Am I going to die if I ditch my phone?
The question is tricky, isn't it?
While the answer is obvious, why is it so hard for us to live without our phones? Think about it and you will find one billion reasons not to ditch your phone: What if I'm kidnapped? What if I miss a message from my crush? What if I miss my cousin Joe's 1000th picture of his 2-weeks baby? ...
So I did it. Last Sunday, I turned my phone off with the firm intention to reduce its use to less than 30 minutes per month. The rest of the time, it will stay turned off somewhere that can't be easily accessed. Why 30 minutes per month? Because as we will see, I've not yet figured out how to completely break up.
Having a smartphone would feel like having superpowers to someone living 60 years ago, so why someone in its right mind would want to live without it?
The first reason is addiction. There are countless books and articles about how applications are nowadays designed like slot machines to turn us into addicts and increase the time we spend on them. Their developers then translate this wasted time into money, either with micro-transactions, by selling ads, or simply by selling our data. Look in the subway, in the streets, in the parks, or even on the roads. Was our neck really designed to be bent like that all day? And this is before talking about the negativity that these apps promote because it generates more "engagement".
Second, I'm more and more angry at the people tracking everything I do on my phone, everywhere I go, and everyone I talk to and adding this data to my permanent record. All while, I've absolutely zero supervision of what kind of data is collected, who has access, how it is used, how it is shared and how it will be used in the future. I've never consented to be tracked like that, and they know it. That's why they hide it behind huge privacy policies designed to fool us. You make me sick, psychopath stalkers 🤮
Third, when I use my smartphone too much, I feel that my eyes are painful.
Fourth, I noticed that it's very mentally taxing to always have to take care of a high-tech gadget. What to do with it when I go to the beach? Don't forget to plug it in when going to sleep. What happens if I lose it or if someone pushes me into the water at this pool party?
Then, using a screen just before sleeping and just after waking up is detrimental to our health.
Finally, I greatly enjoy being unreachable and being able to focus on my own life and craft.
So for all these reasons where my trust have been repetedly and consistently breached, I'm ending this abusive relationship with my phone.
I have a life, and I need my phone.
The easy parts
Young children to take care of: I don't have any, so nothing to comment.
Qr Codes: Such as boarding passes, Covid certificates, and our soon-to-come "social credit card". I put the QR codes and PDFs ahead of time on my Kindle.
Ride-sharing: Big cities, where I exclusively used ride-sharing apps, already have taxis and public transport networks.
Maps: While it's easy to check for a restaurant online ahead of time or to simply trust our instinct, it's another story for long-distance travel. I'll be honest and admit that my current plan is to use the smartphone of the friend(s) I travel with for direction. Some alternatives would be to use a dedicated GPS device, such as a Garmin, a small tablet such as an iPad mini, or to learn to navigate with only a compass.
As an anecdote, I've been pretty successful at driving without a GPS the past few days: when you start paying attention, roads are arranged in a pretty logical way.
Music: While I have no problem to stop listening to music in the street and when biking, it's always more fun to have some music when driving long distances, so in the long term, I may buy an MP3 player for exclusive use in the car.
Photos: So far, I have no plan other than to rely on the pictures that my friends are taking. I won't buy a dedicated camera as the goal is to be less dependent on technology, not to have more gadgets to take care of.
Calling Grand Ma: I will do it when my family visits her.
Banking: European Banks are subject to the PSD2 directive, which requires them to implement strong customer authentication. And you got it, today, it means clicking on a notification in an app. Fortunately, the operations where a phone is needed are not that common and should not require me to check my phone more than once a month for a few minutes.
That being said, as I really don't appreciate the idea of (modern?) banking, I for sure plan to run the same experiment regarding my bank account sometime in the future.
Internet Hotspot: I currently live in a place where there can be electricity blackouts for hours when a storm hits. While I can survive 48 hours without internet, I prefer to keep my phone as a backup in the case where I really need it.
Some Closing Thoughts
The first phase of the experiment will last for 30 days.
After 1 month, I will evaluate if it had a positive impact on my well-being, and what are the next steps: continuing, switching to a dumbphone, or something else?
So, am I going to die if I ditch my phone? Let's find out! 🚮