Smartphones have such a dramatic influence on how we go about our daily lives, they make basic tasks simpler and provide us with answers to life’s daily questions with ease. But with all this power are we becoming a slave to our devices? As part of one of my Ideas For Good health challenges, I recently spent a day without my phone just to make sure that I could in fact still live without it. This is a recount of my smartphone-less day.
After relying on my smartphone for the last 5 or so years, I was somewhat anxious about switching it off and leaving it at home as I hurriedly made my way out the door toward the train station.
Destined to prove to myself that I do not in fact suffer from nomophobia, I pushed the thoughts of why I wasn’t listening to music on my walk out of mind and tried to distract my brain by taking a closer look at my surroundings; morning joggers, suit and tie types half dressed jumping into their cars, mothers kissing their kids goodbye as they drop them off at school.
I jump the train and spot a seat; my hand instinctively dives into my pocket. For a split second I panic thinking I’ve lost my phone before my conscious thought kicks in and reminds me of today’s blight.
I get to work and head for the conference room for the morning meeting. A few of my colleagues give a quick glance up from their portable screens and mumble a barely audible ‘good morning’. I find a seat and look around to see if anyone is up for sharing a story from the weekend, what I notice, and what I too would normally be doing, everyone is busy checking their emails, trying to get a head start on the day.
The meeting wraps and I take my barely legible notes back to my desk where I now have to double-hand the key deadlines for sales paperwork and client appointments that week into my Google calendar, again, something I would be able to do on the fly with my smartphone.
These trends continued throughout the day as I sat at my desk in order to not miss being contacted by potential clients. I had emails from clients telling me I was unreachable as my mobile is the first and sometimes only number I give as I am constantly out of the office.
Before heading home, I called into a friends place. Surprised by my unannounced visit she welcomed me in. I explained my challenge and she willfully turned her phone off so I didn’t feel left out. We shared some wine and sat on her balcony and talked.
A few hours went by and I realized that this is possibly the longest uninterrupted conversation I have had with anyone in an unfathomable amount of time. I began to wonder what a release from technology’s overwhelming grip could mean to the personal relationships in my life. Would I be a better friend? Or would I be left out? Disconnected from the online personalities that we all work so hard to maintain? Joseph Heller knows what I’m talking about.