While dropping BB off at daycare a few days ago I discovered that I had left my cell phone at home (gasp!). Going home was not an option as we were already late for work. On the drive downtown my mind wandered; I couldn’t remember the last time my small, electronic leash was not tethered to my gnarled fingers and arthritic thumbs.
My observations from what undoubtedly became a strange, new world were as follows:
Uncertainty. While smoking outside my building I saw a young lady, eyes glazed and staring into the abyss of her own phone. I watched her for a few moments then turned my attention to some workers unloading boxes from a truck about twenty feet away. A few snowflakes danced lazily in front of me, blown by a soft but cold breeze, then fell to the ground, being absorbed into the slush lining the sidewalk. Where am I supposed to look? I wondered. I have become so conditioned to blankly staring down at this thing, and suddenly it wasn’t there. The world around me seemed alive with people scurrying to work and lights blinking from the surrounding buildings. Although I was confident this scene replayed itself every morning like Groundhog Day I can’t remember the last time I paid it any attention.
Confusion. Upon starting my computer to prepare for my shift, my right hand automatically reached down to grab the phone charger that is plugged into the tower. It pulled it up and my left hand reached over to plug my phone into it, and I paused. I stared, first at the cord loosely dangling from my hand, then at my empty left hand where the phantom device was. The realization that I have become so conditioned to this practice actually freaked me out.
Frustration/Disappointment. I had to walk to a different building for training in the morning, and again to the same building on my lunch break to go to the gym with a couple of girls from my department. It would have looked great on my phone’s pedometer. Now how am I going to know how many steps I’ve taken today and how many calories I burned?! Plus the one time I actually went to the gym and I wore a shirt with my Union’s logo on it, now I can’t even take a selfie. Seriously, the one day!
But gradually, a strange calmness took over me and I started to feel better…
Feelings of freedom and self righteousness eventually washed over me by the end of the day. I felt myself puff out my chest and hold my head up a little higher when I’d walk past a coworker’s office and see them in the familiar stance: head down, thumbs either frantically clicking or index fingers slowly scrolling, a glow washing over their faces.
Without the constant distractions offered by social media I felt like I was forced to be more productive and amicable. I was looking friends and colleagues in the eye more when talking to them and was able to focus more on what they were actually saying instead of zoning out whenever I felt a vibration. I could hear them instead of just listening.
Overall it wasn’t nearly as dreadful as I had expected. Truly surprising myself, I actually ended up not minding it one bit.
I didn’t miss anything life altering and if – God forbid – there would have been an actual emergency, RB and/or Daycare could’ve easily have gotten ahold of me on my work phone or email. Although I’ve since reverted back to all of the bad habits I’ve criticized here, I feel like at least I’ve become more conscious of them and have made a genuine effort to put my friends and family first when I’m with them and keep the fucking phone in my pocket. Especially when I’m with BB (unless he does something absolutely adorable and picture worthy) since I don’t want him growing up to think that staring at a phone all the time is normal.
Who knows? Someday soon I may just leave my phone at home on purpose and see what happens.