I met one of my good friends a couple of weeks ago and while we were browsing through different shops she was like “You know what you should do? You should write about how having no phone has been affecting your life“. So here I am, writing exactly that.
Let me explain – having no mobile was not my own choice (as one might imagine) though I commend people for actually doing “phone detoxes” every once in a while. Four to five years ago, my phone fell out of my back pocket and into the toilet – since then it’s like I’m cursed with bad luck when it comes to my mobile phone.
First and foremost, let me clarify that this will most certainly be a post that discusses a first world problem, not having a phone isn’t the end of the world. It did take a little adjustment though and I noticed some interesting things about my phone habits that I felt like I wanted to share.
1. trying to meet up with people “the old-fashioned way”
…is difficult. I’m not saying it’s impossible because I’ve managed to do this in the weeks without any way of mobile communication but my god, how much planning it takes. And no, I don’t mean the fun “what do you want to do? where do you want to eat?” planning. First of all – if one of you is late then the other person has no way of knowing that. This happened to me with a friend (who is always late, so I kind of was expecting it – I love her to death anyway) but still, you get worried standing at the same spot for twenty minutes, desperately trying to make out your friend in the crowd.
I started thinking about all of the possible things that could have happened; maybe her transportation was just off schedule, maybe she missed her stop, maybe she missed her bus all together, maybe there was an emergency and she wouldn’t show up at all, maybe she got kidnapped on the way to our meeting spot, maybe someone murdered her, maybe……. okay, you get the idea. My point is, there is absolutely no time for spontaneous changes in your plan.
I have never been so specific in my life when comes to arranging places to meet. I would literally pick places I knew well and could describe in the umtost detail. This was me every single time: “In front of the mall, on the right hand side of the blue signs, 10 metres next to shop A, opposite shop B, right by the newspaper stand of an old guy with a beard”
2. using your phone to pass the time
Whilst I was waiting for my friend, uselessly standing around and watching, well, the people around me, I noticed that the majority of people were on their phones – no big surprise. But when I turned to look at the people waiting beside me, 100% of them were all on their mobile devices. If the person they were waiting for were to walk past them, they wouldn’t have even noticed – that is, if their friend hadn’t texted them “I’m here” or “I see you”. Standing there amongst people, all staring down at their devices, I found myself feeling strangely out of place. I didn’t know how to act, where to look, what to do in the mean time.
The same went for any other instance where I had a little time. I always carry a book with me and boy, it really came in handy (more so than ever). I felt like I had something to do with all of my free time which is why I read a ton of books in the period of having no phone (click here to see everything I read!)
3. I rely on Google Maps…. a lot
Oh man, it’s hard without a navigation system and and only with an orientational genius like myself (haha). Maps…like the real physical kind…what even are they?! It was so hard finding my way from point A to B at first but then it became a sort of game in my mind that I actually quite enjoyed. I aimlessly wandered around the city all the time and it actually helped me improve my knowledge of streets and other places quite a bit.
4. Facebook was my only source of digital connection
…so I used it a lot at first. I chatted with my friends on the daily while I was home and for a while, it almost felt normal. After a while my Facebook use just went down and down – until I found myself forgetting to check my messages for a large chunk of the day. Sometimes I wouldn’t even check at all. The reason for this is still not exactly clear to me, I think it was a mixture of being fed up with Facebook all together (ugh) and just getting used to talking to my friends when I saw them.
Who knew how exciting it was to meet up with your friend after some time bursting at the seams with updates on my life, questions and just thoughts in general? I mean, obviously I had felt that before, it was just always a little more muted because when you’re snapchatting and texting and keeping up with your friend’s lives on social media, your friend already kind of has an idea of what’s going on in your life. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to check in with friends during the day and always knowing that if something happens, they’re just a call or text away. But still – it’s different, in a good way.
What I’m trying to say is that having some time apart to miss each other is good for a relationship/friendship, beneficial even (and yes, “having time apart” also means time apart on all of the socials). Same goes for not being up-to-date on each other’s lives 24/7.
5. I started noticing things
What I mean by this is that I was forced to look up from that screen in my hands (because it didn’t exist anymore lol) and I actually started to witness moments. Random acts of kindness by strangers, just things that were beautiful. Which is exactly why I started to take more photos again. I had my eyes open at all times and in return I got to work on a hobby of mine and improve on my skills.
What I learnt is that not having a phone for a while isn’t that bad. In fact, it benefitted me in a lot of ways. According to a study published on statista.com, global internet users spent an average of 135 minutes on social media a day in 2017. I’m the first person to admit that I easily spend that much time on social media, I mean WordPress is considered a social platform. I have no intention of cutting back on blog posts because I get something from it. I get a community, I get different opinions, I get satisfaction from sharing my thoughts and feelings.
But what do I get from mindlessly scrolling through people’s feeds, feeds I’m not even paying attention to properly, feeds I’m going to forget about the next day anyway?
The answer is; nothing. Nothing worth my time anyway. And that’s why having no phone during the summer holidays was one of the best things that could have happened to me.