Mobile phone addiction – it’s something many of us are dealing with in this digital age. We are ‘always on’, always contactable and so used to mindless scrolling. In the interests of transparency, I tried every trick in the book to put off taking part in this exercise.
Excuses such as ‘I’m too busy’ or, ‘People might need to get in contact with me’ were running through my mind. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least, but a week ago I finally did it.
I went Saturday through til Monday with no mobile phone or social media. This included using other people’s, but I did however, use the landline and emails from home.
I turned my phone off at 12 am on Saturday morning and hit the sack to start this new 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, but as I reached over I remembered – no phone. This was the fist time I was made aware of the feeling of excitement I get from my phone. As it waned, I noticed how still my room was and 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, and 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. Firstly I felt a sense of panic that it wasn’t there, and secondly I remembered that I had no way of checking when the bus was coming. Something 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, too.
As these pangs continued I ask myself, why do I need to know the bus times? It won’t make the bus come any quicker? What i gathered from this was that it gave me a feeling of control in a situation that was completely out of my control. The bus will come when it comes and looking at the time won’t change that. Then I realised that I didn’t know what the time was. I couldn’t check my phone and I had no watch on. Travelling to work not knowing if I was late or early, and with no idea when the bus was coming, was a strange feeling.
I think this is going to be harder than I thought.
At last, the bus came. It took me to the underground. With nothing to distract me, I noticed just how many people were on their phones, listening to music, texting scrolling, reading.
I felt as if I was looking from the outside in. I was not part of that club anymore, and I felt excluded from it. From the virtual world, the distraction and the knowledge. And those pangs of anxiety were still there.
Getting to work
As I got to work, I began to think. Not about anything in particular just about what needs doing in my life, what I am going to do later etc. I felt the same pang of anxiety and check my pocket. How many times am I going to do it this weekend? Do I suffer with mobile phone addiction?What occurred to me during this time, is the time I’m spending in my own headspace. This time, I’m spending thinking about myself is the time I would usually be spending on social media or texting.
I go over to a colleague and initiate conversation. Half way through she picks up her phone up to check her socials. I stop talking, she doesn’t notice and I walk away. I think to myself, “How rude is that”, and then very quickly after, “Wait, do I do that?” And would I even know if I did?
The day continues, and so do the pangs of anxiety related to my mobile phone addiction. I’m not due to meet my partner for another 4 hours but I finish work early. I can’t ring, I can’t text. Will she be home?
I did think about ringing from a payphone, but I don’t know her number and with no address book how would I call her? My wallet doesn’t even have a change purse. I haven’t used a pay phone in years. They definitely don’t take Amex.
I get to her house and she’s there. Surprised to see me, she 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 conversation. This made me think how key connection is in relationships. 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.
See you soon, for Day 2!