Wellbeing

9 Surprising Things That Happened When I Couldn’t Use My Smartphone

The events that led me to live a phoneless life were caused by both circumstance and choice. The circumstance? I threw my phone in a pond (long story involving a dog and excitement – mine, not the dog’s). The choice stemmed from the fact that I’d noticed bad communication habits forming on account of my habitual phone checking. The solution became clear: put off replacing my mobile for a while to see if it is in fact possible to live a phoneless existence in 2016.

Spoiler alert: it is, and I was surprised at how fantastic it was. So what exactly happened?

#1 My anxiety levels went waaaaaay down

Without constant access to things like Instagram and Facebook, the Captain FOMO in me took off her cape and began to notice the world around her, as opposed to other people’s curated representation of a ‘life’. This caused me to focus on myself and the things happening to me and around me, instead of comparing myself and my life to others. This was a huge load off my anxiety levels.

#2 I had so much more to say

When catching up with friends, there was genuine news to discuss, as opposed to a friend saying they got a new bike and me responding “oh yeah i saw it on Facebook, it’s so nice.” People described things to me, told me stories I hadn’t already read about on social media and gesticulated wildly. I am all for it.

#3 Timeliness became next to godliness

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When you have no means of contacting people once you’ve left the house or office, being on time becomes paramount and sticking to plans becomes the most important thing imaginable. I planned my days better, and was more respectful to others’ time.

#4 I saved a lot of money

This was by far the most surprising part of my tele-purge. Without access to Uber, I walked. Without friends bugging me to meet them at a bar, I listened to my inner voice telling me what I wanted to do and went home without buying a bunch of drinks I didn’t really need.

#5 So many new friends were made

Simply asking for the time, or for directions – which, if I’m honest, happens a lot sans smartphone because Google Maps is super helpful – made me speak to people I wouldn’t ordinarily speak to.

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Me on the far right.

Waiting for friends and having nothing to distract me made me more approachable and also more likely to start a conversation with a stranger.

#6 Presence is a present

I never realised how often other people rudely use their phones until I stopped doing it. By looking people in the eye and focussing all my attention on the person or task at hand, I found myself listening actively as well as feeling calmer, happier and like I became a better friend.

#7 Productive procrastination became a thing

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Without a phone to stare at for hours at a time, I started baking again, exercising more and cleaned the house more frequently than I had in years.

#8 I slept so much better

Without the bright lights of my phone serving as my anti-lullaby, I slept so much sounder every night and didn’t find myself waking up suddenly in the night when my phone flashed in the darkness.

#9 I grew even closer to my partner

I’m very lucky to have a great relationship with my partner, but I was genuinely amazed at how much closer we grew by spending mornings off our phones and talking to each other.

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Me and my awesome partner.

We also couldn’t message each other trivial little things – and while you might think that’s a downside, it meant we had so much more to talk about when we were together. The quality of our time together improved ten-fold.


Esther is a freelance writer, editor, publicist, content maker and dog patter. She has written for Interview Magazine, New York Press, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and local titles Broadsheet, Beat and Tone Deaf. Please tag her in photos of dogs @esthersaurus