For ten months, nobody has been able to call me. For ten months, my attention has not been demanded by this small device in my pocket. For ten months, every time I meet a friend, I arrange a time and a place and that is where we meet. For ten months, I have not had something to look at when there is a lull in conversation. For ten months, I have not known what the time is without asking someone else – I don’t wear a watch.
For ten months, I have not had a phone and it has been glorious.
It started when I went to Korea at the end of 2013. I arrived with a borrowed phone, but it didn’t work. Close to midnight, I got out of a taxi in Busan and headed to a payphone to make a call. As chance would have it, I was seen and hugged before I even had the chance to make the call – crazy luck that the girl who was waiting for me happened to be sitting by the window of the one bar outside which I was dropped – I say crazy because Busan is a city of 3.5 million people.
In Korea, I noticed that when people stopped for more than a second or two, they would instinctively pull out their phones, blanking out the world around them – this happened on subways, at traffic lights, even while with their friends.
In the weeks that followed, I started to enjoy the fact that I had ‘my time’ and I had ‘connected time.’ My connected time was when I was on the computer. I could use Facebook, Skype, and Gmail, without feeling that they were consuming my life. As soon as I closed the lid of that computer, that was it. No one could get me unless they were standing in front of me, talking to me as a real person. Turning off your phone and living life in the moment that you find yourself is a wonderful feeling. No longer do you live life behind the lens, nor do you live life in the third person, talking to people who aren’t with you. You just are.
Whenever I needed to make a call, there was always a payphone nearby. I didn’t have to watch the news, I didn’t have to respond to anything when I didn’t feel like it. Of course my family would have preferred for me to be contactable (and I understand that), but I feel that because of not having a phone, I made allocated, extended times for speaking to them on Skype. All in all, it enriched my life.
Now that I am in the UK for Christmas, I have borrowed a phone once more. It is one of the £9.99 phones that you get from Tesco that does everything a phone should do – it calls, it texts, it tells the time, and it has an alarm. In fact it’s more than that because it has a calculator and a little light on the back too. As a teenager I could have never imagined so many functions on one such tiny device.
So try it, just for a day or so and see how you get on – try turning off your phone and spending more time interacting with the people around you and noticing the places you pass through. You don’t have to turn it off forever – phones are useful after all – but it’s super nice not to have one.
This is a very interesting concept and I often think the same as you, people stop being sociable because they spend too much time on their phones. I’ve personally never had a smart phone even if I can see its benefits, I do have an old phone with me though that I use when Couchsurfing to call or text my hosts, but that’s all about it.
I must try! 🙂
It is super useful for CS, that’s for sure. I just had to turn up at people’s houses or give them my address when I didn’t have a phone.
That s cool, not mention you could save budget for celular. But you could use entry level phone, without data connection. Just in case you need to text or call someone, the idea of being totatly isolated in foreign country kind a freak me out.
What would happen if something urgent came out? Like, you trying to be taken away by strangers. I dont think running for a payphone could save your life.
IDK, but it seem you not that kind a guy who doenst easyly friends and comfort with quiet situation. If i’m travelling the globel like you, my pals would contac me 24/7 just to know where i’m and what i’m doing.
If I’m taken away by strangers (which has never happened despite hitchhiking over 500 lifts), I would have to deal with it myself – realistically, in a foreign country, not knowing where you are, who would you call? As for friends, my personal preference is to post updates on the internet now and again, rather than having to answer everyone.
I love this concept and the actual freedom it can provide in not having a phone. I remember a time not so long ago when you travelled without a phone, without the internet even and we managed. We more than managed.
Someone said that a phone is for your convenience and not the callers. I try to make that true.
However, now that I’m married a phone is now for my wife’s peace of mind. As long as I keep in frequent touch by calls and text she knows I’m okay and my flight is okay. As far as she is concerned that phone reduces her period of worry as to whether I made my destination safely. Other than her peace of mind I think I’d quite enjoy life without the phone.
We did more than manage. I was in a hostel last NYE and in the dorm room, almost everyone was on their laptops when a guy walked in and said, “Hey, anyone remember a time before laptops when we actually talked.” The world changes fast.
I have never had a smartphone and I’ve always made a point not to have one.
I find it strange how people look at their phone all the time and forget they are out with friends and should be interacting with them – not their phone.
I’d definitely recommend too that everyone try having no smart phone (or no phone at all). You start paying attention to people more and life becomes much better 🙂
I am in quite similar situation.
In March 2014 my smartphone was stolen. Now, more than half a year later, I understand, how good is that, that I didn’t bought new one right after that.
The same as you, now I don’t really feel a need to be connected all the time. Since that time I have my brothers old phone with badly working speaker, which means, that it’s harder for me to hear other person. But it doesn’t really matters anymore.