The day I spent without a phone

(Sound the alarm and cue the dramatic music)

If I wrote this 3 years ago, I would have slapped myself, but like it or not, this is a provocative story headline in 2016. Don’t think so? Try to count how many times your phone was less than 3 feet from you at any given point in a day.

This is not a think piece to preach on the importance of digital disconnect, or my way of telling you that I’m going to move to Brooklyn, grow a beard (too late, already did), and trade my iPhone in for a Motorola Razr. I simply spent a Sunday (more like 6 hours of it) without a phone and wanted to share what I learned.

  1. I was observant. I went to the mall and had the time to truly watch how people behave and interact. I saw about 83 people walking with phones, paying no attention to the world around them. Another 17 shockingly did not have a phone visible. Maybe their battery was running low, or maybe they were testing the phone-less water like I was. I saw 2 different women crying, and a few families that were engaged in conversation. I can recall faces and the exact order of 30 or so retail stores. My main takeaway was very few smiles. I’m sure that there were plenty of emojis though.

  2. To quote Ricky Bobby, I didn’t know what to do with my hands. This is a sentence that sounds dumb when you write it, but I told you that I’m here to share my learnings. Both hands in pockets? Left hand in a pocket? No hands in pockets? I’m just so used to walking with one or both hands gripped around my precious device. It felt like I lost a finger or a body part.

  3. I had a conversation with a stranger. After seeing a Barnes and Noble, my first thought was, “wow, I didn’t know that they were still in business. Good for them.” I ventured in and was amazed by the size of their section dedicated to vinyl. I approached the woman who was manning the register (probably in her early 70’s) to get her take on the comeback of vinyl. She honestly had no idea why, but shared that it was driven by teens, and they were typically buying between 1 and 5 records at a time. Would I have engaged this woman if I had my phone? Hard to say for sure, but I’m guessing that scrolling through Twitter would have been my priority at the time.

It’s amazing how much you’re able to think when you’re not consumed by your device. Typically, I tell myself that I’m constantly on social to stay up to date on everything – to consume content. While that’s true, it’s a give and take relationship. I’m hoping to find a balance. For now, this 6 hour phoneless period was enough for me to realize that some good can come from leaving the device at home sometimes.

Welp, that’s enough writing, I just got a few Snapchat notifications that I need to check out.