This may seem like a very #FirstWorldProblem post at first, but I’d like to address some observations I made while living life disconnected from the web for a week. Think about it - when was the last time you didn’t have your smartphone for more than a day? Perhaps a moment of panic when you realized you’d left it on the kitchen counter, followed by thoughts of the friends you wouldn’t be able to contact throughout the day.
Recently, my iPhone was stolen out of my purse at a music venue - the thief unzipped my bag while I was wearing it. I didn’t feel it because there were so many people around that I didn’t think twice about being jostled about. New York giveth, and New York taketh away. Thankfully, nothing stolen was irreplaceable.
The first thing I noticed about myself in the coming days was how much more present I was in face-to-face interactions. I took a day trip to Sleepy Hollow the morning after my phone was stolen. The train ride was about 45 minutes, and since I didn’t have my phone I spent my time looking at the scenery instead of scrolling. I noticed throughout the day when people would default to checking their phones. This is certainly a social norm nowadays, but it really sticks out when you don’t have a phone to look at yourself. After a couple days of being with a dumb phone - I had an old flip phone that could call and barely text - it felt quite liberating to not be “on” all the time, and people actually had to call if they wanted to talk to me.
What is baffling to me is how unaware people can be, especially in a bustling metropolis like New York. I observed so many people step out in front of cars, or walk into another person, or trip over something because they were looking down at their phones. I observed a lot of this, and it really made me think - is that text message really worth your life?
I’m back in 2018 now, and have equipped myself with a brand new iPhone so that I too can continue to peer into the endless abyss that is a little blue screen. I survived for the first 18 years of my life without an iPhone. I didn’t die when I was “disconnected” for a week; it was an unexpected, albeit important lesson in being more present and aware.