While I was traveling Europe I did not buy a new sim card for my phone. The reason for this was two-fold — one, I couldn’t justify the cost. Who would I call? The hostel? My new hostel friends who didn’t have phones? Second of all, before leaving, I was thinking about getting rid of my iPhone altogether and wanted to see if I could live without a cell phone.
Consensus? It was SO freeing to not have a cell phone at all times. I read books, I got lost, I noticed things around me and generally, as cliché as it sounds, I stopped to smell the roses. Life was great and the only times I missed having a constant internet connection was when I was in countries which didn’t offer free wifi in restaurants (I’m looking at you Italy!)
Ultimately though, I decided to keep my phone. Getting lost in Canada is not nearly as pleasant as getting lost in Istanbul and having maps and the ability to call people willy-nilly has saved me numerous times on Canadian soil.
The problem was that I couldn’t get used to the constant BUZZZZZ, BUZZZZZ, BUZZZZZ of my cell phone at all hours of the day.
A few years ago I read a quote from the 1950s (which I cannot find for the life of me!) saying that the fact that someone will decide to speak to us, sound a loud bell into the peace of our homes and then demand that we speak to them, is the beginning of societal downfall.
While the speaker of that quote was only talking about the telephone (and was, perhaps, being a tad dramatic), this problem is multiplied incredibly by smartphones. Anytime someone decided to play a Words With Friends game, tweet me, invite me to play Texas Holdem Poker or text me, my attention would be immediately requested by my phone.
And so, about a month ago, I got fed up and turned off all notifications on my phone (except calls and texts). This allows me to have all the advantages of a smartphone with (almost) none of the drawbacks. In fact, now that my iPod is fixed, I can put my phone in my pocket and not even need to touch it for my entire commute. And, once I open my phone, a little red notification icon is sitting there, on my apps, to let me know that I have a message.
The ONLY disadvantage to this move has been that people still expect an instant reply when they tweet/email/message me. I can’t count the number of times that someone has said something really interesting to me, and that I’ve wanted to write back, only so see that someone else has tweeted my exact thought.
Honestly though? Big deal. So I send out less tweets; so my friends have to wait 20 minutes for me to FB message them back. Who cares? The only absolutely MUST RESPOND IMMEDIATELY pieces of information that I receive are usually by text/iMessage because, yeah, people who don’t have my phone number are almost 0% likely to have anything to tell me that can’t wait a few minutes or an hour.
Oh and after 10pm? My phone goes on Do Not Disturb mode and even texts and calls don’t get through. Make technology be YOUR slave, not the other way around
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