What I Learned by Not Having my Phone for a Week

Trying to get off social media in general is something I have always experimented with. This stemmed from the fact that some of my fondest memories were when I was up north as a teen where I had absolutely zero reception. Being present in the moment with my family was great, but as I got more and more dependent on my phone I started to fear missing out on social events with my friends. Missing a text message or a Snapchat meant that I was no longer included in events. I didn't reply fast enough, and people would get frustrated when I couldn't reply to them within the hour. As I grew older, I found this mentality of always being on-call haunting me. I was constantly anxious and worried. Are they going to be mad that I didn't respond? Why are they not responding? Are they mad at me? What did I do wrong? I found myself getting increasingly paranoid and anxious around a light flashing on my screen, or a lack thereof. Then suddenly, in the middle of my first term, my phone gave up in the middle of the night. It would be a week before I could get a replacement and I was thrust into a world without a phone. It was probably one of the best weeks of my life. Here is what I took away.

1. Waking up wasn't as hard as I thought.

The second my phone died I was so worried about being able to get up for classes. How on earth was I going to get my sleep-deprived self to class if I didn't have 20 alarms blazing in the morning like a fire drill to get me up? The week started with me getting up super early as my anxiety took over, but as the week went on, I became more in tune with time. My body, in a way, became its own clock and I was able to consistently wake up at the time I needed to be up by.

2. Trust became huge.

Whenever I met up with friends during this week, I had to take a leap of faith that plans wouldn't change last minute and that they would actually show up when they said they would. I had no way of contacting them to see where they were or if they were running late, and no way of knowing if plans had changed. I really learned to trust people in that week – to trust that they wouldn't stand me up and that they would be on time.

3. Not having a clock is difficult.

I, like most people, don’t have a watch. Why would I need one? I had my phone to tell the time. Well evidently, this week I didn't have my phone and therefore did not have a way of knowing the time. I didn't know what time it was unless I asked someone or looked for a clock around the school. Which, I may add, there seemed to be less around than I remembered. It was truly disorienting, and I have been wearing a watch on my wrist ever since.

Even though I have my phone now, I am still struggling with social media. I tell myself that I need it as a networking tool and that it’s necessary for me to maintain the relationships that are important to me; however, having unplugged reluctantly for a week, I realized that a phone is not necessary to maintain a successful life. The one thing I can take away from this experience is that social media is not and will never be a substitute for human connection.