In April, I attended a Meetup group event on digital consciousness, and the organizer encouraged us to leave our phones behind at home for the day. I said, why the hell not, left my phone at home, went to the Meetup, and had a revelation.
I don’t need my phone.
After the two-hour Meetup was over, a couple of attendees and myself went for coffee. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day. We sat by the patio and chatted for a few hours before I headed home.
I didn’t have my phone on me for about six hours, and I lived to tell the tale.
. . .
It has been a really long time since I, at least consciously, have made a decision to leave the house without my phone. Most of us can relate to the panic we feel when we think we have forgotten our phone at home. But, do we ever stop and ask ourselves why we feel panicked?
Without critically examining our attachment to our smartphones, having our phones on us 24/7 has become the norm.
Being connected 24/7 has become the norm.
What if there is an emergency?
The biggest emergency I can recall that was mitigated by being reachable has been last-minute plans with friends or families. Maybe my life is simply stress-free, or most of us don’t want to be honest about the real reason we can’t leave our smartphones behind.
Avoiding social discomfort.
If it really is for in-case-of-emergency purposes, why do so many of us stay glued to our phones? If your life is so emergency-prone that you need to be glued to your phone constantly, then that’s a whole other issue to cover.
“But, I really need to be available 24/7 for my work/business/entrepreneurship/etc.”
Sure, if your commitments and responsibilities require you to be available 24/7, that is a different story as well. As long as you are being honest with yourself.
The point I’m making is that it is extremely important that we ask the why questions regarding our phone usage. Why do I need to have my phone on me all the time? Why do I feel like I can’t leave the house without it? Why do I feel panic when I can’t reach for my phone?
You get the point.
. . .
So, last week, after asking myself those questions for a while and in the heat-of-the-moment decision-making spree, I took my phone to the Apple store and traded it in for store credit.
The sales person asked me, cheerily, what phone I’m using now. I told her I just gave it to her!
– Oh, so are you buying one today?
– Who is your service provider? They might have deals.
– I’ll think about it.
I think she looked a bit concerned, but I didn’t feel like preaching about digital minimalism to a stranger to justify my decision to not have a phone.
I just wanted to get rid of it at that moment, without thinking too much about how the heck am I going to survive without a phone? I didn’t want to give myself the time to reason and come to the logical conclusion that I might need a phone.
So, I got my $68.00 gift card for my old iPhone 5SE and walked out of the store trembling with the what-ifs, and sheer excitement.
I did it! I was phoneless.
Cliché but, I felt so free. I could do anything without any input from the world. It was glorious.
The most pressing issue right after was wanting to contact people to tell them ‘omg, look what I just did!’ and not being able to. My ego got a reality check.
I lasted two whole days.
In those two days, I commuted. I went to work. I went to the gym. I went shopping. I basically did all the things I normally do, but without a phone.
I didn’t need a phone.
. . .
But I missed my phone.
I missed my alarm clock, iMessage, camera, music, podcasts, Suduko, and everything else that is crucial to my first-world lifestyle in the 21st century.
So, with the full realization and understanding that I don’t, indeed, need a phone, I went and bought one because I wanted the convenience that a smartphone afforded me. I kept the valuable lesson I learned though: I can, 100%, not only survive but even thrive without a phone.
A phone is not a necessity, it is simply a convenience. There are people who don’t have a phone for whatever reason and seem to be doing just fine.
Life goes on as is.
Yesterday, I decided to leave my phone behind when I went to kickboxing class. Between commuting and the class, it takes about two and a half hours. I figured I can unplug for two hours, and the world, even my world, will go on perfectly fine.
. . .
After some critical self-reflection, impulsive decision-making, and life experience, I have learned that I can leave my phone behind without some crisis taking place. I plan on continuing unplugging from the digital world by leaving my phone behind when I leave the house for a short period of time.
Or, the whole day.
And enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes from not being bombarded with information, the longing for notifications, and the desire to escape myself.
. . .
I encourage everyone to try leaving their phone behind and find out its potential benefits for themselves.
Start out simple. Leave your phone behind when you are out for a very short time. Then, ask yourself: Does it feel good? Does it add to my life in a positive way? Do I feel relieved without my phone on me?
Maybe you will find out that life is so much better when you have your phone on you at all times.
Maybe, you will find out that it is nice to unplug once in a while, to be unreachable. To leave it all behind. Even if it is for a couple of hours at a time.