I Went a Day Without My Cellphone & (Barely) Lived to Tell the Tale

blackberrySmartphones. For all the amazing benefits they provide, they are also responsible for an international epidemic. We can't put them down no matter what is going on. In one particularly startling case, a man was shot on a commuter  train and no one looked up from their phones. I think it's crazy and clearly I'm not alone. I hear about more and more people going on "cell phone diets." And companies are even getting on the purge: Giorgio Armani pledge to donate clean water for a day to children in need if a people could stay off their smartphones for 10 minutes. So I decided to give it a try. I went without my cell phone for 24 hours and I'll be honest, it wasn't pretty.

When I told my mom about my plan, she simply replied with an astonished, "Why?" Despite the fact that she all too well remembers a  time when there were no cell phones, this little experiment seemed absurd to her.

Indeed, that high-priced, pocket-size piece of tech had become like an extra appendage. It manages everything in my world. My calendar, my son's schedule, work emails, personal emails, photographs, and music. In fact, I can't even imagine driving someplace without the Google Map app.

I was totally unprepared to quit cold turkey. But I did. Let me just say, I didn't get off to such a great start.  I completely forgot that my one and only alarm clock is on that phone, so I woke up late. As I scramble to get breakfast ready and my son dressed, I would normally scroll through emails. Now I had to take time to log onto my computer and check before jetting out the door.

Too late to risk subway delays, my son and I hop into a cab. The video monitor is playing ad for new drama about people who are resurrected, which has my son both freaked out and mesmerized. Off button broken and I can't distract him with Candy Crush on my iPhone. What follows is a weird conversation where I try to convince him that people cannot come back from the dead despite what the TV said.

At 830 am, I dropped him off in his classroom and inform teacher to call my office if they need to contact me for any reason. Five minutes later, I am walking toward the subway and instinctively, my hand reaches for my phone. Damn. How do I fill the walking time. However, my angst grows once I get onto the platform. What the hell am I supposed to do now? Perhaps stare at everyone else as they stare at their screens. Shoulda picked up a newspaper.

With nothing to scan or read, the ride is SOOOOOO Boring. God knows what messages I am missing. Not to mention all the ones I could be replying to at this very moment. When I emerge from the subway, I power walk to the office, anxious to get to those messages. As I look around, it's as though every single person has a phone in had except me.

It's sad to say that I feel a sense of great relief once I get to my desktop. No emergencies or major fires to put out while I was radio silent. However, the rest of the day was a bit of a nightmare. I felt tethered to my desk, worried that I would miss an important call or email. And so went the rest of the afternoon as I sat there wondering what text messages might be coming through.

Soon, I came to realize how deep this addiction goes. I had hoped that being disconnected would have provided me with a sense of relief. It didn't. I thought it would feel like a great burden had been lifted, but it was quite the opposite. I felt anxiety-ridden because I was the only one NOT plugged in.

Admittedly, doing this in the middle of busy work and school week is just asking for disaster. Perhaps this would have been easier to do over a weekend, when it acceptable to not be available 24/7 or during a vacation.  But going forward, I have resolved to use my phone just a little bit less. There is so much I don't pay attention to when my eyes are trained at that tiny screen. To make use of that old adage, I should stop and smell the roses ... or at the very least, notice any that may be around.

Could you give up your cell phone for 24 hours? A week? A month?


Image via Ian Lamont/Flickr


cell phone, facebook, iphone


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar me

My phone broke. I had an old one in the drawer so I put my sim card in it and turned it on for what I thought was going to be a day or two while I looked for a new phone. Things happened and it took couple of weeks before I started lookin (I have month to month plan so theres no replacements) and by then I was used to not having my nose on the screen all tye time. I spent more time with my kids, the time I spent with them, I was more present, I payed attention to them. So I stopped even looking for a phone. I have a tablet I can use at home, and you can call or text me when im out. The first few days were hard but ive grown to like it. Ill still get a new smart phone at somepoint because I have a tendecy of getting lost and needing directions, and sometimes you need to find information online when youre out but this time, ill be smart about it. It wont consume my life

youth... youthfulsoul

I could because I don't care a whole lot about being on it. Probably because I have an old iPhone and the internet's beyond slow so I don't really use it anyway. 

nonmember avatar NK

I quit using my smart phone 3 years ago.  Now I use an old iPod to check the news or email when I am at home.   I got rid of Facebook and other forms of social network.  It has been absolutely freeing.  I watch my circle of family and friends bury themselves into these tiny screens, getting stressed out over one Facebook drama or another, and wonder why.  What is the big pay off?!?  Where is the reward?  Kids are even hooked now and I cringe to think of society in another decade. I don't know that any of us will go to our death beds wishing for more time on our smart phones.  I think it will be quite the opposite.  I find it very sad that an entire generation has been missing out on so much life just for some technological distraction.  

Christene Jaramillo

Stopped using mine almost a year or so ago.  Recently got a new one.  But I don't spend my day hooked to it.  I take it out when i need it... and not much more.

First... FirstTimeMama21

Oh, the horror. You had to interact with your child and hold an actual conversation? I stopped reading after that. It is pathetic that this was a struggle for you. Try living with the Amish for a week and then get back to us.

nonmember avatar Chesh

You have classic signs of addiction. Same as any gambler or cigarette smoker. Rather sad you've lost connection with the real world and can't even remember what to do without a phone while working to a subway. Take things in bursts and try learning to wean yourself off of it. I had to do the same with Facebook and now I'm completely Facebook free and only use my phone for calling or texting when it's needed.

the4m... the4mutts

I do it all the time. Yes, I use my phone a LOT, but I home school my kids too. So when it's class time, the phone goes away. It goes away at dinner time. It goes away for the night about an hour before Im ready to start the bedtime routines, and doesn't come out again until morning.

We take weekend family trips on a semi regular basis, and the phone goes away then too. I bring it out only to use as a camera. I do not post the pics to fb, or txt them to anyone, or anything else. Just snap a few pics, and away it goes.

Try just putting it away for 2hrs for dinner to start (or some family time each night)

Do it in stages, then you wont miss it as much, or feel as guilty when you zone out on it.

Saphi... SaphiraJFire

I never carry a cell phone I do not have any type of answering machine or service. Yes I used to but I broke the habit and its way better.

I found it liberating to not be so connected. To me I find it so unnecessary. To me its a waist of time and money. I like life without the connection.

1-8 of 8 comments