Art by Jacqueline Lopez
Transparency Item: The Perspectives section of the Graphic is comprised of articles based on opinion. This is the opinion and perspective of the writer.
My heart dropped to my stomach as I frantically patted my jacket pockets, searched my belongings and retraced my steps, hoping against hope my precious device was still within my reach.
I instantly had a gut feeling that something terrible had occurred and I would not be able to find my phone.
I ultimately realized someone pickpocketed me and stole my phone.
Being pickpocketed affected me more in that moment than I realized. Someone took my personal property and that they violated my safety. My second thought was all my memories on my phone like saved contacts, pictures, notes and more could be gone or in the hands of untrustworthy people.
Then the question crossed my mind: What happens when I have to face the world without a phone? As I was bawling my eyes out in utter despair, I did not realize that soon I would feel a great relief from social pressures.
Living in the 21st century without a phone seems unthinkable. How else would we communicate with the outside world?
Would I have to Instagram direct message all my closest friends and family for the time being? Would I be able to navigate this technologically advanced and centered world, device-less?
I was scared and I knew this week and half without my phone, before getting a new phone, would be a daunting task. I also knew I could do it and I would take this time to appreciate what life would be like “off the grid.”
Full disclosure: I have been using my laptop to send emails and Instagram direct messages occasionally, but I have told my closest contacts that I would embrace staying off of platforms.
I used to wake up each morning and immediately reach for my phone. Now, I take this time to look out my window and enjoy my time to have a nice breakfast.
I used to instinctively take out my phone and mindlessly scroll through applications when I waited for friends. Now, I am forced to observe the environment around me.
Relatives have described me as an observer since I was a child, and it brought me right back to watching how people interact with one another and noticing things in my environment I never gave a second thought about. I connected with people next to me who I might not have ever acknowledged if I was staring at my phone.
On one hand, not having a phone can be liberating. Without a constant stream of notifications and updates, you are free to fully engage with the people and experiences around you.
I have been able to experience the world without the filter of my phone’s camera lens, which I think has been one of the hardest aspects of not having a phone. I love to take pictures –– many joke that I take an obsessive amount of pictures and share them with the world, but it’s one of my hobbies.
I like to capture the beauty around me. However, not capturing these photos allowed me to truly be present in the moment. It also made me realize how fleeting life can be and if we don’t take the time to truly see something with our eyes, we could miss it all in the next second.
On the other hand, not having a phone can be incredibly inconvenient. Without a way to stay connected to the internet, I did struggle to be efficient and stay on top of certain tasks.
Without a way to call or text, I missed out on important communications from friends, family and colleagues.
And without a way to capture and store information, I struggled to keep track of my schedule, tasks and responsibilities. Having my laptop wasn’t the most efficient way to get things done, as I would always need a Wi-Fi connection.
Of course, the impact of not having a phone will depend on a person’s individual circumstances. If you’re someone who relies heavily on your phone for work or communication, losing it can be a major setback. Although, even for those who use their phone more casually, the experience of going without one can be illuminating.
Losing my phone served as a reminder of the importance of balance. While our phones can be incredibly useful tools, they can also be a source of distraction, stress and anxiety, according to Butler Hospital.
By taking some time away from my screen, I felt I was reconnecting with the world around me and staying in communication with those who valued me.
I was able to cultivate deeper relationships with the people I care about, and I found new ways to engage with my own thoughts and experiences on a day-to-day basis. Instead of my days all feeling like a blur, everything was intentional.
So if you find yourself without a phone, take a deep breath and embrace the opportunity to explore the world without the constant buzz of notifications and updates. Who knows? You might just find that you enjoy the freedom of being unconnected from technology and more connected to the outside world for a little while.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Contact Victoria La Ferla via email: Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org or by Instagram @vlf_insider