Life Without A Phone

Daily Thoughts

poYQEKQm_WIHow 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Art by Otto Kim

What Did We Do When There Was No Internet?

Daily Thoughts

When I think back to my childhood, I’m grateful for a time when technology hadn’t been as nearly prevalent in our lives. We weren’t surrounded by a screen for a significant amount of the day, and we cherished the moments of going to the cinema to watch a film or played outside in the grass. Children didn’t have any phones in their hands, and there were more eye contact and in-person interaction. We’d hop on over to the neighbour’s house, bounce on the trampolines to play and walk to the beach together. If the internet disappeared tomorrow, what would happen?

There were always shelves of books at home, and almost every weekend we would stop at the local library to borrow books. If I wasn’t practising my flute or piano, playing with the animals or walking around the farm, I’d be reading a book, drawing a picture or playing with my toys. The difference now is that children grow up playing games on a screen, interacting with one another through online and are growing up learning through technology. I felt that we still experienced that feeling in a classroom with only a pen and paper, writing our essays by hand.

Til this day, even at university, I prefer writing with a pen to paper. There are certain things that are still preferred without the internet, such as reading a book or a magazine. There’s nothing quite like having the physical element of a book and being able to flip through each page. Before technology became what it is, life seemed far more innocent and thinking back, we spent a lot of time outdoors running around, and more time talking to strangers. The lack of technology meant there was no form of escapism, and so everyone would talk to one another.

When there were moments that you wanted to escape, you’d draw or read a book in class. I’m sure children now have just as many hobbies, however, I can’t help feel that back then the lack of screens meant that we spent more time exploring with our imagination, and trying new things. We’d spend time going to drawing classes, going to ballet classes, learning new instruments, learning new languages and spending our time experimenting what we like and don’t like, and finding our own unique ways to entertain ourselves and use our time.

In many ways, it was far more polite back then, because if you think about it, anyone who uses their phone constantly when they’re with other people, are not really present there with them. Creativity meant writing little stories, going outside to explore nature and always craving a sense of learning. It meant researching and getting books out to do your projects. I still remember listening to Beethovens Tape to sleep, and the fact that there is barely anyone who still listens to the tape, even though it was only over 10 years ago.

Simplicity and interactivity would be the two things that I think of, that have changed in a drastic way. The way we interact with people has changed immensely, and the simplicity of life has become noisier with the chaotic nature of the online world. In anything, there requires a balance, as too much excess of anything makes it a negative. This means Social Media, the internet and the online digital world can have their positives, but it’s all a matter of balance. We live in a time where things are changing at a rapid rate.

We live in a time where businesses rely heavily on having the internet, students need the internet in order to do research and individuals have the internet to stay connected to news, entertainment and socialising. Meeting people (whether friends or dating) were done in person, sending an email meant sitting down to write a letter and going to the post office to send it and calling a friend meant sitting on a chair where the phone had a wire on it. There was a sense of greater patience we had because the internet is so greatly convenient and fast. I still remember rather than spending 2 hours online, we’d spend 2 hours playing with the cat or going out to slide down the hills on cardboard boxes.

There was a sense of innocence. There was a sense of still not knowing many things, but now with the internet children can know things from such a young age. Remembering life before the internet was a part of our lives reminds us of how much has changed. It reminds us to stay true to our own core values in a trending world. It meant meeting someone in person, before knowing what they looked like from a photo or their profile. It meant playing games together, rather than sitting in a circle looking down at a screen. I miss those elements of simplicity and not knowing everything, but each period of time is a different stage in history, and this is just one of them.

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964)