“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
– Groucho Marx
[Note: Today’s post is a true story and I was inspired to write about it because of this article.]
Back in January I broke my phone. Rather than paying through the nose for a replacement, I switched over to my old Razr. I had to use an analog phone until November when my contract allowed me to get a new Droid. I went almost a year without a smartphone. Here are a few differences between then and now:
- I checked Twitter when I was at home or during my free time.
A few weekends ago I was eating in Chicago and went to check my Twitter feed. For whatever reason the restaurant wasn’t giving me access to the data network. My actual phone still worked, but I felt naked and alone. I had been cut off from making witty statements and checking to see if anyone new was following me.
Back when I was using my old analog phone, this problem never happened. If I was bored I would have looked around and observed my surroundings, or picked up a book, or jotted something on a piece of paper. Even though I’m pretty introverted, it actually wasn’t uncommon for me make friends on buses, trains, and flights simply because I didn’t have a phone to bury my face in.
- No one cared.
When I started using my analog phone I was really worried that people would make fun of me. This sounds like a dumb fear, but I thought I’d get ostracized for not seeing the latest Vine or Snapchat. In reality nothing happened. No one asked about my phone and my friends were really into Vines and things like that were too self absorbed to notice. I could probably have used a rotary phone and still maintain a decent social life.
- I listened to books on tape.
Every time I drove somewhere I listened to a book on tape. I knocked out a ton of great literature, some good self help stuff, and even a bit of philosophy. It was great and I learned a ton.
With my smartphone it’s hard for me to get through an audiobook. Instead of having on set of CD’s to listen to, I have a cornucopia of songs at my disposal. Even if I start on an audiobook, I’ll usually get distracted by my phone.
- I read more books.
Similar to audiobooks, my reading habits increased when I didn’t have a constant source of electronic entertainment with me. I could sit and read for hours on end. Now I’m lucky to get through an entire hour without checking something online. I’m struggling to finish Sir Gawain and the Green Knight because of the never ending stream of stimulus that my phone provides.
Because of all the negative influences that my phone has brought, I’ve decided to take a three day hiatus from Twitter and social media. Around this time last year I deleted my Facebook and, depending on how my experiment goes, I think I might take an indefinite break from Twitter too.