Life Without a Smartphone

Recently I had the great misfortune of breaking the screen on my smartphone.  The story?  Simple: A delicious bagel and gravity.  Sometimes you just don't have enough hands to handle everything at once.  

This is something that happens to plenty of people and that's okay.  Shit happens.  Cracking the screen and not having a working phone didn't bother me much outside of not being able to immediately communicate with the LAN Mob guys, family and my girlfriend.  I've learned a few things in the two weeks that I haven't been directly connected to the world, and all things considered, I would prefer to live without the tech.  

Unpopular Opinion

Smartphones are good for so much, no denying that.  Being able to talk to anyone at any time is typically taken for granted as well as being able to access information so quickly.  The technology has advanced so fast this century that it can be hard to keep up.  Watching my parents figure their way around their phones is still enjoyable.  So fundamentally, there's so much value from having one.

I suppose it's difficult to say "We all have a smartphone addiction!"  There's certainly people who are disciplined in moderating how they use/waste time on their phone.  There's also plenty of people who rely on their phones for business and would completely fall apart if they didn't have one.  

I'll be the first to admit that I'm the friend in the group constantly checking their phone.  It's an awful habit and I have no idea when it started.  I remember having my first unlimited text TracFone plan and thinking that that was a problem.  Now you can escape to anywhere at any time.  

It's important to accept that smartphone addiction is a thing.  It affects how we communicate and is rooted in much more complicated problems.  So how do we break away from the connection in a culture that's so dependent on it?

My Experience

I grew up with parents who were strict with the time we spent looking at the TV.  Generally we were limited to 2 hours of video gaming or TV a day.  I'm grateful for this because, although I wasn't able to play ALL the games, I was able to cherish the ones I did play that much more.

Now, I'm sure that my folks didn't see the impact that smartphone technology would have in 2016, but they definitely had the right idea and now I see why.  

Giving yourself a limit, whether necessary or not, is better than letting yourself get consumed without a purpose.  The line between responsible usage and over-usage is thin so it's important to draw that line for yourself.  Despite this, I can still manage to see why there are gamers who can play countless hours and still be high functioning; the game has meaning to them and translates into their daily life.  It's more than a mindless distraction.

A similar problem and one that I've been trying to rid myself of is sleeping without TV/stream/netflix.

All growing up I NEVER had a TV in my room, so sleeping without any tech was something I was used to.  As soon as I had my own, though, it became a routine before bed.  It's fun to watch your favorite streamer at the end of the day, but the background noise has been proven to make for some very uneven sleeping patterns.  

So with that, I'll talk briefly about some things I noticed during my time without a phone.  

- Using your old phone as an alarm clock really trips you when you wake up and hear that old jingle you spend so many days years ago waking up to.

- Communicating bits of info has never been so important.  I've never appreciated timely responses more in my life.  

- Getting out of bed is easier.

- Ordering food seemed awkward at first and, as I reach into an empty pocket, I realize that I'll have to make the best of this experience.  It isn't that bad, though.  Make small talk, look around a bit.  

- Everyone is on their phone so much.

- Having a contact number for the guy fixing your phone is laughable.


I can't tell you that you're on your phone too much.  You have to see that on your own.  There's plenty of research done about how looking at your phone too much messes with you but here's a few handouts and challenges:

-When you wake up, don't look at your phone.  I know it's hard.  Get out of bed first and do your morning ritual whether it be some combination of meditation, going to the bathroom, getting something to eat, stretching, going for a run, scratching your dog, just do that instead.  Get in the right state of mind first.  Getting on your phone first thing will make you all jumbled and you won't be thinking clearly.

- Turn your phone on silent during your busy time of the day (if you can.)  There is no phone god, I think.  You don't owe anything to anyone, so don't let anyone guilt you into being glued to your phone.  Someone clearly has more free time than you.  

-  Use your phone less in social situations.  You can still use it, but once the voice in your head tells you just how long you've been doing it, you should listen.  Physical interactions will always trump some text on a screen.  

- Turn your phone completely off about an hour before bed.  Decompress.  You should be getting ready for the best sleep of your life, not in a twitter rabbit hole about some nonsense that doesn't really matter.  The real challenge here is turning your phone back on before you finally lay down.  Don't you look at that phone. Don't you even dare. Stop it. Sleep now, child.

Final Thoughts

So living in 2016 can be quite a demanding time as far as keeping up with the latest technology and trends.  It's arguably harder to find someone who doesn't have a smartphone or tablet than someone who does.  

There's no doubt that having access to these devices serves a valuable role in the way we communicate day-to-day, but certainly affects how reliant we become in the long term.  

So I challenge anyone reading to consciously spend a little less time on your phone, tablet or TV per day.  You don't have to break it like me, or completely remove these devices from your daily life, but when the voice in your head says "I've been here for too long", just take a hint and shut it down.

Can anyone out there relate?  Had a similar situation where you were forced to be without your phone for an extended period of time?  I'd like to hear your thoughts on this topic! It's one that will be relevant for many years to come.  

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