It’s true; I haven’t had a phone since 2017. Granted, that was only a few weeks ago, but still. I can’t remember the last time I went more than 24 hours without a cell phone, let alone weeks!
I wish I could say that not having a phone was intentional, that I decided to start the New Year off with a digital detox, but I’m not that brave. The universe, however, had its own intentions for my “new” year, starting with forcing me to detach from my phone. On December 30th, 2017, my iPhone started its slow death…the dreaded “Apple boot loop,” after a few days of my battery declining by over 80% within minutes. I sort of knew it was coming, but it wasn’t until chatting with Apple Care for what seemed to be 4 hours that I finally had to embrace it – 'twas the end of my iPhone 6.
This is where many of you probably go, “Stop right there! iPhone 6!? Of course it died!!” After further inspection a week later, a “Genius” informed me that a prong inside of its charging port was toast. My options were to claim the phone on insurance and get a new 6 or upgrade to a newer iPhone. I needed to think on it; I wasn’t in a rush. I had already survived a week without a cell phone, so what was a couple more days?
I really enjoyed not having a phone. It was so freeing! In fact, I got so used to not having one that I really started not wanting a new one. No one could get a hold of me, unless I had given them my husband’s cell phone number, and even then, the only relayed messages I received were of emergent nature. No text message questions with self-explanatory answers, no vibrations from incoming emails, and no guilt for not responding on demand. Ironically, I felt so much more connected compared to everyone else around me, able to be present in each moment, enjoy the nature surrounding me while walking outside, and filling my time with meaningful activities.
Not having a phone made me realize how much pressure I always feel to look at it. At a stoplight? Glance at Instagram. Waiting for water to boil? Login to Facebook. Brushing my teeth? Check email. Lying in bed? Let’s see what’s on Snapchat. Commercial on TV? I wonder what the 15-day forecast is on my weather app. Doing squats? I think I just heard a text message! OMG, make it stop!! It’s INSANITY!
Just writing that felt exhausting…but it’s literally what we do with our lives, all day, every day. I realized that we had a serious problem on our hands (literally) during Christmas, when my 20-month old was most excited about the Minnie Mouse purse she got that came with a cell phone in it!!! And why does she want her own phone?? Well, because she sees one glued to mommy or daddy’s hand all day! Ugh…
But how do we (in the voice of Mr. Wonderful) STOP THE MADNESS!? How do we unplug, especially when we need to keep up with everything as Boss Lady Moms?
Here are 3 major things that not having access to a phone taught me:
1. There is no obligation to see everything. I think I had this subconscious pressure to view everything my friends posted on Instagram, every time I logged in. I would keep scrolling and keep liking until I knew I had seen everything new (I obviously don’t follow that many people, or this would have been a full-time job!).
I already feel so much more freedom now because there’s no more self-obligation to see it all. I look at social media for as long as I feel like it, and I see what there is to see. If I start to feel disinterested with what I’m looking at, then I’ve given myself permission to just exit. Nobody’s feelings are going to be hurt because I didn’t see their #tbt pic!
2. You cannot get back missed moments. It’s hard to admit, but there are definitely moments I’ve missed from having a phone in front of my face. Something as simple as a spontaneous giggle from my daughter, but not knowing what she found so funny because I wasn’t paying attention, is really sad. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you’re interrupted by a text message that you discreetly look at, but then realize that you completely stopped listening to what that person was telling you?
We miss important moments now more than ever. Of course we snap that perfect picture of the moment, almost to prove that it indeed happened, but did we really experience it? Will we remember what it felt like with all of our senses, or will we only be reminded of what it was like because we have a picture of it stored on our phone?
3. Responding right away is a prison you’ve created for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, responding in a timely matter is important – for some things. There is a likely a small group of people in your life that deserve an immediate response from you, and having frequent dialogue, even if it’s digitally, can be helpful.
The prison you find yourself in is the one that doesn’t allow you the space to not pick up the phone when you hear the ding of a text message or email, especially when you’re supposed to be having “personal time.” The constant pressure of having answers right away for everyone who needs them from you, sucks away so much of your energy. It doesn’t allow you to protect your positivity. I know we can all admit that we’ve had a work-related text message or email that has turned a good day into a not-so-good day, but I think it’s mostly because we weren’t in the right state of mind when we received it.
When I was newly married, I decided to commit to our relationship fully by turning off my work email account on my iPhone for 1 year. Everyone was so used to having me on demand 24/7 that I never took my Boss Lady hat off. At first it was a hard adjustment for those used to having me so incredibly accessible, but I can tell you that ultimately all it did was give me a little bit of my sanity back! No one suffered as a result. In fact, the people I regularly interacted with probably got a happier, more balanced version of me!
So the big question – Do I have a phone now? YES, and I’ll tell you why:
1. Driving without a cell phone feels like flying without a copilot, especially after the accident we had a few weeks ago. It’s important to be able to get a hold of someone when you’re on your own. Plus, GPS.
2. We don’t have a landline at home, so again, cell phones are important for emergency. There’s no way I could possibly be an effective Boss Lady Mom, who works from home half the time, if I didn’t’ have a phone to make and take calls from.
3. Convenience. As first-world as this sounds, I missed my Starbucks app! I love that I don’t have to have my wallet with me to order at Starbucks and that I can use and redeem rewards for items right from my phone (this is not a Starbucks plug, just one example of many apps I actually do use for daily life). Being able to look something up in an email or via Google within seconds is also a huge asset to my productivity.
Ultimately, I can’t imagine a life in which I do not use a phone at all. However, the way in which I use one moving forward has changed, since I was forced to experience life for a while without one. I do encourage everyone to do a "digital detox," maybe once a year, for at least a week. While I was without a phone I did still use my laptop, so I wasn’t 100% detached from the outside world, but I could’ve been. There were definitely days where all I did was have good conversation, read, spend time outdoors, eat yummy food, and laugh; that’s what the good life should look like most of the time, and I hope to teach my daughter to value these things over how many “followers” she has.