This summer I was out dancing with friends, mildly intoxicated. I had a lovely evening, and dropped it like it was hot – that was until I tried to check the time and realized that my phone was gone. To be honest, until recently I like to claim that my phone was stolen, because it makes me feel a little bit better about the situation. In reality, I chose to go out with a purse that was adorable, but only had a small snap-button to keep it closed.
Ever since then, I have used my old iPhone 5, which has more issues than Britney Spears in 2007. That was why it was replaced in the first place. In addition to the lock button not working and frequent overheating, the phone likes to randomly freeze and not work again until the battery dies down completely. This often takes at least 24-hours, and happens several times a week. (Note: If you are thinking, “Heather, why don’t you just get a new phone?” you may be forgetting that I am a university student and that I have a net worth of $3.79).
So, for three months now I have found myself sans phone – out in the world. It is insane. Honestly, life is so strange with no phone. Making plans with friends is still fine because I can do it through Facebook; however, all of the parties involved actually have to show up on time, at a specific meeting place or things get confusing. I’m not able to send my classic, “Sorry running late! Be there in 10!” (If you know me, you have probably received this every single time we have plans…I’m sorry…I love you). Once I am with my friends, I have noticed how much time everyone spends together, but completely zoned out looking at their phones. Everyone will be so engaged with the phone in front of them while I stare at the spider in the corner of the room, sighing deeply trying to get them to pay attention to me.
I have also started noticing a lot more in the world around me. I have become an avid people-watcher and like to try to create fictional stories about the lives of those that I see out in public. I study the look on people’s faces, their body language, their clothing. Who are they? What is happening in their lives? My creative juices get flowing. Sometimes I fall in love with these strangers.
The routes of travel that a frequent quite often look much different when I’m not staring into my phone, mindlessly liking the Facebook posts of people I don’t even know well enough to call an acquaintance. The world is actually very pretty. It makes me want to take photos a lot more, which I cannot do because I don’t have my phone. This is a bitter-sweet part of the experience.
Yes, it may be more difficult to find the brunch place I am supposed to meet my friends at. I may miss out on plans from time to time because I never got the message inviting me. It has forced me to be more responsible and organized. What I have realized by having a part-time phone is that life really is not that boring. I’m not saying that the things that I stuff my brain with on social media is absolute trash. I still want to see my friend’s fire selfies, and as many cute dog videos as possible. That being said, I know just as much about the strangers I see on the other side of the coffee shop, as I do of 90 per cent of the people I follow on Instagram. I don’t need to spend so much time consuming shallow information about their lives.
I have a lot more time to reflect on my own life, and how I am feeling. I am inspired by things I encounter every day. When I see my friends I have so many stories to tell, because I haven’t already ruined them by trying to condense it into an unclear 400-character explanation. At the end of the night, I can still catch up with what I missed online all day, but during that day it is just me and my imagination.
The self-reflection is a key component. I really like myself. I am great. I didn’t think that before. Turn your phone off every once in a while. You are probably pretty great too.