A week ago today, my phone broke.
*Cue dramatic opera music*
In this day and age, something like this is viewed as a tragedy. When my phone decided to restart itself and freeze on the loading screen, I was left powerless. Two trips to T-Mobile later, I still have no idea what was wrong with it and why it suddenly decided to fritz out. But they said they’d sent me a new one, out of a warranty. Cool. So I sat back to wait. The first day, it was hard. I kept checking my pockets, looking for it, and spend quite some time researching online, to see if I could fix it. No avail on that front, this phone was broken.
After accepting I was going to be phoneless for a while, I discovered quickly that I relied on my phone quite a bit. One, I no longer could communicate with home. And considering I am 1,300+ miles away from home at a summer job, that was a bit of an issue. Luckily, I had my laptop, so I was able to contact the familia through social media and let them know I could no longer text them or call them. Crisis averted. And, bonus, I taught my parents how to use Skype, so that was a blast. Two, I no longer had a camera. That was the biggest issue for me, as I went to the beach, Epcot, an aquarium and a museum all whilst my phone was broken, and couldn’t take any pictures (or post on Instagram, the only app I really care about). Three, I no longer had a way to tell time or had an alarm. Apparently, I need to buy a watch. And an alarm clock (though my laptop worked well as a minor replacement). Four (and the most humorous one): being from out of town, I looked up the address online for the nearest T-Mobile store and, not having a car down here, my friend/coworker gave me a ride. We got in the car and she asked where we were going. I immediately pulled out my phone and tried to turn it on so I could use Google Maps to direct me there. Quickly, I remembered my phone was broken and Google Maps wouldn’t work. And my friend has been lucky enough to avoid buying a smartphone. So we got out of the car, went back to the office, pulled up the directions and printed them. And then we went to store.
I’ve only had a smartphone for a little over a year. In a previous blog post, I wrote about how I didn’t like how dependent/attached I was becoming towards it, always feeling the need to check it because it was connected to *so* many things. Having it break and realizing how much I actually use it — for both beneficial and pointless reasons — reminded me how much technology dominated our world. And I didn’t like it.
Enter days two and three without a phone: I use my laptop to communicate with home. At this point, I’ve accepted that even though I get to go to all these cool field trips (aforementioned above), I won’t have a camera to capture them. I was still pretty bummed about this, but I’m no longer constantly looking for my phone or feeling the need to check it. By the time the weekend came and went, I was almost relieved to not have a phone to bother over, watching my coworkers have their noses glued to their screens and constantly looking for an outlet (but for good reason; we’re in charge of 100 kids for three weeks, after all; that communication is key).
A week later: new phone arrives in mail. My coworkers are more excited than I am. I wait to open the box, as I was in the middle of work and didn’t want to mess with it, then. Eventually, I open it, put in my SIM card and charge it, and TADA, new phone. Which I promptly ignore and then go back to working. After this post, I’m going to work on getting my contacts back and letting me know they can text me again, if they wish. But I’ve learned a few things from this experience, which is the entire point of this post, anyway:
One, not having a phone kinda sucks. For one, I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere, because people wouldn’t be able to contact me — and I couldn’t contact them — if there was an emergency. As someone who really thrives on alone time, there was a couple times during the field trips where I would break off and go off on my own. Maybe not the smartest move, considering I couldn’t contact anyone, but we had meeting points and they were public areas where I was constantly running into people from camp, so I’m not a complete imbecile. But, I was supposed to have a day off over the weekend, and I wanted to go to the beach and relax, but decided against it, because I didn’t have a phone. And that inconvenience kinda sucked. It was also hard to do my job without a working phone, but luckily, my coworkers were very flexible and helpful.
But, on the other hand, having a (smart)phone kinda sucks, too. Going a week without one made me realize how much I use mine, constantly feeling the need to check it or use it. It was really, really nice to unplug and disconnect from all of the social media and just enjoy the moments around me. I didn’t have to worry about replying to that text or how I missed 106 GroupMe messages while I was in the shower for 20 minutes. Walking around Epcot or the museum, instead of focusing on getting the perfect picture (I am a photographer, after all), I simply looked around and enjoyed; I simply experienced those places for what they were, not treating them like a photo assignment. That was a liberating feeling, as well.
Now that I have my phone back, I’m really excited to take pictures again. I’m glad that I can call my parents whenever I want now or text my friends and see how they are doing. But so far, I haven’t downloaded any apps besides Instragram (photographer, bro). And I’m not sure how many I want to download in the future. Or, maybe if I do download them, I might turn off the notifications so that I can check social media if I want to, but not necessarily be alerted every time something happens. Having that sense of freedom of not being bombarded by apps and notifications was really nice. Today, I wrote for a couple hours and never checked my phone once, even though it sat right beside me, just because I was slowly growing accustomed to not checking one. Two weeks ago, I would have checked it at least once every 15 minutes. I’m not kidding. The amount of alerts and other things that constantly pop up on my phone made me feel like I constantly needed to give it attention. But now, I realize that I can live a life where that doesn’t have to be the case (yes, I know that is obvious, but the reminder was needed). You can have a phone and not be glued to it. So that’s what I’m going to do: try to live a little more life and a little less technology. Try it. You may be surprised.