My team and I have been toying around with the idea of busting the “millennials are overly dependent on their phone” myth. Personally, I think our entire society is too attached to their phones, but let’s just blame the millennials, since, ya know, we are the ones who created smartphones in the first place … 😉
To test out this stigma, my colleagues suggested I go phoneless for a weekend and see how it felt, and if I would survive… I thought it was a great idea, considering studies have found that 80% of millennials reach for their phones as soon as they wake up and check them OVER 150 TIMES A DAY.
Great concept to try, but actually executing it? A whole other story. I kept telling myself, “Okay, this is the weekend I will try it.” Yet, I made up every excuse in the book:
“I need Waze for directions/I will be constantly lost!”
“How will I get hold of anyone if I get lost or need help?”
“What if there is an emergency and someone needs me?”
“How will I check into my barre and yoga class?”
And yet despite all of these surface-level excuses, I knew deep down my hesitation for going phoneless came from one, simple thought: why bother? Even if I did go phoneless, I didn’t think I would ACTUALLY get into a situation that would be dramatic enough to get any real substance out of the test. I mean, aside from being annoyed and temporarily disconnected, would I seriously face any challenging, dramatic situations without my phone? I seriously doubted it, and for that reason the test seemed somewhat superfluous.
But, I think the universe really wanted me to try it out, and conspired to make it happen last weekend, when I FORGOT my phone in Connecticut during a 4-day trip to Arizona…
WILD, WILD (PHONELESS), WEST
I left CT Thursday morning and would be returning home Sunday night. I was recovering from an awful cold and was feeling slow and groggy from the lingering Nyquil in my system. 15 minutes into our drive to the airport, I realized I forgot my phone. My sister, mom, cousin and I had a nice getaway planned, and now I was going to be phoneless. UNBELIEVABLE.
After announcing my mishap (something along the lines of, “F%&$, I forgot my phone!”), my mother instantly responded, “Well, we aren’t turning around, so you’ll have to survive without it… and watch your mouth!” My heart sunk and I became extremely sad. For the rest of the ride I just stared out the window, and tried to not throw a temper tantrum or cry like a 5-year old. My family members offered to lend me their phones over the next few days, for texting and calling my fiancé, but it still sucked.
You see, our phones have become extensions of ourselves. They hold pictures of our adventures and experiences. They enable and hold our conversations, relationships with friends and families, act as an outlet to reach out to those that we love. They hold our work lives, our individualities, the versions of ourselves we want the world to “see” on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. They hold our desires, dreams, and ideas on Pinterest boards or notes. They hold our happiness and entertainment in music, books, games and even our ability to pay for life’s many expenses … All of this, in one little 5-inch computer that fits perfectly in our pockets.
HOW IT FELT TO “UNPLUG” FOR A FEW DAYS
I found myself reaching for (or maybe yearning for) my phone throughout the trip. There were times when I wanted to show my family a picture of the bridesmaid dresses I wanted to get and the floral arrangements I wanted to use for my wedding, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have my Pinterest board. Then, there was a time I remembered that I completely didn’t answer an important email, but had no way of fixing the problem until I got back, hoping the opportunity was still there waiting. On the way home while I was waiting at the airport, I found myself wanting to plan for the week ahead, but I didn’t have my phone to check the weather, look at my note pad or calendar, or to look at the yoga classes I wanted to sign up for.
All of these things weren’t life altering or earth shattering, just annoying. Proof of how much of our daily tendencies are so tied to our little devices.
To no surprise, I am still breathing and faced no major catastrophes. I got to where I needed to go, when I needed to be there. I was able to keep in touch with the people I needed to. And I didn’t suffer any panic attacks from not having my phone. (The fact that my family members all had their phones, and I was never actually alone, was also a HUGE help.)
After a little while, it was actually nice to not be able to answer my emails or calls! … I really didn’t mind being unable to text anyone, besides my fiancé. Granted, at the same time I did feel weird when everyone was looking at their phones and I was the only one looking around for someone to could talk to (that’s a whole other blog!).
SO ARE WE MILLENNIALS DEPENDENT ON OUR PHONES? YES, AND NO.
A definite YES, because of the emotional attachment I felt to my phone: The feeling that a part of me was missing and the disconnect I felt when everyone else was on their phones.
YES, because of all the things I couldn’t help with (examples: paying via Venmo, getting directions, calling, googling, etc.)
NO, since once I got over the shock of not being “connected”, I was really okay and made it work. At times I even really enjoyed not having the responsibility and expectations a phone can carry. Overall, I was honestly okay and could have gone longer without it.
At the end, I still think my original “why bother?” reaction to going phoneless is still very valid. Most of us will never truly understand what it’s like to live without a phone, nor need to … Unless you to try to make it “phoneless” in a foreign country alone, or with others who are also without their devices– you really won’t fully understand how much our lives are dependent on our pocket-sized “friends”.
I propose to personally test out this theory and go on an extended trip abroad without my phone … Now who will GoFundMe?! 😉