I Went Without a Phone for Roughly Six Days, and Here’s What I Learned

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“The insurance company should be calling you sometime tonight, and they’ll ship the replacement phone in the morning. You should have it by Tuesday.” The lady at Verizon Wireless looked at me, sounding all too annoyed by the situation. She wasn’t the only one. As I’d find out in the coming days, you don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone. You also don’t know you have a problem until you have to confront it directly. 

 

My road to misery started on what should have been a time of celebration—my 19th birthday. I went to a friend’s apartment where some of my high school friends were waiting to celebrate. Without going into too many specifics, everything was going well; we were having fun, catching up, and enjoying ourselves when I accidentally got my phone wet. It worked for a little while once I was able to fish it out, but after that it essentially turned into a brick.

That morning, I woke up and immediately went looking for my phone, unsure of where I’d put it the night before. I walked into one of the bedrooms and saw my less-than-two months old iPhone 6 laying on the floor. I picked it up and pressed the power button, hoping it’d work. Nothing.

“Uhh, you guys. Why isn’t my phone working? It like, won’t turn on at all.”

“It’s probably from when you got it wet last night… That kinda screws up phones,” my friend informed me from the comforts of his bed.

“Yeah, but it worked last night. Now it’s a fucking brick.” I was getting worried at this point. It was not going to be fun explaining to my parents that my $700 phone had just stopped working.

“Did you try plugging it in? It might be dead,” said another voice from that same bed.

The idea had crossed my mind, but I didn’t think anything would come of it. Regardless, I grabbed a nearest charger and walked back into the living room.

This entire time, I’m thinking Oh, shit. This is not going to work and my phone is broken and I’m fucked and now I won’t be able to talk to people and fuckfuckfuck. 

As I reached down to plug my phone in, my heartbeat slowed. I took a deep breath and said a prayer. When the screen remained black and unchanged, I got pissed.

I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I knew my parents wouldn’t take it well, but I couldn’t get along without a phone very easily, either. I got back to my campus and packed up my stuff to head home for the remainder of the weekend. I was going there for a birthday dinner with my family anyway, so this phone thing was just another item on the agenda.

My parents took it better than I expected they would. Of course they were angry, but I didn’t get yelled at or anything…it was more of an “accidents happen” kinda thing. Since this was the first phone I’d ever broken, I think they cut me some slack.

By the time we got to the Verizon store on Sunday, I’d been without a phone for about 30 hours. Honestly, the only thing I really use my phone for is social media, and I could get on those sites in one form or another, excluding SnapChat. I was missing a sense of security but not always having a way to contact people, but I was getting by alright.

Here’s where the story turns south (or, more south than it was before, because I’d argue that I was in a shitty situation beforehand). Once all the technical stuff was taken care of, I was essentially told that I’d have a new phone within two days. I didn’t see the need to activate another one for such a brief period of time, so I planned to just come back home from college on Tuesday and pick it up. Things didn’t work out that way.

A couple nights later, I got a Facebook message (this was my primary means of communication at the time) from my mother that said “Don’t come home tomorrow night. They screwed up at the store and we have to re-fax the information. It’ll be a couple more days.” Just what I wanted to hear.

I’ll spare you anymore details; just know that I didn’t get my phone until late Thursday night. I went from the early morning hours of Saturday to Thursday with nothing at my finger tips— and I learned a lot in the process.


 

From the second I didn’t have a phone, the dominant thought it my head was “How in the world will I talk to my friends?” It’s not like I talked to a ton of people every day, but I did alright and had enough conversations to keep me busy. I was really worried I’d miss out on something important.

My second thought was “What the hell am I going to do now?” At the time, I spent ridiculous amounts of time on my phone at stupid hours just because it gave me something to do. I had no clue as to what I was going to do with all that extra time.

Let me tell ya, I’m actually counting my blessings on this one. I’ve haven’t had such a productive week in recent memory.

My days that week went like this: Class, Gym, Nothing. I had a whoooole lot of time for nothing. It was awful…but I found a way to deal with it. For the first time in my life, I began to do my work ahead of schedule. This was out of sheer boredom, but it also had something to do with what I talked about in my last post. Since I didn’t have any distractions, I found myself flying through it. I was able to hit my writing goals with plenty of time to spare. Honestly, I got so much done so quickly that I still had time to lay around and do nothing.

This speaks volumes about how much I was on my phone. Before this whole extravaganza, I used to sit on my phone and just screw around with no actual purpose whatsoever. I had this awful habit of checking every last one of my social media apps, then repeating the cycle in the same order. Over.and.over.again. I probably wasted an hour or two doing this every day. Thankfully, that habit has been recognized and is now on the mend.

The other big realization I had from this whole fiasco was that I don’t need to talk to my friends nearly as much as I thought I did. Sure, it’s nice to be a phone call or text message away from people that I only get to see a few times a year, but I realized that it isn’t a necessity. Those people have no direct impact on my life, other than providing me with some conversation every now and again. I had posted on every form of social media that I did not have a working phone, so I wasn’t all that shocked when I didn’t have a lot of notifications waiting for me once I had a good one again. This wasn’t a bad thing at all… In fact, it helped me realize that people don’t try to reach me as often as I thought. It also helped me realize that it isn’t a big deal when I don’t talk to them.

I only found myself missing my phone during a couple specific periods of time. One was before class, when everyone awkwardly sits around waiting for the professor to stroll in. It kinda sucks having to look around at nothing while every other person in the room has his eyes glued to a screen. The other times were right before bed, when the lights are out and I’m just not ready to close my eyes, and when I’m driving, for the simple fact that I’d be fucked if I got lost or ran out of gas.

As you can probably tell, going without a cell phone is this day and age is quite the inconvenience. It does suck, but it is by no means unmanageable. Now that I have personally been through the experience, I’m going to admit something that I never thought I’d ever get behind.

You know all those people who tell stories about what ditching cell phones did for them? Things of this variety? Well, I’ve now started to see the logic behind it. You just flat out get more done. With a phone that literally cannot download an app, you’ll eventually lose the need to be on that app. Trust me, if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.

If I didn’t need social media to build a platform, I really might consider ditching my smartphone. For now, though, I’ll just have to learn how to deal. As much as that week sucked, it taught me that I had a bit of a problem. The first step is admission, and now I only use my phone for a limited amount of time. Seriously, try it. Shut off your phone for a few days and see what you get done. It might just change your life.

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