Experiment: My Weekend Without My iPhone

This past weekend resulted in an accidental social media and digital experiment. I was without a phone from Friday, November 3rd at 4:00pm until Monday, November 6th at 12:30pm.

Last Thursday, November 2nd, I b-lined it home for some TLC. I was reminded of how badly I needed rest when I returned from my hiatus and my roommate saw me and instantly blurted out, “wait, oh my gosh you look really refreshed, what did you do?” I told her my secret regimen was family time and sleep.

Anyway, back to Friday, November 3rd, something came over me and I was provoked to completely gut my closet and dispense old clothes that I have either outgrown, or I will never wear again. In the midst of tossing things in garbage bags and storage bins, my mom asked if I would like to go to lunch with her. I said sure, and after 10 minutes of searching my closet and room, I could not find my phone.

At this point, no biggie. I’m going to spend quality time with my mom, there’s no dire need for my iPhone, plus she has hers to communicate with the other moving parts of the family. Over the next three days, I raided garbage bags and storage containers three times as well as had my brother and both my parents rummage through with a fresh pair of eyes. Nothing.

Oh, and to top it off; Find My iPhone was off on my device and the phone died 30 minutes after looking for it. On Monday, November 6th at 12:30pm, I cut my losses and went into the Apple store to buy a new phone. I told the rep instantly I have zero interest in the iPhone 8 or X and would just like the same exact replacement phone of my iPhone 7 at the cheapest option possible.

Now that you’ve read my short story, I want to share with you what I missed and what I did not miss on an iPhone. Prior to this experiment, if you told me to map our three apps I would miss and three apps I would forget about, I would have had the list below flipped.

What I missed:

  1. iMessage
  2. Twitter alerts
  3. Navigation (turns out it is really difficult to find your friend at a train station off of exit 17 on I-95 with no Waze).

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 7.18.16 PM       3568999700000578-3647262-Waze_has_coined_the_term_difficult_intersections_but_now_drivers-a-22_1466188761305      220px-Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svg

 

 

 

What I didn’t miss until Sunday:

  1. My Instagram feed
  2. Snapchat
  3. Facebook

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Without question, every time I left the house without my phone, I felt like a part of me was missing. It was the feeling of leaving and knowing your missing something, but you cannot remember what it is, and as soon as you leave, what you left behind instinctually comes to mind, but it is too much of a hassle to turn around. In my instance, I knew it was my phone missing and still felt that emptiness walking out the front door without my iPhone.

I ventured throughout the weekend iPhone-less and was amazed at what I missed. As you can see above, the primary applications I missed were platforms that kept me up to date and in touch on a need to know basis. The absence of Twitter alerts I have set to my phone disabled me from knowing current events that I regularly pay attention to. I learned about the tragedy in Texas from my father reading the news on his iPhone.

When it came to iMessage, I found this a massive inconvenience; especially when I’m trying to make a plan with my 14-year-old brother. Trying to track him down and set a time to grab a bite to eat or watch a movie became increasingly difficult.

When returning to school, the plan was to pick up my friend who was also home. Her exit was 17 off of I-95, the same highway as mine. Since my new iPhone was not activated, I called her from my mom’s cell and said meet off of exit 17 at the train station in 20 minutes and I will pick her up there. With that, I drove north for 20 minutes and got off of exit 17 to find at least six different parking lots and zero way of contacting her. I made two wrong turns trying to pull into the parking lot that led to the entrance of the train station. Waze or Google Maps would have been very useful as this point in time.

What I missed about iMessage was not necessarily talking to friends to catch up, but it was more of a need to know basis. Planning and coordinating schedules and activities were exceedingly difficult.

Addressing the platforms I did not miss, I was shocked it took me until Sunday to realize I had not been on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. Especially because having my new iPhone since yesterday, I looked at my battery usage and Instagram comes it at #1 on usage at 33%, followed by iMessage at 28% and Snapchat at 20%. (If you would like to analyze your own usage, go to Settings à Batteryà Battery Usage will display your percent use of each application.)

Two out of my top three apps I did not think about when I was iPhone-less throughout the weekend. Playing devils advocate, some could say that is because I was not at school and I only wanted to be spending time with my family, and while this is true, it’s also an argument that this would have created the ultimate FOMO (fear of missing out); not at school and no way to keep up on social media or iMessage.

In conclusion, I challenge you to delete all of your applications (that can be deleted, i.e. Waze, Google Maps, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.) and see how long it is before you are craving that download to check in. I was pleasantly surprised how little of me missed social media and how the larger part of me missed my accessibility to current events and convenience for planning in the present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 comments

  1. What a good test – it’s interesting to hear your takeaways. I had a flip phone in college (I’m not the only one, right @mgogg10, @ojeagle121, @emmaelennon??) and would occasionally leave it at home by mistake, but was never particularly bothered by it. Our whole society has evolved now though, and picking someone up or other rendezvous are much harder than they would’ve been ten years ago. There’s also an expectation of immediate response to both SMS/iMessages and emails that didn’t exist before.

    One of the things I found in the working world is that there’s an implicit expectation that I was regularly checking my work email in off hours – nights and weekends. If I’d lost my phone for a weekend, it would mean remaining close to home and my computer to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Times have changed!

  2. Yeah @adrienneis6621, definitely had a Nokia, even…used to play snake (confession: I didn’t get a smartphone until 2013). I feel a similar pressure/guilt to check my phone off work hours, and I wonder if the US will ever implement something akin to France’s newer “right to disconnect” law (in effect as of this past January) that mandates companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when staff should not send or answer emails. With that, however, a big cultural shift would have to happen, for sure!

  3. Great Post! Funny, I actually lost my phone last weekend, but I ended up finding it on Sunday! When I lost my phone I had a similar experience – I missed the convenience of having a phone and a method to communicate with people, but I did not miss constantly checking all of social media accounts. It was extremely freeing not being on social media and constantly checking my phone. I think that our generation is too obsessed with social media and that it is not healthy. I try to limit my use of social media, but I always find myself on the various apps out of habit and boredom. I try to delete the apps off of my phone all the time, but, sadly, I always find myself re-downloading them after a couple of hours. I think the fact that I know I can’t go on them, makes me want to go on them even more. I am going to try to start using social media a lot less and instead try living in the moment and being present.

  4. Nice post! I definitely would’ve caved and checked Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on my computer. But I do agree that there is a shift in people our age and how we use/need our phones. Even though we still use social media constantly, I think we would generally place more importance on other functions or apps on our phones. I don’t know if we’re just getting older and place less importance on social media, but I also only find my phone to be vital for communication, directions, and news. I think I could easily live without my phone having social media apps. Ask my 12 year old cousin the same question though, and I don’t think she would have the same answer.

  5. Awesome post! I’m pretty sure that I would not last more than 15 min without wanting to look at my phone. I am also so terrible at directions, so if I didn’t have my Maps app, I would most definitely get lost. I remember the days of having to actually print out directions from MapQuest or Google and getting so nervous if I missed a turn. I try my best to make sure that when I’m spending quality time with loved ones, that I put my phone aside to be in the moment.

  6. There have been many times in my life that I have been in an area for a prolonged period of time (weeks or months) without wifi. In some instances I may have a flip phone (even in the spring of 2015) that was provided by work, but otherwise communication was limited. I actually really enjoyed those times. I would just live in the moment with the people around me. If I planned to meet with a friend at a certain time and they were late, I would explore the general area I was in.

    We talk about the network effect in class. When no one else has wifi capable device, it is very easy for everyone to work together. But if just one person does not have a device that can connect to wifi, then that person gets left in dust in terms of social interaction of need to know info for work. If it weren’t for the network effect (school and work) I would have no issue getting rid of my phone.

  7. Totally can relate to the phenomenon of it feeling like you’re forgetting a limb when you leave your phone behind! I think it’s really interesting how little you missed social media apps, but I would guess that that’s actually pretty common. On the occasions where I couldn’t go on social media for whatever reason, I remember not exactly feeling pangs of annoyance that I couldn’t go on these apps. Just like you, I would more so experience frustration when there was a task at hand that needed to be completed and I couldn’t use my phone (like navigation while driving or coordinating with other people). This leads me to believe that social media is just a time killer and distraction that we use to escape from everyday life for a minute, with that minute usually lasting much longer. But when it’s taken away, we don’t necessarily miss it- we just adapt to doing other things to entertain our minds. Of course, my experiences without social media have been short so perhaps I need to do some more research and experimentation first!

  8. Great post! It’s really cool how this class made you think about what you were really missing when you were disconnected. We forget how tied in every aspect of our daily life can be to our phones, from picking up a friend to keeping up with family – nevermind social media. I think this is a test that everyone should put themselves through (intentionally or unintentionally) on occasion. I don’t even like leaving the house without my phone even when I know I wont be using it – such as going to class. It is crazy to think we will be even more tied in to our technology in the future.

  9. Great post! It’s so interesting to see how dependent we are on technology. I hate feeling so tethered to my iPhone, but I can’t give up the convenience of plugging in a destination and having immediate directions. I think a theme that we constantly bring up in this class is the distinction between beneficial and detrimental side effects of innovation. There is something to say about how much time is wasted on Instagram, snapchat, and Facebook. I wonder if there’s gonna be a backlash of some sort long with the health kick/detox world of trying to separate oneself from those time wasting platforms.

  10. Really interesting story here. I tried to do things like this while I was abroad so I could stay in my own zone and enjoy the things around me. Now, though, with my iPhone and Apple Watch keeping me updated every waking hour of my day, it’s impossible to disconnect for a short period of time. I feel like unless I was to go home like you did, I wouldn’t be able to do something like this at school. Really interesting that you felt differently about certain “less necessary” apps and social media platforms, I agree that I’d also feel differently about those. Thanks for sharing this story!

  11. Great post. Sometimes it’s not until we’re missing something that we realize that we don’t really miss it at all…

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