1973 was one of those years in this world that we can all blame for changing the way that humans behaved forever. This was, after all, the year that the first mobile phone was invented. Under 10 years of its release, everyone — and literally everyone — in the world was clamoring for the cell phone. Why? Simple. We began to feel obligated to connect with others because that door of convenience opened for us with the introduction of this technology. From then on, we were basically bound by the screen of the cell phone.
But what would it have felt like living before 1973? Well, I might just have lived a slice of it for one week. Don’t get me wrong — I didn’t get the entire history experience of the 70's. But having broken my phone on a long week full of non-working holidays might have just as well been the same thing. So how did it go? Well here’s a breakdown of my phone-less week.
Probably the very first thing that I thought when I broke my phone was,
“Damn! Now I can’t even put this on my IG story.”
Crazy, right? but hear me out. IG stories have become some sort of my social lifeline in the sense that I can’t live a day without posting at least one picture in it. It might sound pretty ridiculous at first, but this just makes me realize exactly how big of a role Instagram actually plays on how I behave. Knowing that I will document the things that I do motivates me into actually completing it. Simply put, I try to make my life as exciting as possible just so I can put it up on My Story. That’s why when I finally had to do my daily yoga routine, it took me a good hour to make sense of why I even had to do it anymore without my phone.
Day 1 was, to describe it bluntly, hell.
Now day 2, I would say, was a bit better than the first. Aside from the fact that I overslept for more than an hour because my alarm (which was automatically set on my phone) didn’t set off, the world seemed kinder to me that day or I to it than the first. That said, there were more downs than ups. I had utility and productivity applications that I couldn’t access at all, forcing me to take on the manual work. While I was still able to get the work done, I would say each work took me at least 15-30 minutes more to do. Mind you, even the simplest of work would get me frustrated without the aid of the phone.
There’s just so much convenience that the cell phone offers.
By now, you would’ve expected that I’ve gotten used to having no phone (even just the slightest bit). But nope! There was always that nagging part of my brain that gave me anxiety. What if I was slacking off too much by not having a good sense of time? What if I was supposed to do something that I wrote down in my reminders? What if I was receiving a really important text? Heck, even the idea of winning the lottery and not knowing about it because I couldn’t receive texts crossed my mind.
In a way, I gave so much value to my phone that not having it by my side meant missing a big part of myself. Day 3 was when I actually had to sit down and realize how far I’ve dug into the problem.
It was this day that a switch somehow flipped.
For the next few days after that, I made sure to make the most out of my situation. For starters, I was really able to bond with my friends without being distracted by the rings of notifications from social media. I was also spending more time in building my portfolio and organizing things that I barely felt I could finish for before. I was having more than enough time for myself by caring less about the online sphere I was so caught up with.
In fact, I even had a better motivation in doing things beyond that of Instagram stories. Apparently, the feeling of actually doing things because you genuinely want to improve yourself is a more sustainable mindset of gratification.
Crazy simple, but nevertheless timelessly true.
I’ll cut you guys the slack of reading the same old “moral of the story” and get on right with the juice. The whole point of this article wasn’t to say that technology binds us in a spiral of dystopia made up of people who can barely bat an eye on the tangible things in life. True enough we can get too caught up with our phones at times, but that’s all on us.
We end up unproductive with our phones not because they distract us, but because we just really prioritize the wrong things. We grow disconnected with people we love not because technology fosters a space of isolation, but because we ourselves fail to see what’s beyond the text. We are “bound”, because we choose to. We choose to create that distinction for what life was before the invention of the cellphone. We choose to continue to make technology a separate entity as what we happen to do in reality.
Of course I knew for sure that working without a phone wasn’t permanent. One way or another, I’d still end up buying a new one just because life would be way easier with it. I acknowledge the fact that there’s a world beyond it, but I still understand the power of technology and how crucial it is in this time and age. It’s really just about how and when we use it.
Technology may have given us an option but at the end of the day, we had the choice to make it count…
…whether it was before or after 1973.
While it costed me a broken phone and more than a week of remorse, in the end it gave me a realization: when you feel like your becoming too consumed by whatever is hip and online, maybe even to an extent that life’s becoming binary and unfulfilling, you can always choose to put that phone down.