I had just pulled into a parking space in the underground parking garage of a prospect’s office building. As I reached into the back seat to get my suit coat, my business card holder slid out of my coat’s inside pocket. It crashed to the concrete floor. No big deal. It would be just fine.
As I bent over to pick up my business card holder, the unthinkable happened (okay, maybe it wasn’t that big of an issue). My cell phone slipped out of my shirt pocket and fell to the concrete. It’s happened before so the phone should be fine. The glass wasn’t cracked. All is well.
So I thought…
I turned the phone on to make sure it still worked. When it booted up, the bottom half of the screen was solid black. Something happened under the glass. I was devastated, not so much because my phone was broken but because I had a four-hour car ride later that day.
Can you imagine being without your cell phone for an extended period of time? You can’t call or text. You can’t get your Twitter or Facebook updates. You can’t even check the score of the baseball game. What do you do? You’d be completely cut off from the world.
These are the lessons I learned when I had to go without my cell phone for a period of about 30 hours (I had a new one shipped to my hotel the following day).
1. Blessing and a curse – Technology is such a blessing. We have powerful computers on us at all times. We can do things quicker than in the past. Technology can also be a curse. We become reliant on the technology and do not think for ourselves.
When I didn’t have my phone, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t communicate with my family or co-workers. I couldn’t check my work email throughout the day to reply quickly to client questions. I couldn’t search for local restaurants with Yelp or Google Maps.
2. Immediate information – Because we have these computers in our hands at all times, we require immediate responses. We’ve become conditioned (it’s our own fault) to answer all phone calls, reply to emails immediately or reply to texts as soon as possible. Why? Because we can.
Voicemail is set up for a reason. We don’t have to answer every phone call if we’re doing something else. Email is not to be used as an immediate response software. Texts shouldn’t be required to be answered immediately. These are not emergencies. We treat them as such though.
Why do we treat everything as an emergency? Someone isn’t dying. Nothing is physically on fire. In most cases, we can respond in due time and no one will be hurt by it.
3. Driving safely – During my four-hour drive to my client’s town, I realized that I look at my phone too often while I drive. I felt like I had nothing to do except listen to my podcast or think. Apparently, I fidget with my phone often.
I noticed several times that I began to reach down to pick up my phone and then remembered it was broken. I’m going to make a more cognizant effort to not touch my phone while I drive.
4. I miss my family – The absolute worst part of not having my phone was the inability to communicate with my wife. My wife and I rarely talk on the phone during the day anymore but we do exchange texts. It’s quick and does not disturb my work activities. Without being able to text her during the day or even in the hotel in the evening, I was amazed at how much I missed her.
Thankfully, I had my iPad so I could Skype with my wife and girls at night. If I had not had my iPad, my wife would have had to call the hotel phone number. How inconvenient that would have been (please note my sarcasm).
I had a similar experience of being without my cell phone while we were on our first family vacation. I had a bad battery and had one being shipped to our vacation spot in Florida. It took four days to arrive so I could only use my phone if it was plugged in. This four-day absence of my phone did not bother me near as much as this 28-hour absence. Why? It is simply because I was with my family. I didn’t need my phone to communicate with them.
Have you tried going phone free for at least a 24-hour period. I recommend doing it. You will definitely learn to appreciate the convenience of having a cell phone and the information they contain. This is especially good for the younger generation, i.e., children or even twenty-somethings.
You need to learn to think for yourself. Try driving without a GPS device and see how much closer you have to pay attention. You actually have to think. Phones and other electronic devices are useful and convenient but we need to be able to live without them.