I Spent a Day Without a Phone and It Didn’t Suck
I left my phone at home today, and it didn't suck.
I decided to leave my phone at home today when going to work, to just see what it would feel like. I don't think I've spent a day without a phone in my pocket for the last 10 years, and it's scary how dependent I am on it.
I will run through a couple of pros and cons, some challenges, and what it all felt like, as well as whether or not I am going to continue leaving my phone at home.
I honestly didn't experience a whole lot of challenges during my day, but a couple of small things were kind of annoying.
1. Public transport
In, Stockholm - the underground system (SL) has a pretty good app setup where you can buy digital monthly travel cards, and then just scan a QR code when entering the Metro, and since I didn't have my phone with me, I couldn't use this feature.
Instead, I either had to buy a physical travel card or single-use tickets. I went with the latter since I didn't want to spend an extra $100 just for this experiment. This was a bit annoying though, since I traveled by metro to work, to the gym, and back home - so I had to buy 3 single-use tickets.
2. Paying for stuff
I've used Apple Pay exclusively for the past 3 years and never brought a debit card with me. Now I had to dig out the card that's been in the drawer for all this time.
Paying with a debit or credit card usually isn't that bad of an experience though, since you can "blip" your card against the reader to pay for things. Unfortunately though, by "blipping chip" wasn't working... so I had to manually enter my 4-digit security pin every f*cking time I wanted to pay things - which is pretty often. This was pretty annoying.
Another challenge I experienced was a less practical, and more psychological one. I quite often caught myself wondering what was going on on my phone back at home. Was I getting a text from a friend, a DM, a Tinder message - or was someone texting me in need of an emergency. Of course, nothing of this had happened when I checked my phone in the evening, but there was this sense of missing out I felt during the day.
4. Checking my email a lot
I have a bit of an email addiction in general, but this was definitely increased today. I found myself opening my email app a lot more than I usually do, to make up for the loss of dopamine hits I usually get from checking my phone.
5. Everything was so quiet
I quickly realized by leaving my phone at home that I wasn't able to listen to podcasts or music (it was a Monday, so I craved Discover Weekly) on my morning and evening commutes. This was a really weird feeling. I felt like a bit of an outcast, just sitting there and looking out the window, grappling to find new places to focus on, without meeting other people's eyes. And also, everything was so quiet without AirPods in my ears. I usually always have something playing in my ears.
6. No scooters
A small thing, but somewhat frustrating was the realization that I couldn't ride those electric scooters. You need a phone for those things - hmm. I usually grab one of those to and from the metro back to my apartment - which is a bit of a bad habit to be fair.
Okay, now I have covered some of the challenges I felt today - so let's go into some of the more positive things I experienced.
A sense of calm
Throughout the day, I felt really calm - almost free. Since I didn't have anything playing in my ears throughout the day, and no small screen in front of my eyes constantly, I felt this overall sense of peace and calm, that I hadn't felt in a long time.
It somehow felt like a lot of problems disappeared. It felt like I left a crying baby at home needing constant attention, and I got some time for myself. Some real-time, to just talk with me in my head, look at nature, look at people, and just be. It sounds cliché, but that's how it felt. I did feel naked without the crying baby for the first few hours, but then I forgot about it, and moved on with my day.
Okay, so - now I've completed this experience and seen what a day without a phone was like. The question now is of course whether or not I will bring the phone with me tomorrow. And, I think this depends a bit on what sort of day it is. Today was a day when I didn't do too much. I went to work, then to the climbing gym, and then back home. I didn't go to any events where I felt like a needed a phone to function, which I might have felt if I traveled, or went to a meetup where I wanted to add people on socials, or take pictures.
The sense of calm I felt was pretty strong and enticing to prolong. That feeling will probably fade away in some, but I can't imagine it will ever be worse than having a crying baby in my pocket.