Before I even turned my phone off, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. My iPhone and I are certainly a clingy couple: You rarely find one without the other. I always hold it, recharge it when it’s low and even buy it gifts, such as my carefully selected phone case. When it beeps throughout my day, I listen.
I was required to give up my phone for 24 whole hours for a sociology assignment. During the 24 hours, I was separated from much more than a device.
My day was different from the very beginning, starting with how I woke up. After scavenging my room for an alarm clock the previous night, I realized I did not own what some consider an essential home product. I lucked out, since it was a weekend and it did not matter when I woke up, but the event did make me consider the usefulness of a bulky alarm clock if my phone were not available to ring me awake.
Something I completely underestimated was my dependency on my weather app to determine what I do and what I wear. Without it handy, I did something I didn’t usually do: turn on the TV. I quite enjoyed hearing the forecast as well as the news, and it’s a ritual that I now try to add to my mornings when I can.
I can’t drive, so Uber and Lyft are basically my life source. I use these apps several times a week to take myself to where I want to go or where I need to be. My saved credit card details and Apple Pay setup lead me to only occasionally carry cash with me. Living in a city, considering the numerous public transportation options and easy walking access, getting around wasn’t a huge issue. Instead of Google Maps, I relied on the directions given to me by other people — a refreshing change that I surprisingly did not mind.
I recall family vacations when I was younger: My parents, with their camera-less Nokia brick phones, would buy disposable Kodaks to document family moments. They eventually upgraded to a digital Canon camera and eventually to a DSLR. These all now hide at the back of a closet, however, as iPhoneography has become the dominant form of photo-taking. They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but I was left with just memories when I didn’t have my iPhone 6 camera to take, edit and post pictures with. Anything sad, interesting or bad that happened throughout the day was left for just me, not my Snapchat friends, to know.
Sitting on the train and bus, I realized just how much time-killing entertainment clicking and scrolling provided me with on an ordinary day. Scrolling through what people are doing with their lives, playing games, listening to music, or even just pushing buttons and staring at a screen makes time feel as if it’s going faster, and is something instinctual when I don’t have a focused task. Without a phone, I was forced to feel more in the present. I looked out the window, listened to the people around me, the only thing left for me to do was to contemplate.
When I broke my fast, I felt relieved and secure as I regained access to everything my phone contained. I was interested to see what I missed on social media, only to realize nothing I received was vital — it could’ve waited. I was amazed by how even the most basic apps in a small and portable device have revolutionized productivity by easing day-to-day activities. Smartphones, although a time-consuming addiction, are an integral part of modern daily life. Lacking access to the internet and communication in an interconnected world made routine tasks more difficult and inconvenient. When used too often, however, this technology can be counterproductive, distracting and disassociating from important, personalized interactions. A detox is surely a good idea every now and then, but the effectiveness and usefulness of smartphones have become a near necessity in modern society.