Recently, I went for two weeks without a cell phone. Technically, I still had the phone, and could take pictures and access the internet via Wi-Fi, but I wasn’t able to use it for calls or texts. I’m happy to say that I not only survived the experience, but actually found it rather liberating.
I didn’t purposely set out be without a functioning phone, as I assumed my Canadian provider would cover the USA, if with additional charges. However, it transpired that my no-frills plan did not include the States at all, so I was limited to contacting people by email, which I usually did via laptop at my accommodation.
I’ve gone for a long time with an old phone, no data and virtually no apps, so other than the odd missed messages and a couple of times when I had to ask someone at my accommodation to call a cab or an Uber for me, the lack of connectivity didn’t really pose a problem for me. I didn’t even think it was such a big deal until an Air BnB host remarked upon it in her review of me.
In some ways, this speaks to the bigger issue at hand – the growing expectation that people and information will be available at all times through our phones. While such access can be an asset at times, not at the expense of losing our ability to be present.
Phone addiction is a proven reality and ‘fubbing’ – snubbing the person you’re with by being on your phone instead – is rampant. Being so reliant upon and immersed in our phones is also causing us to lose our powers of concentration and deduction.
Phones are useful tools – but they’re tools – not something we can’t live without. Let’s not wait for a technological implosion to figure out how to problem solve and communicate with one another. Let’s cultivate being present in our environment and interacting with one another in person in the here and now.