Writing about going without technology is nothing original, for sure, and I’m not going to re-invent the wheel with this column. However, I am going to share my recent experience going without my iPhone for 38 days. The caveat is that I did have use of my phone for calls on a very limited basis and did receive and make about a dozen in the course of those 38 days.
But, the usage that I’d grown attached to – some might say addicted to – was date. I love to post photos on Instagram, text friends, surf the web, and more. Phone usage has always been minimal because I just don’t hear that well on a cell-phone. Yes, with a headset it’s better, but I’ve found that I’d rather text or chat for short conversations and meet in real life for more in-depth ones.
In the car, I use the phone more frequently for conversation especially on longer trips. That is often when I catch up with family or friends that I haven’t spoken with in a while.
Otherwise, my attachment to my iPhone is basically as an extension of my laptop though the Instagram feature and texting are more unique to the phone. I also check the stock market and weather pretty regularly.
Before embarking on my recent journey to Dubai, India, and Africa, I made the decision to get a phone-usage-only plan simply to maintain contact with my boys back home, especially if there were an emergency. The cost of a full data plan just didn’t seem worth it to me since I knew I had unlimited wi-fi access on the cruise which comprised the majority of the trip and I expected I’d have easy or inexpensive wi-fi access during our few hotel stays.
So, upon take-off for the trip I put the phone away and only brought it out again and turned it on to receive or make the occasional call to/from the boys. No longer was I attached to my phone, checking it for texts, and habitually taking photos and Instagramming them. At first, that instinctual reaching-for-the-phone made me smile, but in short order that habit receded. I began to like being un-tethered.
There’s no doubt that many of us spend far too much time face deep in our phones when there are people and beauty in view. There’s no doubt, we isolate ourselves by our focus on this tiny screen. And, there’s no doubt there’s generations of kids growing up knowing nothing else.
As with most things, moderation is likely the best course. The tools available on our hand-held phones are incalculably valuable. But, they don’t build character, deepen relationships, expose one to the world directly, or give you tactile experiences.
For me, it was liberating while at the same time I missed aspects of its pleasures. On the return flights home, we were grounded by rain – on the plane – in Atlanta, Georgia. I remembered that I had my phone in my carry-on. I pulled it out, turned it on, and within literally seconds, I was back ensconced in texting, surfing, and posting photos on Instagram.
My takeaway? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a good thing to turn it off once in a while?