24 hours without my smartphone
Pippa Rymill takes the plunge and decides to ditch her i-phone for a full 24hours…
I have been warning my friends and family since the assignment was first given that I was planning to drop off the face of the earth for a day in the near future, disconnecting myself from my phone, Facebook, and ultimately- the world; all in aid for a Consumer Behavior assignment. “Why on earth would you want to do that?” they all asked, “just sack it off- make it up”, but the truth is, I was genuinely intrigued by the thought of finding out quite how attached I am to such technology.
Setting a date was trickier than I thought. It couldn’t be Wednesday because I go out religiously, and what if I lost all my friends in Timepiece? Thursday was no good because what if any incriminating photos of me came out from the night before and I needed to de-tag myself before my relatives died of shock? Later, I continued to tell myself, until I realized the deadline was only days away: it was now or never.
I spent the night before catching up with my family on Skype, in case my mother chose this day to send me the monthly “please just mono-syllabically let me know that you’re alive” text. I sent round a mass- text to my closest university friends informing them of my arrangement, and frantically tried to make evening plans for the next day before the clock struck midnight. I posted a rather cringe- worthy, dramatic Facebook status along the lines of “don’t worry, if you need me urgently you can still contact me via email” that was met with a mixture of camaraderie from fellow Consumer Behaviour students, and a “shut up, nobody cares” response from everyone else.
Before I go any further, I must confess that I cheated almost immediately. The fact that I can’t even wake up without my phone alludes to how reliant I really am on the thing. I don’t have an alarm clock and had to be up earlier than my housemates so I may have used my phone as an alarm this morning… but it was on airplane mode, which is ok, right?
By midday I was feeling extremely anxious. Every time I heard a ‘buzz’ I subconsciously felt around in my bag for my phone, before remembering that it was switched off and hidden in my sock drawer.
When I returned home for lunch and none of my housemates were in, I grew worse. I was trapped in this lonely existence with no means of human interaction until my housemates returned home– I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I mean- I had work to do- I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Having a smartphone has made me blood- thirsty for information– so much so that I want to be completely up to date on communications, even when I know there wont be anything interesting. I needed something to fill that gap. I got through an entire 135g bar of Galaxy chocolate in less than twenty minutes trying to substitute my desire to crack and jump onto Facebook with a segment of chocolate.
Later on in the day I had settled in at home, quite happily tucked up in bed watching 4oD and the last thing I wanted to do was get up and walk back to campus for a 5 o clock group meeting. I was so comfy that I seriously contemplated caving, turning on my phone and texting my friend a feeble excuse for not being able to make it. It was only the fact that it was so late in the day and I had already suffered so much that made me get out of bed. I’m really glad that I went, as it proved to the other group members that I was committed, and I spent my walk home getting to know one of them- which was such a better use of my time than being sat alone in my room watching re-runs of Relocation Relocation.
I had the strange realisation that although you would think a mobile device would aid social interaction; in reality it does the opposite. If I had my phone, I would have probably been running so late to meet my friend that I would have ended up going in later by myself, and missing out on a conversation with her. If I had been able to contact my group, I could have put myself at risk of being labeled as ‘that person who rarely shows up’ or disappointed my team with my lack of commitment. I then had a lovely evening with the girls that night because I had arranged in advance to go round to my friend’s house for a catch-up as part of my preparations for being phone- less. Not being able to contact people meant that we had to make a plan and stick to it- no last minute cancelations or being late. Also, because it was already arranged lots of our friends had heard about it by the evening and turned up, which was really lovely.
It’s strange that before this assignment I never thought twice about this habit, and it all started to hit me in a lecture break. By some stroke of (bad) luck I had arrived late to the lecture, forcing me to take one of the end seats amongst a group of international students- none of whom I knew. I felt extremely anxious. I didn’t want to be seen by others as desperately scanning the room for friends: even though I knew they weren’t, I felt like everyone was watching me and I didn’t have my iPhone to hide behind.
It was then that I realised how ridiculous I was being, and stood up. Why would I think that people would judge me for being sat alone when I came in late to a lecture? People have to do that all the time. I quickly found a course friend that I hadn’t caught up with in a while and sat down to chat to her about how her project was going, and we agreed that a few of us should go for drinks some time. It dawned on me that I had wasted so much time sat on my phone as an artificial statement of having friends, when without it I was being genuinely sociable.
Whilst I learned a lot from my experience of being away from my phone, it is not something I will EVER consider doing again. It’s all very well and good reflecting on how pathetically reliant I am on my iPhone in my life, but a reflection, for the majority of my discoveries at least, will be as far as I ever get.