Life Without a Phone

Luke Ma (Contributor)


For the past month, I have been scraping by without a cellular device. The reason why is rather uninteresting, so I won’t talk about that here. Life without a phone has been quite enlightening to me. Of course, it has been a pain being starved from the technological world, but I have also come to realize many things about my everyday life I doubt I would have noticed otherwise, and this has really brought me to see things in a new light, and this despite my initial mourning phase.

At first, it was absolutely horrendous. I used to be stuck on my phone like glue. I would browse 4chan and tumblr during class, snapchat while I was out, text while I was with friends, and call people through the night. So when my phone broke, I was still twiddling my thumbs around for a
week and reflexively reaching for my pocket every two minutes or so. I’m not sure, but my hands might even have been twitching too. Even today, I still do shake every once in a while. Beyond the various addiction and withdrawal symptoms, life was, and still is, very inconvenient. I can’t text when I want to find friends. I can’t Google Maps something when I’m lost. I can’t check the bus schedules when I‘m out. Heck, I can’t even check the time myself (watches are expensive, okay?). Even more than that, I miss late night texting. I miss my drunken snapchats. I miss taking conceptual pictures and editing them until they look nothing like the original. We often hear somebody emphasize that their phones are their lives and that they would be unable to live without them. This is often true. In that little block of plastic and metal, we store almost the entirety of our relationships, our responsibilities, and our recreation. We don’t realize how deeply reliant on these devices we are until they’re gone, and then we’re left dumbstruck, staring at our hands.

Even so, this month has proven to be incredibly eyeopening for me. Without my phone, I have begun to notice some small things. The texture in a piece of wood. The reflection in a puddle. The sound the leaves make when the wind blows. The beauty in the tiny details really brought me to my knees in awe. Furthermore, I began to notice people. I began to talk to them to ask for the time, and by doing that I sparked a conversation, and came to peek at their stories. I started talking to my friends more, and for the first time in a while, I began to finally listen. I came to appreciate the wonder behind each and every one of us. The loss of mobile connection brought me to a human connection, in ways an emoji
simply can’t convey. On top of that, I have also become more productive. I don’t need to put my phone away when I study. I no longer have to worry about what I texted and what it meant and all that reading crap. Instead, I began to literally read and rediscover literature. I have started to go to bed earlier, since I don’t text until the wee hours anymore. Of course, I still procrastinate, either on Facebook or by reading articles or books, but it’s hardly as bad as when the source of distraction is always within your hand’s reach. There is simply so much more to life than what
fits on your little (or huge) touchscreen.

All this phone talk has gotten my fingers twitching again as I write this, so really, it’s not something I’d like to continue indefinitely. However, it’s definitely something I would recommend anyone to try just for a while, so they can see for themselves how entangled they’ve become in this web of mobile communications. Because for all the fuss we make about reading Humans of New York or Pigeons of Boston or whatever on Facebook, it would be much more fulfilling to go out and ask for a stranger’s story in person.