One Friday not long ago I tripped on an uneven stretch of pavement. While I had no trouble keeping my balance, my phone flew out of my hand and the screen shattered on the pavement.
Between trying to figure out if I should pay to upgrade my existing contract early or buy a temporary phone and then waiting for a new phone to arrive, I was left without a phone for two weeks.
My gut instinct was that I was going to be fine.
I’m a grown adult. I can function for – I didn’t know how long it was going to be, I figured a week or two at most – without one of the numerous gadgets I have. It would be inconvenient, certainly, but I would live.
The first problem I encountered over those two weeks was stopping my family from worrying about me. I usually text my dad every evening and my nan every couple of days, just checking in, saying goodnight, seeing how things are, letting them know I’m alive and safe in the big city.
I countered this by immediately messaging my brother and sister from my laptop when I got home to get them to let my dad know what had happened. Over the full two weeks, they were stuck in the middle of conversations between me and my dad as we discussed replacing my phone.
If I had been an only child, this probably would have had more of a significant impact.
Still, it didn’t stop my nan worrying a bit and, when I did get a replacement phone set up, I got five messages from her telling me to let her know as soon as I could talk again.
And that my cousin had had a baby.
The second problem was my alarm. I have a normal nine-to-five job and, if I want to be on time, I can’t get up any later than 8am. I suspected that I depended a little bit on my phone’s alarm to get up on time.
I realised I would need a replacement as I was going to bed on Sunday night.
After panicking for a while, I checked the clock on my laptop. It had an alarm. Relieved, I set it for 7.30am to go off every weekday.
The next morning, I woke up entirely of my own accord at 7am to check that I hadn’t slept through it.
I soon learned that the alarm on my laptop only goes off if my laptop not asleep. Given it sleeps after about ten minutes of not being used, this made it useless for me.
I only heard the alarm on my laptop alarm on days when I’d woken up early and happened to check the time moments before it was due to go off.
Luckily, my body clock had developed better than I gave it credit for and I was not once late to work. Somehow.
It was difficult getting hold of some of my friends. I could let people know I wouldn’t be as easy to access via social media, but the impact was noticeable.
Going without my phone made me realise just how lucky I am to be able to be so flexible in what I do with my time. Being able to text people to find out if they’re free at the last minute is a luxury I’ve taken for granted practically since childhood.
I had to cancel some engagements which had depended on one or both of us being in an area at approximately the same time.
It was awkward having people round to my house because my doorbell doesn’t work. I had to hope my friend had mobile data and could message me via something I could access from my laptop.
The plans I had with more reliable friends were safe, though. I remain grateful to those people for being in my life and for being so easy to keep around.
In a short time – perhaps as long as a few months – before I’d dropped my phone, I’d got into a bit of bad habit of perusing social media before bed.
I hadn’t thought of this as a particularly negative thing. I didn’t have any trouble sleeping. I never forced myself to stay up for another few Tweets.
But I did notice that I got to sleep more easily without my phone. I’d read a book, which I would do before checking my phone anyway. By the time I turned my light off it was always because I was ready to sleep.
Even though I still don’t think my bedtime phone checking habits are awful, I’ve noticed a difference and I’m taking note of it.
That’s all I’ve learned though.
Part of me wishes I’d had a more profound experience.
I need technology to do my job. I’m on my laptop or my office computer for most of my day.
Not having my phone was an inconvenience because I lost all the notes I’d made on it. I still haven’t remembered all of them and, in future, I plan to back them up more regularly.
I kept most of the same plans and, between a regular routine of work and sleeping, I didn’t feel much impacted.
I also didn’t notice a sudden reconnection with the world around me.
Maybe it’s because I try to make an effort to live in the moment anyway. Maybe it’s because I’m not enormously attached to my phone. Maybe it’s because I avoid using my data as much as I can because I know it gets expensive.
I’ve learned a bit.
I’ve mostly learned that not having a phone makes everything in the modern world a bit less convenient.
But I’ve also – sort of – learned that I’m not entirely dependent on technology. And I suppose that is comforting, in a way.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.