Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Go Ahead, Leave Your Phone At Home

I have an Apple Watch with cellular support that I have been using for about nine months for emergency purposes or when someone really needs to reach me when I am out without my iPhone.  I have been doing more and more of that lately and I find it very liberating.  It’s not easy coming from a tech enthusiasts like me but if I can do it, so can you.  Now, I’m not suggesting forgoing tech completely.  I’m just suggesting that perhaps we do not need to have it around us as much as we think we need it.

You know letting go is like.  Here is something that we might all understand.  Facebook.  It’s toxic and maybe of us have gotten rid of it.  In the beginning, it might have been difficult.  You vow never to use it but then a week later, you find yourself logging back in but you tell yourself just this once because you’re bored.  Then another week past and you’re back on it.  But hey, it has been a week.  And perhaps, you fell off the wagon a bit and got sucked by Facebook’s addictive algorithms.  You’re wondering if anyone of your hundreds of friends missed you or if your past update had received comments or emoji reactions.  Or if that one friend seems like they’re on a perpetual vacation.

Then you find yourself sick of it again and you start all over.  Eventually, you succeeded.  Two weeks goes by before you log back in. And then a month and finally you’re like me - no more Facebook and it’s liberating.  

Well, I’ve left my iPhone on and off in the past six months, sometimes on purpose and other times I just forget.  And I’m loving that I’m forgetting to bring it.  In the beginning, there was anxiety.  Some are warranted and some are not.  

  • Did anyone call me?  Work or family emergencies?  That still happens but it is what it is with life.  Things either happen or not and most are out of our control.  While I’m out, I’m going to enjoy myself or dedicate myself to whatever chore I’m out and about for.  
  • How are my online games doing?  Oh yeah, Clash of Clans, anyone?  I still play it because a few close friends and I are in the clan and it’s our social network - we chat about college sports, birds (a couple of us have bird/hummingbird feeders), fitness, and of course, WAAARRR!!!  I’ll be sure to bring my phone with me if there is an ongoing war but that’s about it.
  • Photos - what if I miss an interesting opportunity to capture a memory with my love ones?  Honestly, I have yet to truly go back and look at the tens of thousands of photos I’ve taken since the original iPhone.  Most recently, I went to Disneyland and took a few photos.  While I was looking at them, I came across other Disney photos I took while I was there two years ago and found that I took almost identical photos or at the same locations.  Creature of habits I guess.  
  • Important thoughts while I am without my phone.  There are times when I think of something and by the time I get home, I forget what it was.  For a while, I thought with my mobile device with me, I can type them into my note taking app.  But then I realized I should really make an effort to remember things.  I’m sure we all have had times when we have thought of something brilliant (not quite eureka moments) or just remember something you have to do.  Again, it is what it is and we just have to try to remember them somehow.
This past weekend, I went to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.  I got there often and 9 out of 10 times, I bring my iPhone with me to take photos.  I did not this time.  I had my Apple Watch with me to record my health stats (steps, calories) and to close the circles (it’s Apple’s way of allowing watcher wearers achieve daily goals).  I was totally fine.  The gardens mostly look the same and I’ve taken thousands of photos there.  The trees too.  Nothing new since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago.  And I found it to be very liberating.  As a said above, my watch has cellular service but for some reason, it was not working while I was there the whole time.  When I finally managed to get it to work, only one message came through from a local store offering a discount on their pizza.

And no anxiety whatsoever while I was enjoying the evening stroll there.  Six months ago, I think I would be anxious about getting home to see what I miss or if I had an important call during that time.  Afterwards, instead of going straight home, we went to get gas for the car.  Then we came back and parked it and went out to get ice cream.  Six months ago, I might have made an excuse about how I need to use the bathroom to go inside and check on the phone.  Not this past weekend.

Try it.  It’s okay.  We are not so special that if we miss a couple of calls or texts or app notifications that the world will fall apart.  The world does not revolve around us and your world certainly should not resolve around your phone.  Just remember to bring a small notebook and pen for when you have important thoughts you like to write down.  Not recommended for showering though.

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