How do you survive without your phone for a week? Leave the house without putting your phone in your bag. It was a wonderful experiment to try, after I read Womankind Magazine’s post on the smartphone challenge. I realised when I didn’t use my phone for a week, how much I didn’t need it. Most of the time when I used it, it was to search something, scroll on social media or look up things that weren’t necessary in that moment. When I didn’t have my phone, I felt focused in my studies and more attentive to the present.
How often do you use your smartphone, and for what activities? My phone is used to look at my notifications, and to read emails, messages, news, read articles and social media. I noticed that I use it when I don’t need to, and that it becomes a sense of distraction on what I may be focusing on. It becomes a form of escapism from the current task. How do you feel when your phone is left at home, or when you have to commute without its distracting presence? I felt more present with a curious observation of the world around me. It was freeing and makes you realise the reliance and attention we give to our phones, when we really don’t need to use it most of the time.
It made me realise how much our phones can be a distraction, because not every email, message and notification needs to be attended to immediately, and there was a longer sense of satisfaction to just check my phone only once at the very end of the day on everything. It allowed me to use my phone for only 20 minutes at the end of the day, to reply or make sure I didn’t have any missed calls or messages. Most of the time, I didn’t have anything that was extremely urgent. I also felt that I would sleep earlier and wake up earlier, and that my productivity, creativity and focus levels were far higher.
What happens to your social life? I realise that many people tend to check their phones even when they’re in the company of another person. I noticed that even when I have my phone, I am more inclined to focus on the person. In terms of my social life, I feel like it made me more relaxed when meeting up with friends, because I didn’t have my phone on me and just had to meet them at the time and place. There is also something wonderful about just being, and not relying and needing to stand there using your phone when you’re waiting for someone.
How do you feel emotionally? What do you do differently in a week without your smartphone? I felt like I didn’t have that feeling of urgency. There was a calming feeling of when I had an urge to take a photo of something beautiful I’d seen or to message someone, to know that I should just breathe in that moment and enjoy it then and there. Not everything needs to be captured by a camera, and most things should be enjoyed through the lens of our eyes. There is beauty and mystery in keeping a moment to yourself.
There’s a question on privacy when it comes to technology, and I think it’s important to remind oneself how much you choose to share. I think our visual self online can be perceived a certain way, but the best way to truly know someone will always be in person.