A Phoneless Existence: 24 hours without my smartphone

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Ram Reyes

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I went a whole day without my smartphone.

This may seem like a life or social death emergency to some, but others might shrug it off as no big deal.

Almost everyone I know has a smartphone, and it is impossible to find anyone these days whose face is not glued to a glowing screen — the magical looking glass into the digital world.

To answer the question “Are Smartphones bad???” with a simple yes or no answer is too simplistic and oblivious to the truth of the matter. To arrive at an unbiased, fair and balanced, nuanced opinion on the matter, I decided to go a day without my iPhone 5s.

On Feb. 1, 2016, I embarked on a 24-hour journey of a phoneless existence.

When I woke up, I immediately, out of habit, reached for my phone, hoping to check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. But before I unlocked it, I remembered I was doing this article and felt a sharp pang in my heart.

I thought to myself, “Oh God, I can’t check Twitter.”

“What if Kanye is tweeting some epic memes right now??? I’M GONNA MISS OUT ON IT!!!”

But I resisted the urge. I turned off my phone and left it on my desk.

When I got into my car, I instinctively tried to grab my phone and plug in my music. But I didn’t have it, so I had to listen to this thing called the “radio.” It’s kind of like Spotify but there’s no way to choose what music you want and you can’t even skip songs!

Throughout the day, I would, out of habit, reach into my right hand pocket to check my phone only to remember it was not there.

I noticed that I was more conscious of my surroundings and people who, I must add, were on their phones.

I told my journalism professor what I was doing and was immediately shamed for it. I felt like an outcast and unconnected to information, people and the world.

The caveat to my phoneless existence was that I was now forced to either stand in awkward silence when I was in a conversation with someone or actually try to say something. I usually chose to quietly stand there and reflect while observing people hunched over their phones.

The buzzes and beeps of others’ Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram notifications around heightened my isolation. Here I was confined to my physical form, only able to interact with the people around me.

Not that I don’t like interacting with people around me, it’s just that there are people that I’d rather be chatting with right now. Ours is the generation of choice. We have the ultimate control over whom we interact with.

And this is the greatest source of anxiety. People have the choice to either willfully ignore or interact with you, and the concept of time and place is completely distorted now.

People of past generations didn’t have this luxury, so it is easy to understand why they might think we are antisocial. I likewise recognize our inability to learn how to communicate effectively.

You can be in a room full of people but choose to interact with people from the other side of the world, just because you can. Or you can choose to ignore messages and spend time in the moment with people you may or may not care about.

It may simply be that the people of this generation just communicate much differently, even if the form is weird and foreign-sounding to older people, it doesn’t mean they don’t know how to. The interface has evolved so much that now you have more of a choice in when, how and where to talk to people.

It’s not even just a choice of interaction but a choice of doing whatever we want at that present moment with our phone. It’s the power to escape into the Internet and learn, watch, do, tweet, instagram, snap or facebook whatever.

When my day was up and I came back to my phone to reflect on the original purpose for giving up my phone. I am still left with a question — Are smartphones really bad or good?

It really depends on the person and that person’s choices and priorities. You can use the tool to create, interact or escape. It is simply up to you to decide on what to do.

So, I grabbed my phone, turned it on, went on Twitter and posted a meme. Life is normal again.

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