Life

Must-Do or Taboo? Leave My Cell Phone at Home for the Day

julie-no-cell-c

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned:

  • I have covertly checked my mobile email under the dinner table
  • I have cried to my cable company’s customer service when they couldn’t get my WiFi to work for three days straight
  • I have made my boyfriend run out at 1 a.m. to buy a phone charger when I realized I left mine in a hotel room

I am not proud of the above, but as an editor in New York City, my phone is my mobile office. From email to camera, social media to text messages, the thought of going sans phone for a day is sadly incredibly terrifying. I’ve only owned a cell phone for ten years — when did my dependency get so bad?

Below, a personal account of stepping out of my digital comfort zone and the insanity (yet, clarity) that ensued:

9:00 a.m. The sun wakes me up and I reach for my phone. Hidden in my sock drawer — today’s my phone-free day. Drat! What time is it anyway?

9:15 a.m. I’m used to immediately checking social media in the morning (I write social media copy for a major sports brand). Did the scheduled posts go out on time? I cross my fingers yes.

9:30 a.m. I eat breakfast, shower and get ready to leave. The A/C is blasting in my apartment so I grab a sweater on the way out the door. Outside, however, it’s 90 degrees and humid. Oh, how I miss my weather app. I shove the sweater deep in my bag and walk on.

9:45 a.m. I see the neighborhood bodega cat, Oliver, sitting on my stoop with a cone around his head. Perfect social media material! Alas, my ever-present camera is nowhere to be found. I get on the subway and open my library book. It’s kinda nice not to be bombarded with work emails before I get to work…

11:00 a.m. I’m producing several celebrity cover shoots right now. My Chicago photographer wants to have a conference call to discuss the editorial concept. I tell him I’m only available by email today (and secretly rejoice — I hate conference calls).

1:00 p.m. I meet my friend for lunch at a new cafe that just opened in NoLita. I forgot to write down the address and, of course, no phone to check my maps app. I stop a stranger to ask if they know (they do!) and I head in the right direction feeling like a lame tourist with no clue.

6:30 p.m. I bought some new eyeglasses online and they’re just not jiving with me. I head to the store in SoHo to make an exchange. The salesman asks to see my digital receipt: “No can do,” I tell him. Luckily, the fine folks at customer service had all that information stored in their computer systems. Exchange = success.

7:30 p.m. I meet my boyfriend for dinner at a friend’s new restaurant. I emailed him (the owner) earlier to say I’d be swinging by around 7:30 p.m. but as I check my wristwatch (no phone clock, I planned ahead), it’s nearly 8 p.m.! Gah! I can’t text him so I literally sprint to the corner of Broome and 6th Ave. My friend greets me with a smile and as I order a glass of wine and look over the menu, I review the pros and cons of indulging in my “no phone” taboo:

PROS

  • I get to wear a watch
  • Lighter purse load
  • No conference calls
  • Meet new people 
  • Listen more intently
  • Read more (and, really, just sit and think more)

CONS

  • No maps
  • Social media FOMO
  • Delay of work email replies
  • General feeling of helplessness

I’ve come to realize that I’m way too dependent on my phone and if the digital apocalypse happens tomorrow, I’ll be the feeble woman walking around aimlessly wailing about the whereabouts of her online cat videos. But seriously, give your phone a mini-break and breathe in the clarity that replaces the void. It’s not as scary as you think.

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