I’ve been off the grid for 5 days. (I like to chant “OTG! OTG!”) I was a little afraid my life would fall apart while I was “gone,” and maybe it did a little bit: my gmail is apparently full and refusing emails, and who knows what else. I admit that makes me anxious; I’m not sure who might not try to re-contact me once I purge my email inbox. But, I suppose I can look at the bright side: that also means I have a few less emails to wade through upon re-entry.
Before this experiment, I tried smaller ones: in the past couple of months I have regularly been doing two hours without my phone while going for a run and then stopping by the grocery store on the way home. Not relying on my phone for entertainment while running and to remind me of my shopping list give me a sense of independence I didn’t know I missed. And, when I get back from these little excursions, I often am not overly excited to look at my phone.
So, when I turned my phone off for the past several days, I expected to enjoy the freedom. But I also thought I would miss the ease my phone offers: both emotionally and logistically. And I think I did at first.
In the first day or so, there were moments when I was waiting in line, or for a menu, where I instinctively wanted to grab my phone and scroll Instagram. There were times when I got back to my room and automatically thought “oh I need to check and see who has texted since I was last with my phone.” There were instances when I wanted to know the answer to something quickly and wanted to immediately turn to Google. And then sometimes I’d almost reach to carry my phone with me “just in case.”
After a day, though, these urges began to fade. It was a relief to not have to carry my phone, or to have to check on its charge. The autonomy I had felt on my two-hour trial periods increased exponentially: I didn’t need my phone. And, more notably, I didn’t want it.
I connected more deeply both with my best friend I was spending time with and the strangers I encountered each day; I listened to them more because I was never phone-distracted or even pre-phone-distracted (when I’m wondering what might be happening on my phone). I noticed more things around me in the world because I was never ever looking down at a screen. And, when I wasn’t engaged with other people, I found myself meditating, which, over a few days, gave me a deeper sense of peace then I’ve been able to maintain for the past couple of months.
I never felt bored. I never felt lonely.
As the end of the five days approached, I started to dread re-connecting. I tried not to waste any energy thinking about my worries, but I did brainstorm ways to stay as disconnected as possible once I returned. When I first started dating the man I married, in 2007, he used to leave his mobile phone at home during the day: he said it "lived" there. I remember being angry at him; wanting to be able to text him to arrange things mid-day. But now, in a totally different world, I see the appeal and plan to leave my phone at home as often as possible. And so, now, as I am moments away from turning my phone back on, I find myself only slightly terrified of the other side.
**24 hours later**
Turns out there was a disaster waiting for me. But, like one of my best friends said, wasn't it better to have the space away for a few days, since the disaster would've been their either way? (Yes.) I'm pretty sure I was much better equipped to deal with it after my time away anyway.
Oh, and you can email me again. JIC you're one of those emails I missed! 😂