A week without phone
Two weeks back, I had a situation where I was left without a phone. My wife had offered me to swap the sim card and use her phone. It was a generous offer that I politely declined.
So, here I was without the one gadget that people touch the most in their lives, every single day. They touch the phone more than a girl twirling her hair back to her ears or a guy checking out each and every hot chick passing by the street!
So my adventure began on Monday and lasted for whole 5 days. Here is what I observed.
- Mobile is everywhere
- Every single person driving a car has a mobile phone in one hand at the traffic lights.
- 80% of them don’t use any headphones or Bluetooth device when talking on their phone
- More than 50% of them read their phones and drive. Out of the total 50%, 90% are Indians
- 10% of them have a cigarette in one hand, and the other hand with the mobile phone on the steering wheel
- 90% of the people walking on the street have mobile phones up to the face
- 90% of the people eating in cafeteria during lunch hours eat with mobile phone in other hand. It doesn’t matter if there is a group or no group at the lunch table
- 60% of the people click pictures of the food before they eat. They do typing after taking the picture. I assume they post it somewhere online
- 80% of the people have phone sitting right next to their desk and charging
- 50% uses headphones in office and is hooked to their mobile devices
- 90% of the people will glance at the phone the minute they hear a notification sound. This is true even where there is a work discussion going on.
- 60% of the managers will check and respond to their emails during meetings.
How difficult was the transition with no phone?
Not that much. On the contrary, I was more focused and could see a lot more world, activities, places, and faces that I normally wouldn’t. I actually could hear bird chirps, could observe different people’s reaction, and let my mind wander to any topic, not have to worry about the emails or the phone calls. I could understand the lyrics and the meaning of a song or verse. I could play close attention to signs. Some of the radio ads are really funny.
For e.g – Loose Yourself by Eminem might be the best song ever written. Every single line has a deep meaning to it. It is a very dark song and at the same time very uplifting song.
Or I could see the arrow sign in the negative space of a FedEx logo. Hint - Check the white space between E and X of FedEx logo.
It felt like freedom. It actually did.
Not everything is rosy. I missed the maps, the news, the camera and the mails. There is always temptation to get the latest news or check emails, but once you resist that temptation, it really doesn’t feel much.
We have come a long way from Motorola Razr phones from 2004 to an iPhone or other smart phones. In the same period, social websites exploded. Right from MySpace to Facebook to Instagram to Twitter to Path to Pinterest to Snapchat – all are exploding and vying for our attention. Then there are countless messaging apps that are vying for our attention. This all happened in a relatively short time span of 5-7 years. There is no shortage of free information that is available to anyone who is really interested in trying new things. The truth of the matter is we, as human beings now are wired to receive up to minute information as soon as it happens and share as much information as quickly as possible. We are really dependent on our phones for everything. On the one hand it makes our lives so much better, but on the other hand, we unknowingly, are becoming slave to it.
A week off from the devices was let me appreciate the smaller things in life. I was more focused, less distracted and in general made my life a little better. I received my new phone and I am back to my old habits, but I need to change that. I think I am going to make this a habit of not using a phone for a week each month from now on. That would be a good start.