There are many articles in the universe about the benefits of living without your mobile phone, about the perils of dependence on technology. Let’s be honest, it’s all a bit wishy-washy. Preaching the benefits of life without a mobile phone is Crossfit. You’re a technology Vegan. You're the worst.
And I'm the worst. Because, guess what. I’m about to do the exact same thing.
A few months ago my phone broke. I decided not to replace it for a while. This was -- at times -- a good thing, but for the most part it was frustrating as hell. Here’s what I learned.
#1 Public Transport Is A Waking Hell
Public transport without a mobile phone is like an alternate dimension, it’s like wearing those special sunglasses in They Live. It’s actually the worst.
With a mobile phone, public transport is a nice chance to unwind, listen to some music, play some games, check out some podcasts. It’s a nice, forced break between work and home.
Without a mobile phone, what are you left with? You’re glued inside a metal box, with 40+ strangers. If you’re lucky you’re sitting on a powerfully uncomfortable chair. If you’re unlucky you’re standing with a group of tired strangers… breathing on you.
Mobile phones were invented to help human beings circumnavigate the pain of being a human being on public transport.
#2 Walking Is A Walking Hell
Maybe you and I are different, but I tend to do a lot of walking in my everyday life. I walk from the bus to work. I walk from my office to get lunch. I walk to pick my son up from daycare.
Newsflash: walking is boring as shit.
I mean seriously, am I supposed to just sit there, indulging in my own thoughts? Judging people? Thinking about... stuff? That’s dangerous territory. These walks are a nice little chance to catch up on podcasts or listen to music. Without a phone it’s difficult to do that.
#3 Generally, Living Inside Your Own Head Can Be Terrifying
Mobile phones probably cause anxiety. Constant access to social media, an inability to just let our brains rest -- I get that. But I’m too far gone man. I’m a lost cause.
Having no mobile phone forces you to sit and just be… like, inside your own head. That’s a scary place to be.
I don’t want to let existential dread set in. No sir. Please, somebody just find me something to do. Occupy this restless mind please!
#4 But Seriously, Escaping From Work Is A Good Thing
Being constantly connected does have its obvious downsides. Mainly that it’s become increasingly difficult to separate work from… not work.
With a mobile phone you’re always just a button press away from ‘work’. From checking emails, replying to emails, checking in on projects.
You’re always just a phonecall away from someone with questions, someone with something to sell. That’s an immense pressure and some sort of release valve is necessary.
I will admit: being without a mobile phone often felt like pure relief. I’d walk out the office, and even if I had to spend 30 minutes on public transport, in a sardine can, squashed up against 4500 pounds of human flesh, at least I didn’t have to worry about work for a while.
#5 Yes, Social Media Is A Poisoned Chalice Of Pure Narcissism
It was honestly a transition. Not having access to social media during every single waking hour was actually a little daunting at first.
In short: I’m used to having every single choice I make in life validated by either family/friends/acquaintances (Facebook) or complete strangers (Twitter). For a whole month I did not have that luxury and it made me realise that I truly am just an empty husk.
I’m used to having those retweets/favourites/likes for validation. That makes me a terrible person. I am aware of this. Going cold turkey on that for a while was most likely a good thing. It was like quitting caffeine or sugar -- a headache for a brief time, then… ah! This feels good!
So, a mixed bag really.
#6 If Someone Depends On You For Anything, You Probably Need A Mobile Phone
I’d been living without a phone for about three weeks. I was talking to a friend about it, doing the vegan/crossfit thing. “This is the best you guys, you need to try.
My friend: “Don’t you have two children under the age of three?”
“Um, yes? And your point is…”
It was a bit of a reality check. With a wife, a six month old, and a three-year-old who goes to daycare two days a week I probably should be easily accessible at any point. Accidents happen. My son could poop his pants at daycare, my wife could get in a car accident… anything is possible.
If you have someone who depends on you, particularly children, it’s probably a good idea to have a functioning mobile phone on you at all times.
And that’s precisely why I decided to stop being silly and get a mobile phone again.
Nah, just kidding. It was totally social media. I gotta get those Facebook likes. I need that validation. And the podcasts. I really missed the podcasts.