38 Days Without

Category: Social Media Social Good Series

Addicted to Technology

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.

The Joy of Tech

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.

Technology Addiction

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?

  • David Hunt, PE

    I agree. Put down the phone, get out, and meet people face to face.


    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Hang on a minute @davidhuntpe:disqus – I’ll get right back to you!

  • Mei

    I’m all for not looking at the phone, esp. once I’m home with my daughter.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @disqus_mAYzV8PM6A:disqus – the odd part is that it is actually liberating!

  • David Weber

    I have written in these comment spaces before that the sole reason I carry a phone around is to be available in case there is an emergency call from my 97-yr.-old mama. I hope it doesn’t happen any sooner than it must, but when she goes, I will not worry so much whether or not I have a phone on my person.

    I am currently in Swansea, Wales, UK, on a teaching assignment through to June. I do have to carry a phone with me, directed to do so by the international programs office at my university in No. Carolina. Their concern is that they want to be able to get in touch with me — and have me get in touch with them — in case of any emergency. I brought about 20 students over here from my university, to study at the university in Swansea; and our international programs office wanted me to also be available to them by phone. So because it is a professional responsibility to carry a phone, I don’t mind so much.

    I have never checked email by smartphone. The only data usage I ever have on my phone is maps/directions while in the car.

    I have intentionally and purposely set myself up to as much as possible not interact with screens. I am always checking email when I am at the office. When I travel, I do check email on my notebook computer, but dislike doing so. To be joined at the hip, figuratively speaking, any more than that would be awful, for me … it is bad enough as it is.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Boy David, you sound like an OLD fuddy-duddy – but you know I love you anyway!