This is the first in a week-long web series that documents Preethi’s day-to-day experiences while forgoing a relationship with her cellphone. Check back daily for the next post.
My phone is my lifeline. I stay in touch with my parents who are two oceans away, I share pictures, Snapchat my friends on the go, access my emails, write down my thoughts on my notes app, and share moments of my day-to-day life with others.
My mother, on the other hand, thinks it’s a life problem. So, when my editor asked me to write a seven-day series where I don’t use my phone, I thought, “Prime opportunity to show to everyone that I don’t have a problem!”
As I took on this challenge, I had to let everyone know that I would be MIA for a week. But this made me ask myself, why did I find it so necessary to let people know I wouldn’t be carrying my phone for the next week?
I even spent a lot of time talking about this challenge to anyone who would listen. Looking back, that was my first red flag that this experience was going to be telling about my habits — the good and the bad.
I check my social media at least once an hour, even though I’m aware that there’s nothing new for me to view. I unlock my phone to open my apps and close them even though I do not retain information that I see. So, what happened when I snapped out of this culture on day one of seven? I honestly do not have big news for you!
I was very aware of myself, and the fact that I was breaking social norms, as well as my own. I saw a pattern of reflective lights on a window pane and reached for my pockets only to remind myself that I didn’t have Snapchat or my phone. I stood in line for coffee, observing people around me; everyone was on their phone! I mostly made eye contact with the oldsters on campus. Grabbing my coffee, I felt a little eerie; everyone’s eyes were glued to the phones and the floor. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had one reaction — “HELP.”
I travelled on the 95 B-Line to get to Harbour Centre and listened to the silence and busy shuffling of people which soundtracked the bus. The grey in the sky grew on the city and the people within. Maybe I’m exaggerating or maybe I never looked up and around enough before. My reflection on my first day without my phone was grey and dull. I wasn’t too agitated about not having access to my phone.
However, I can feel a storm coming. I can tell you that I’m excited about it, about testing my limits. I’m excited about tracing every minute (almost) of an hour. Day two is yet to come.