This week I got to spend a bit over three days without a phone due to unrecoverable failure of my old phone and a delay in getting a replacement. When I discovered I wouldn’t have a phone for that stretch a time, my immediate reaction was semi-panic – what would I do without my phone!
I was sort of surprised that, in reality, it was way less of a hassle than I expected. I attribute this to a few things:
- I have so many devices that there were only a small number of apps on my phone whose functionality wasn’t replicated at least one other place.
- I wasn’t teaching and had a fairly unstructured schedule this week. I wouldn’t have been using my phone to keep track of meetings or to read email and put new appointments in my calendar on the fly, even if I had had it.
- Similarly, I was mostly around my house or my office where my other devices could be easily accessed.
I still figured I’d end up reaching for my phone out of habit but I was pleasantly surprised that there were only a few times that happened, mostly in my dentist’s waiting room. I quickly switched to jotting down shopping lists on paper. I did miss my phone as a media player – both in my car and around my house – but I pulled out an old iPod and listened to the radio while driving and it was fine.
In fact, what I ended up most missing my phone for was not any of the smartphone functionality, but as a PHONE. I had access to other phones, but why I tried calling a family member from an unfamiliar number to arrange a time to visit, it took many tries to get them to pick up. This was a consistent problem – nobody answers unknown numbers anymore! I also found myself more cautious while driving because I was aware that if I got in an accident or the car broke down, I couldn’t call for help. And I had to wonder – would people be as quick to stop and see if you need help if they figure everyone of course just has a phone with them to call for help themselves?
I’ve got a phone again now and I am, of course, using it just as much as before. No revelation that I am going to go device free from my technology mini-break. But it was interesting to see that what I missed most about my device wasn’t what I would have expected.