I have slowly come to the realisation that over the last few months, I like others, have become terribly addicted to using my mobile phone. Numerous studies have been completed proving that receiving a notification on your phone release dopamine in our bodies. How utterly astounding is this? I wont lie. I am a high user of my device. I enjoy, scrolling through Instagram - bombarding others with funny memes. Sending lengthy voice messages on Whatsapp describing my day to my bestie and completely utterly useless quizzes on Buzzfeed. Not mentioning my constant perusing of Grindr and Tinder. Enough said. In a earth shattering decision I turned my phone off for a day. Ground breaking eh. I needed to test myself and see how I coped without a mobile device to obsess over. I turned the device off on a Sunday evening and it was not powered back on until after 9am on the Tuesday of that week. That way I could get the full experience. Here was the result.
5:30am I begrudgingly arose as normal and headed to the gym before work. That journey was quiet. Very quiet. No phone means no music, podcast or audiobook to accompany me on my route. Working out without music is not as bad as it sounds, you notice how loud others grunt but it wasn't as de-motivating as I presumed it would be. Winner. In-between reps I had developed a habit of going on my phone. Upside of this being my time in-between reps shortened dramatically as there was nothing to entertain myself with. Walking the rest of the route to work was a real eye opener. With no ear buds in place, I noticed my surroundings more and also noticed how truly switched off I had become. I took more notice of shops I pass everyday and made many mental notes to re-visit some of them at a later date.
During my work day, I am in work mode, so no phone wasn't that big of a deal. Until there was a little down time. I counted 17 times through the course of the day that I went to reach for my phone to check it. It turns out I use it as a little treat to myself whenever I accomplish some work task. Do not even ask how lonely a bathroom trip is when you do not have a newsfeed to browse. The walk home was not the quiet lonesome journey I had expected. The sheer amount of tourists and commuters you need to battle past in central London is truly astounding. People are rude. They walk slow. They annoy. Music truly does drown out the terrors you encounter on the journey home.
The following morning, I used my phone to listen to music on route to and during the gym. I listened to the podcast Lore as walked to work. I took it out of airplane mode when I arrived at the office. I expected to be inundated with numerous messages questioning my absence from my friends and loved ones. Bitch there was hardly anything. You know what had been inundated with communication I had missed? My bloody emails. The land of subscriptions.
What did I learn from this harrowing experience? I can live without my phone. Life goes on, as a result I now put my phone into airplane mode in the evenings to give myself some distance. I missed Music, Audiobooks and Podcasts the most, along with the interactions with my distance friends. As an expat this is particularly important. It allows me to keep my relationships strong with my family and friends around the world. I don’t use social media as much as I thought I did but I do enjoy aspects of it. I have also given myself the challenge of un-subscribing from numerous mailing lists that clutter up my inbox. I would like to put the challenge out there. Live a day without your phone. See how you get on. Be warned. Visits to the bathroom will be less enjoyable.