holds more power than a monstrous Dell computer did in 2007.

Results from a survey conducted by Pew Research Centre in March show that 78 per cent of teens between 12 and 17 own a mobile phone, with 47 per cent owning a smart phone. Seeing a college student without a mobile phone is more unusual than seeing a college student with one. My phone is a miniature personal assistant to me, plus it provides an escape route in the case of inevitable awkward moments.

Before I embarked on what I felt was a great challenge, I text each of my most-used contacts, informing them that I would be unavailable to contact by phone for 24 hours. Responses ranged from worry to horror: ‘R u ok??’, ‘How am I supposed to contact u?!’

Following some mental preparation, I was as ready as I’d ever be to go on a one-day phone detox. Something told me this would be no more successful than any other kind of diet. Without my phone, I was up and ready within 20 minutes without the usual distraction of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and awaiting e-mails.

I made it through the morning by using my watch, God forbid, to tell the time; a hard copy of the newspaper to fill me in on events; and a classic pen and paper to write my to-do list. I was doing fine. Proud of my independence from something that I spend more time with than any person, I checked my watch. Twenty-five minutes had passed. This was going to be harder than I thought.

As the day went on, I was hugely surprised by my growing independence from the phone. I participated more in conversations and actually watched television instead of simultaneously reading everyone else’s opinions on Made in Chelsea’s latest drama on my Twitter news feed. Considering myself a busy person, I was shocked at how much spare time I had when my minutes weren’t wasted away uploading pictures of my latest meal.

That’s not to say I didn’t miss my phone. I particularly missed it when I stood in the rain for 25 minutes waiting for a bus, not being able to time it with the Dublin Bus app. Or when I was on the bus and I looked around and realized that it was only an old woman and I that were not using some form of technology.

Steve Jobs famously said, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” After my 24-hour break-up with my iPhone, I agree with him. Maybe everyone could do with a one-day phone detox once in a while. It’s pleasantly reassuring to know something the mere thought of once made my heart race and doubt my ability to survive can be done. I can live a fully functional life without my phone glued to my hand.

Amy Mulvaney

Image credit: zackaholic via flickr

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