6 Things I Learned While Living Without A Mobile Phone

6 Things I Learned While Living Without A Mobile Phone
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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.


  • #1 It’s a bit hard to believe you had no old tech around the house that could be used for public transport entertainment. No mp3 players, game boys, old phones?

    #2 You shouldn’t be walking whilst on your phone anyway! I’m sure your spine appreciates not being hunched over a phone all the time!

  • #3 Get an old clam-shell phone (dumb phone), then you are always contactable. No need for a smartphone. I do that and it saves me a lot of money

    P.S. thumbs up to #2 from dazzler. I hate people using their phone while walking, pay attention to the world around you A-hole.

  • #1 & #3 there’s this wonderful new technology out there, you may not have heard of it, it’s called “books”. You can read all sorts of different types of stories, it’s a bit like a Kindle but made of paper and ink.

    #2 Walking without music used to bug me back in the day (I started with an original Sony Walkman and over the years migrated through the various technological updates). However, I found that I’d miss out on stuff, and it’s actually that bit less “safe” wandering around when you can’t hear a damned thing.

    #6 It’s a wonder the human race survived as long as it did. I mean god, how did I survive school when my parents didn’t have a mobile phone? I think the whole idea that we need to be connected all the time is a falsehood. Kid gets sick at school? It’s not like they’re gonna let them die, if they can’t find the parents they’ll take sensible action. That’s what trained professionals do. Worrying about your wife having a car accident and them not being able to reach you on the phone is just that – worrying.

    ps: Yes I realise the article was mostly a humour piece. It’s just that some of the comments resonate because people actually act that way.

    • #2 – bone conduction headphones. Music and your ears are completely uncovered and open. Also great for a lot of workplaces where you can’t wear headphones.

  • #3 i think this should be mandatory for EVERYONE. too many people spend time escaping their own issues that they dont actually deal with them and think, ‘hey, maybe i really am a self obsessed asshole/know it all/ignoramus/’ or ‘hey, i really need to look at why i feel this way and what can i do to be a better person and improves someone else’s life’

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