It has been a week since I’ve been without a phone. It is not much, but considering that people cannot stand a few hours without their phone, I think I can give some insights on what its like to not have one for more than a couple of days. Long story short, I lost it and prior to that I cancelled my carrier service so not only I am without a phone but also without a number. Add to this the fact that I am absent of social media and, by today standards, I am basically unreachable. I decided to wait a while before I get myself a new device just to feel the experience.
Rather than telling you how liberating it is to be away from the internet all the time(it is, for the most part) I will go ahead and tell you a couple of things I started noticing once you go phone free.
People are terrified of being alone.
For most people their phone is a drug. A way of escapism into the comfort of familiarity in an otherwise isolated environment. They don’t use their phone to get useful information or to communicate with friends and relatives. No, they glue their face to the screen because they are afraid of what lies outside: The darkness, or to be more precise, being left alone with your own thoughts.
It is fear what drives these people to spend hundreds of dollars in equipment and internet service. Their phone is their best friend, their lover, someone they can trust. Without it they feel awkward and insecure, vulnerable. It is astonishing that even when you are surrounded with people you feel the need to check your phone, just so you don’t feel lonely for a second.
Next time you reach out your phone think for a second why you are doing it. Often it is because you feel the need of human interaction.
Internet has become an addiction.
Chances are that, unless you own a business that requires you to be always connected, you don’t need great amounts of data in your cell phone plan. For me, having 1 Gigabyte of data was enough, I don’t have Instagram or Facebook, so my need for internet was very little. However I see people going up to 10 to 20 Gigabytes. When I ask them why they need so much, given that they have WiFi in their homes and workplace, they always say that they need it for when they are driving, waiting for someone, or just grocery shopping.
These are subtle indicators of internet addiction. This is linked to the first fact of this list, an inability to cope with being just simply by themselves, alone.
On top of that, the vast majority of people use the internet to check out memes, pornography, Tinder and fake news. Only the 1% use it to do some actual research, engage in meaningful interactions or so business. The rest use it for garbage that fills your head with wrong ideas and it’s also a huge time waster.
You are less anxious when you are off the internet.
There are statics out there that show how many times a person unlocks their phone with no particular reason other than to check if there is something new to look at. It is depressing. Imagine being disappointed hundreds of times throughout the day when you check your notifications and you see nothing. Or worse, you see bullshit from whats app groups about crap that does’t concern you. Either way it is always a dull experience to see nothing of value in those notifications and you are left unsatisfied. Even the most popular girl who spams dozens of photos on every social media gets anxious and sad when their pictures don’t reach the 100 like mark.
When you limit the means of communication then you start expecting less. Instagram is one of the most depressing social media platforms, offering you a window to the exciting life of strangers, a life that you cannot afford. Facebook makes you hate your friends who post political opinions or crappy pictures of their mascots. Just get rid of the unnecessary information. Receiving a compliment in real life feels 1000 times better than getting lots of likes in Facebook.
There are downsides of not having a phone of course. The main one is how the world works, you need to be active, present and connected. I am not advocating for the life of the hermit without technology. Just by cutting on social media and limit the use of the internet to a few minutes per day, you can increase your quality of life tremendously. You will start investing more in yourself, getting more exercise and reading more books. In other worlds, you become a better person.