I tried every trick in the book to put off partaking in this particular exercise.
Excuses such as ‘I’m too busy’ or, ‘people may need to get in contact with me’ were permeating through my mind. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least, but a week ago I did it.
Saturday to Monday no social media or mobile phone – including other people’s at all – however, I could use landlines and emails from home.
What I hope to show is my full experience and development over the course of the 3 days to give an example of how integral a mobile phone is in our lives.
So, I turned my phone off at 12 am on Saturday morning and hit the sack to start the adventure.
Day one started by being woken up to my digital alarm clock (remember those?) I could already feel a sense of loss as if I was missing something. I felt a short sharp pang of excitement then as I reached over I remembered, no phone. I then realised this is the feeling of excitement I get from my phone. As it waned I noticed how still my room was, I had time to think about the day.
As I was preparing for the day I noticed that sharp pinch of anxiety kept occurring every few minutes or so. It was the psychological need to check my phone to see what was going on, who wanted me. My head began to spin, what am I missing out on, has anything happened?
As I waited for the bus I instinctively checked my pocket to get my phone out. First I felt a sense of panic that it wasn’t there, and second I remembered that I had no way of checking when the bus was coming. Something which I had taken for granted was the apps that keep me going through the day. It dawned on me getting home I would not be able to check the bus or train times; my headphones were useless without a device to play music on.
As the pangs continued I asked myself; why would I need to know the bus time? It would not make the bus come any sooner? I reasoned that it gave me a feeling of control of a situation which was absolutely out of my control. The bus will come when it comes and looking at the time won’t change that. Wait what is the time? Again I realised I could not check my phone and had no watch on. I was going to work not knowing if I was late or early. With no idea when the bus was coming.
I think this is going to be harder than I thought.
The bus came, at last, and took me to the underground. With nothing to distract me, I noticed just how many people were on their phone, listening to music, or reading an e-book. In fact, I would say there were more people reading E-books than actual books.
I felt as if I was watching everyone from the outside I was not part of that club anymore,excluded from it, from the virtual world or distraction and knowledge.
All I had now were pangs of anxiety which would wain when I had no phone to check.
Getting to work
So I get to work (making me realise no amount of checking makes me any earlier or later) and as I start I begin to think. Not about anything in particular just about what needs doing, what I am going to do later etc. I get the pang and check my pocket. How many times am I going to do that this weekend? What comes to me then is that the time I am spending in my own headspace, thinking about myself is the time I would usually be spending on social media or texting someone.
I go over to a colleague and initiate conversation, halfway through she picks her phone up and checks her status. I stop talking, she doesn’t notice and I walk away. How rude is that I think to myself, wait, do I do that? Would I know if I did it?
The day continues, pangs and all I am not due to meet my partner for another 4 hours but I finish work early. I can’t ring, I can’t text, and will she be home?
I did think about ringing from a payphone but I don’t know her number anyway and with no address book how would I call her? My wallet doesn’t even have a change purse and, not that I have used a pay phone in years; I wouldn’t have thought they take Amex.
I get to her house and she is at home, surprised to see me and asks instinctively why I didn’t text before I left and then realises that I don’t have a phone.
As we eat together I realise just how much she uses her phone. The silences are filled with bleeps and blobs instead of prolonged gazes of love.
It makes me feel that a key connective part of relationships are dying, the ability to be with someone and not expect constant interaction or stimulation; to share a moment with someone in silence.
I wonder how my friends and family that I would usually be texting are getting on.
With the laptop off and no phone to watch youtube on, I slept.