In this blog, I’m going to discuss a year in my life without a smartphone. This piece is intended to be satirical and poke fun at both my obsession, and wider society’s obsession, with smartphones. I also share what I consider to be my second ‘first’ digital experience at the end. Thank you for taking the time to read 🙂
When I was 17, I lost my smart phone. The ins and outs of how I lost it are not important but needless to say, I couldn’t believe that I had let this happen. I was upset, as I felt as if I had lost a box of memories. All the photos I had taken over two years were gone. All the text messages with loved ones I would never get back. It sounds dramatic but at the time, I honestly felt I had lost a part of me that I wouldn’t get back.
Now, once I had had my moment of feeling sorry for myself, the frustration of not having my smart phone sank in. How would I be contactable until I got my phone replaced? How would I listen to music when I was out? How would I get around town without having google maps to guide me? And how would I both share and consume content on social media?
These were all the thoughts whirling around my head as I fell asleep, promising myself that I would come up with a solution in the morning. But then I woke up, went to school, saw my friends, played hockey, did my homework, and suddenly, it was the evening. ‘Huh’, I thought to myself. ‘That wasn’t as bad as I expected’. After a few days, the time came to buy a new phone but instead of opting for another smartphone, I bought a Nokia. Yes, you read that right a Nokia blokia.
Why did I choose that instead of a smart phone you might ask. Well, there are there are many good reasons to choose a Nokia, but I’ll just give you three. First, you don’t need to worry about it getting broken. Seriously, those things really are indestructible, and after the stress of losing an expensive phone, I wanted something cheap but reliable. Second, it’s a conversation starter. When you pull out your Nokia on a night out to ring your friend whose somewhere in the crowd, expect someone to comment on the brick you call your phone. But the third reason is the real one I chose to buy a Nokia and that is that I simply wasn’t ready to give up the strange kind of freedom I had felt with not being online.
I think one of the best ways to explain this freedom is by comparing how I used to pass the time in a waiting room when I had my smart phone, to how I passed this time without it. Before, I would pull out my phone and reply to any messages. Then, I would just scroll aimlessly though Instagram for however long it took for my name to be called. But the first time I sat in the Doctor’s waiting room with my Nokia, I quickly learned that there’s only so little you can do on a it when you haven’t received any texts. So what do you do instead? Here are some ideas. Strike up a conversation with someone else in the room. As an introvert this would never be my go to, but for any extroverts out there, this is could be fun. You can also do the complete opposite of this and imagine a backstory for every person in the room. This can be a surprisingly entertaining way to pass the time. If you’d like something more practical, I’d recommend bringing your hobby with you. Enjoy reading? Keep a paperback on your. Starting a knitting project? Why not just take your knitting with you. Love gaming, bring a game console like a Nintendo switch to the waiting room.
The Present Day
These days, I no longer have a Nokia, as I eventually returned to the digital world after spending nearly a year being offline for the majority of the time. To be clear, I’m not sitting here trying to convince anyone to ditch technology and live off the grid. The reality is that we live in a digital world, and while sometimes it can be difficult to navigate, there are some things that are really beautiful about this world. Personally though, I found that by stepping out (at least partially) of the digital world, I appreciated it’s beauty far more than I had before. For example, even though I knew how handy it was in pre-Nokia times to be able to text my friends in an instant, I had taken it for granted. Now, especially with living abroad, I really value the ease in the way I can contact them. By returning to the digital world, I felt I had a whole new first digital experience: one in which I found a freedom in consciously choosing to be offline in certain situations, while also appreciating the many advantages of my time spent online.
Reading this really made me think about how much we rely on our phones nowadays. They are almost our security blankets! From google maps, to facebook housing groups, to just plain scrolling on instagram, we really rely on our phones for too many things. GPS, finding a home, entertainment, and more. Your experience stepping away from the digital for a period of time is inspiring. I’ve realised when I’m out for a day and don’t check my phone, its very freeing. Even though this sounds cliche, you truly get to experience life on another level. Great blog post!
This really made me think about how over-stimulated I am on a daily basis. Even thinking about sitting in a waiting room without my phone makes me feel bored! I really envy you that you had an opportunity to try living without a smartphone in a smartphone-centred reality (even though it wasn’t exactly your choice in the beginning). I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for something like this but it would be fun to discover new ways to get around the way you did!