What Being Phoneless Taught Me

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So I dropped my cracked-iPhone in the toilet on Saturday afternoon.

I know, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, or a good one, depending on how you look at it.

Phoneless Lessons: What Being Phoneless Taught Me

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There I was, hand-in-toilet, questioning why life had to have such a sense of humor, and I realized there was more to living than this. This thing I gave so much value. This electronic device I trusted and entrusted with more than I even recognized.

Okay, the realization didn’t happen quite that quickly. After the mini anxiety breakdown and PDPD (post-dramatic phone drop) shock, I only had two choices:

  • stay home and sulk in my phoneless reality
  • or make the most of this new found (phone) freedom.

The latter locked me in. I tossed the phone into a Tupperware bowl of rice (after all, a girl’s gotta try) and headed out. I ventured to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first time; the Egyptian art gallery was most fascinating.

Then, I dined at Sea with friends, a thai food restaurant in Williamsburg, and capped the night at Kinfolk for live music performances by Mari World and NanaBcool (btw, Nana just dropped his EP 2AMCruise, you can listen to it here).

Of course the habit kicked in to record a quick video of what I was doing or to check the time or to see what was happening on Twitter, until reality replied nah, be in the moment. I must admit, there was something refreshingly freeing about the disconnect.

After realizing my phone was a goner, the initial blow did sting—a lot. Mostly the thought of losing last text conversations with my father, along with unfinished poems and vlog recordings. But everything I’ve ever needed I already have. The memories. The words. The ideas. The love. Everything.

I imagine my father making a joke about it all, heartily laughing as he says,

See, y’all young folks just wanna post post post, and tweet tweet tweet, when you have a whole world out here for you. Now you gotta chance to look up.

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Look up from phone screens. Look up at people in their eyes. Look up at our surroundings. Nature. Birds. Trees. Sky. Laughs. Smiles. Humanity. Life.

I allowed a phone to carry my most intimate thoughts and memories, instead of trusting my own. I gave it the power to capture most of life’s moments, rather than living in those moments myself.

I turned something without true meaning into something that meant the world to me. I consumed and consumed and consumed everyone else’s thoughts, pictures, stories and memes so much it became too entwined with my own.

We’ve become so accustomed to sharing our entire lives inside of a glass screen that we’ve forgotten to experience life outside of it—or better yet, without it.

They say if it’s not on social media, it’s as though it never happened. Well, life was life before social media. Before the likes, comments and imaginary sense of acceptance. Before the flawless filters, cute captions and perfectly angled selfies. And life will be life after.

This phoneless episode forced me to take a much needed step away from the social world into the real world, with real people and real moments and real connections.

When I get a new phone this week, the true test of will begins. Although it’s only been a few days, I’ll have this experience to remind me that every now and then I can put my phone down, and take the time to look up.

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