My accidental, awful technology detox

Anabel Prince, Copy editor

As a Millennial, I admit unashamedly that I spend at least 6-7 hours a day on my iPhone. Checking Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. and texting friends holds a vital place in my daily routine. Smartphones stand as a part of life for people my age, and as we have never had to live without them, imagining a life where they cease to exist proves almost impossible.

I never thought I would have to live this life. And then, tragically, on Monday, August 17, 2015, I dropped my beloved iPhone 5s into a puddle. This is my story.

Day 1:

Because I was leaving somewhere when I dropped my phone, I quickly brushed it off as insignificant. “I’ll just put it in rice when I get home,” I thought. My drive home consisted of pure denial, with me desperately attempting to use my aux cord and call friends. The speakers failed to work. Time was running out.

Thirty minutes and one rice bag later, I sat on the computer tweeting my troubles away. “Tweeting from my laptop for once because I dropped my phone in a puddle!!!!!!! :))))),” the tweet read. I received 9 pity favorites.

Day 2:

The next morning, I woke up using my mom’s old iPhone 3G as an alarm. My morning proved much less exciting than usual, as I typically watch Parks & Recreation on my phone while preparing myself for the day. Making the drive from my house in Marietta to NC killed me. I reached for my phone to text a friend, asking if he needed a ride—only to discover my pocket was empty, much like my heart.

Anabel Prince sits, phoneless, surrounded by friends who are engrossed in the games and social media. “I feel so lonely. No one is on my side in this world,” says Prince.

Alex O’Brien
Anabel Prince sits, phoneless, surrounded by friends who are engrossed in the games and social media. “I feel so lonely. No one is on my side in this world,” says Prince.

Walking into school, I felt the void within me deepen. Normally right now I would Snapchat my friends, adding a time filter to let them know how early I arrived at school and how unexcited I felt about it. How would they know now?

Dropping my phone also forced me to realize how often I rely on it during school. What would I do now if I finished an assignment early? If I needed to look a topic up? In the first and last five minutes of class, there stood not a single person not on their phone except for me. I pretended to organize my pencil box to avoid looking socially akward.

After school, instead of attempting to make plans in person with a friend, I drove home alone. “I have no one,” I thought. “Everyone is connected except me.”

Day 3:

On the third day of my phoneless existence, I felt completely out of the loop. It amazed me how much of people’s lives we hear about through social media rather than in person.  The following interaction happened at least three times:

Friend: Did you hear I went to ______ last night?

Me: No… did you tell me about it earlier?

Friend: I put it on Instagram, duh. Did you even read my caption?

Prince find it much harder to navigate the roadways without her GPS to guide her through the turns.

Alex O’Brien
Prince find it much harder to navigate the roadways without her GPS to guide her through the turns.

That night I trekked out to North Point Mall to visit The Apple Store and see if they could fix my phone. Armed with a print-out sheet of directions, I hit Highway 92, somehow confident in my abilities to navigate the foreign land of Alpharetta. Singing along to “Poker Face” on the radio (remember, no phone means no iTunes) caused me to miss my turn, and I ended up asking for directions at a QuikTrip. Ten minutes and three different families’ advice later, I stood just as confused as before. When I did eventually arrive at North Point, I learned that my phone held no hope of being fixed and AT&T would send me a new one, making my journey completely unnecessary. I took the long route home, thankfully not getting lost this time.

Day Four:

By this point I became accustomed to not having a phone. Walking quietly in the hallways, driving while listening to either deafening silence or my old High School Musical CD’s, and messaging my friends solely through Twitter DM’s became a part of my regular routine. I stood alone in a technology filled world.

I took to using my mom’s phone to keep my Snapstreaks alive (I was NOT about to lose eighty days of hard work), and stealing friends’ phones during class to check their Twitter feeds like a drug addict suffering through withdrawals. “Just give me this! Please! What are people talking about today?! What’s trending?!” I yelled as they snatched the phone from my tight clutch. “Just give me this.”

Day Five:

The day finally arrived. Friday afternoon, I raced home to open my package from AT&T. Inside stood a working phone. I shed a tear of joy. I forgot that phones could actually work! The world immediately seemed brighter. I looked outside, and what appeared gray and lifeless before, now shined with positivity. I held hope for my existence in this world. I would never be alone again.

The Aftermath:

While never wishing this traumatic experience on anyone, it did come with lessons learned. I never realized how much time I spent mindlessly playing on my phone until I stood without one. When out with friends, instead of checking Twitter, I tried to stay in the moment and enjoy the quality time I spent with them. That said, I encourage everyone to try and survive without their phone for just a few hours per day. While undoubtedly filled with struggle, the experience might teach you some valuable lessons about living in the moment and valuing friendships and experiences.  
Or, you can just scroll through Snapchat stories again because it’s probably just as interesting.