An Unintentional Phone Detox...

Building on the drama of the week before last and my phone thief, none of that changed that fact that I still had a broken phone. The end of that annoying AUX cable was still stuck in the 3mm phone jack and it was not coming out. The inside of a biro didn't work, I couldn't find pliers small enough, I didn't want to use superglue, and I didn't have that magical .508 mm drill bit (also known as a #76) that apparently just pulls the thing out (somehow?) Because I apparently had liquid damage which voids the warranty, the apple geniuses didn't want to remove it (even though the back was open, and apparently it would just have been a simple task of pushing it out from the other end). Conveniently I am a paranoid person and I had phone insurance. So I called them and they were happy to fix all of the things (including the liquid damage).

This meant that last week I put my phone (and stupidly, with my sim still in the phone) into a bubble wrapped lined box and put it in the mail. I put my phone in the mail, with no back up phone to use.

I thought it would be fine. I'd go a week without my phone and it'd be fine. What was the worst that could happen?

The worst that could happen is that I had no idea how much I used my phone, or all the terrible phone habits I had.

One is that I like to take photos of my food, and my shoes, or flowers and it annoyed me when I saw a shot I wanted to document and couldn't. I don't share most of my photos, but I was still annoyed that I couldn't take the shot.

Another was the constant need to check my phone, but there were always triggers. Hearing the vibration as someone elses phone went off was one trigger. Another was someone else checking their phone. Someone else checking their phone made me realise how often people do that, usually mid conversation or thought. At first I thought it was a tinsy bit rude, but after a while realised that it's just a learned, but generally quite natural social behaviour now. I do it, when I have a phone.

One that really bothered me was that I'd remember something, and not be able to do it right away. There was no instant gratification. Things like emailing my sister, or messaging Lina to check in. Checking my bank balance, or how cold it was outside before I venture out, or whether the trains are running on time. Especially on the tube, on the tube I'll just be thinking away and remember something I wanted to do. Turns out on a train without a phone is particularly rubbish. I decided that I'd take a book with me next time, but because I couldn't set a reminder I forgot, and always got on the tube with no book.

Navigation was a big one. I purposely didn't go anywhere new, and if I had to I'd look up the way before hand. Mostly I relied on my knowledge of the area, but navigating London without a map in your hand is serious pain. Sure they have maps everywhere, but really I just wanted that little blue dot to self orientate and tell me when to turn left. I only got lost a few times, and it wasn't so bad. But it felt less like an exciting adventure where you're exploring new territory and more like an 'oh fuck - I'm lost again'.

The other big one was being able to be reached, or reach out. It meant that anytime I wanted to meet up with someone later I had to rely on them to not pike. If we planned to meet at 9pm by the waffle stand outside Oxford Circus on Argyle St they had better there, because there is no way they could get in touch with me to say they're not going to be there. On the same note, if I said I was going to be somewhere I made sure I was going to be there, because I had no way to tell them either. It made organising things a lot more tricky, but also made me feel like I couldn't pike.

Filling the blank was a big one. If I'm standing by myself, waiting, it's awkward. It's awkward to just stand, or wait or whatever. In lines, at tube stations, waiting for someone to come meet you, sitting at a table by yourself. My phone gave my brain something else to think about, and made all those waiting moments (and there are many throughout the day) pass swifter. It was awkward waiting without it. I was forced to be present, alone by myself, and it was awkward.

Turns out that while I prefer having a phone to indicate that I'm preoccupied, neither being present nor being distracted by my phone is any different than the other. Other than the lack of awkwardness with having a phone in my hand to direct my attention to, I didn't feel like being present (without a phone) made me a better person in anyway. I didn't feel like I was more 'in the moment' or 'living more' or whatever. Mostly I was bored.

While I was phoneless, I mostly used facebook + email to keep in touch. From a computer, usually at home or at work. Which meant that while I was out adventuring in the city, I was off the grid. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I have no idea how people did this before mobile phones. We're such a fickle generation, always changing our minds, constantly moving and being very fluid. How do you keep up if you're not connected to the wider network?

It's been a week, and my phone came back today. I'm mostly relieved that I now have a device to listen to tunes on while I'm on the tube.

Have any of you intentionally phone detoxed, or downgraded to a feature phone?