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A Week Without My Smartphone

How a week without a smartphone taught me to rethink my relationship with tech

iPhone calendar
Photography by Ales Nesetril

I’m a confessed control freak. Despite my strive for Stoic-like peace of mind, I occasionally fall below my standards. Since dedicating the next two years of my life to doing freelance writing, my primary devices (iPhone and MacBook) have taken on a new level of significance in my life. Before leaving my old job, these trinkets were just that. Now, with my career depending on the internet, these things are necessities. So when my brand new smartphone began operating by itself, I lost my shit! All control was stripped from me, stolen by hardware—I had no hope of fixing myself.

Left with no other choice but to relinquish my control, I sent it away for repair, leaving me without the device I rely on for much of my day to day life. Once my initial (admittedly pathetic) grief was over, It dawned on me that this may yet hold a valuable lesson that would benefit me down the road. I never expected withdrawal symptoms, but just hours after returning the smartphone, I began to feel what I can only describe as “ghost buzzing” on my leg, emanating from the pocket I usually kept my phone. This incident made me question the level of dependency one must-have on a smartphone, for a person to feel the device’s presence, even if it’s not there.

My second musing came some days later while drafting this very article. I noticed that I hadn’t checked any social media in days. Thankfully, the addictive nature of social media has never held much sway over me, but I usually check it two to three times a day. It’s a useful tool to promote my work, but due to a lack of app exposure, these time-suckers had remained unchecked. In our increasingly digitalized lives, we often fail to follow through on the beliefs and philosophies we hold in our regular lives. In response to this, digital minimalism has gained traction over the past year, thanks in no small part to Cal Newport’s fabulous book, aptly title Digital Minimalism.

I devoured the book voraciously, absorbing as much advice in anticipation of my smartphone’s return. With a new outlook on my digital life, I stripped my phone of all unnecessary apps, removing their eye-catching influence. I removed almost all notifications, quieting my life from the constant buzzing and bleeping of unimportant status updates. Minimizing one’s life isn’t a difficult task, but it does require intention and focus. Above all, we must have a reason for change, whether that stems from your own choice or the one dictated to you by necessity. Either way, never waste the opportunity to better yourself.

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