Phone-Free | 10 to Twins | Jessica T | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

By Jessica T


Uploaded: Apr 6, 2014

Last week, I totaled my phone. I had a tough day at work, and as I got out of my car, I dropped the phone. I have made this mistake countless times, but on this day, my phone fell face first on a large rock and shattered. I cried for two nights out of sheer frustration.

Am I really that attached to my phone? No way! Then why was I crying about a device that keeps me tethered to work, reminds me of the friendships I no longer have time to cultivate, and evokes volunteer opportunities that I painfully ignore? I'm not sure... No one I cared about had been hurt, yet my phone has come to symbolize a set of my most intimate conveniences.

I couldn't call my mom on the way to work. I'd have to listen to music or the whizzing traffic of the 101 during my commute. I couldn't check the weather in the morning while deciding what I wanted to wear without stepping outside. I couldn't consult my calendar to determine where I needed to be without hauling out my laptop. And, perhaps most infuriatingly, I'd have to get a new phone. This brought on a whole host of experiences to dread: a trip to the cell phone store, uninstalling needless apps pre-installed on my new phone, etc.

I spent the past week and a half phone-free and what a glorious ten days it was. On my way out the door in the morning, I reassured myself that should I break down on the road, everyone except me carried a phone and would come to my rescue. But I shouldn't have worried. Breakdowns, after all, are not the norm. At work, I no longer had to juggle walking to meetings with an additional device on top of my laptop, notebook, and water bottle.

I made dates with friends by saying things like, "Remember, I'm phone-free!" Being phone-free was liberating! It was like I was a teenager in the 1990's once more. If you must reach me, call my landline at home, or better yet come find me! I couldn't check my phone compulsively to know what headlines had broken and who had responded to my email. Everything would have to wait.

My emancipation was real, if unrealistic. I think it's unlikely that the rest of the world will willingly join me in a phone-free state. We've become accustomed to letting our loved ones know when we are on our way home and to showing our friends we care with texts and photos. One simply can't participate in today's way of life without a smartphone.

And so this week I got another phone, nearly identical to the broken one. For now, at least, I seem less attached to it. It stayed zipped in my pocket for the entirety of my Saturday night date with my husband, and it napped at home while I took a long walk with my family on Sunday afternoon.

Going phone-free for a short period of time has reminded me that my phone is not my family -- it's infinitely replaceable and unimportant. And it certainly doesn't replace the splendors of living in the tactile world.