I Went Unplugged for 24 Hours
No smartphone and no Internet, I navigate the real world without the help of my iPhone for a day.
Most of us that own smartphones tend to never leave the house without it. We wake up and check our emails. Take a lunch break and check our text messages. Get home and scroll aimlessly through social media until it’s way past our bedtimes and our bodies are begging us to go to sleep. Why do we constantly have our smartphones in our hands? The answer is simple: addiction.
12:00 AM: I unplug myself from all technology. At this time, I am no longer allowed to use my cellphone, laptop, or gaming console, or hook up to the internet.
I officially unplugged at midnight and I shoved my phone between my mattress to make sure I didn’t pick it up in the morning by accident. After spending an entire night tossing and turning over dreams of using my cellphone, I finally woke up at 6:30 AM and had breakfast. So far, so good.
By 8:30 AM, I was on my way to do laundry at the laundromat. Things were going well, until I had to wait an hour with nothing to do while my clothes ran through machines. I didn’t think to bring a novel or notebook, so I sat on the bench and twiddled my thumbs until my clothes were done.
11:15 AM: I arrive at the library.
On a normal day, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to the library until after noon due to my seemingly insurmountable phone addiction. I would have spent at least an hour total scrolling through my phone. Once I get into the library, I become more aware of my not having a cellphone when I see a book one of my friends would enjoy and as I reach for my phone to text her, I am greeted by an emptiness in my purse that I’ve not felt since I was a child.
I constantly thought about things I wanted to research. Random thoughts that crossed my mind led to questions only answerable by Google. Every time I sat in my car the thought of plugging my phone into the aux cord was immediate. My phone addiction felt inescapable.
12:00 PM: I’ve reached the halfway mark. I go to Starbucks and read one of the books I checked out as I sip on my iced tea. Multiple times during my Starbucks visit, I feel the desire to reach for my nonexistent cellphone.
Not only did I realize that not having my cellphone was nearly intolerable, but my attention span is practically nonexistent these days. I couldn’t keep my eyes on my book for so long before I got distracted by the cars passing by, or the people coming through the door, or the wind pushing against the umbrellas. I began to feel angry that I couldn’t shut down my other senses to focus on reading.
I began to worry that something horrible might happen to a friend or family member and nobody would be able to get a hold of me. The likelihood of a devastating event was very slim, but once the thought was there, I couldn’t get rid of it.
After about an hour of trying to read but being too distracted to finish more than one chapter, I leave Starbucks and head to a shopping center to replace some clothes. I grow very annoyed with having to listen to the radio every time I get back in my car. Why are there so many damned commercials? And why does the radio only play the same five artists?
2:30 PM: I’ve arrived back home and have finished doing all the things I wanted to do.
With no technology eating up my free time, I found it much easier to get everything done. On a normal day, after completing all my errands, it would have been about 6:00 PM.
Upon arriving back home, I did check the lock screen of my cellphone to ensure I didn’t have multiple text messages or missed calls from my family, but I did not read any texts or use my cellphone at all. I decided to cook lunch at home for once. After that, I read another couple chapters in my book and took a much needed nap.
5:00 PM: Still no reason to leave the house again, I decide to paint for a few hours.
It usually takes me a couple of hours to finish one painting due to interruptions with my cellphone. I finished two within 2 1/2 hours.
With it now being 7:30 PM and another 4 1/2 hours before I can use my cellphone, I put on a DVD and decide that it doesn’t count as using technology since no internet is involved and it was based on historical content.
10:00 PM: Two hours left. I clean up my apartment, wash and dry my hair, and spend some time meditating.
As midnight came around the corner, I pondered on my day and realized just how enjoyable it had been with no technology. For once, I wasn’t reading news articles that worried me or receiving texts about things that upset me. An entire day had gone by where I felt nothing but pure bliss. Everything felt easy and simple, like it does when you’re a child. The thought of ditching my iPhone for a flip phone actually crossed my mind.
Once midnight hit, I truthfully didn’t even have a reason to use my phone. I checked my text messages, but I didn’t feel compelled to answer any of them. I hated to disturb the newfound peace I’d established for myself, so I quickly put my phone back down and went to sleep.
Going an entire 24 hours without using a cellphone greatly increased the amount of time I had in the day and it kept me from feeling weighed down by the world around me. I found a rare form of happiness in my 24 hours that some people might never experience, and I plan on going a day without technology at least once a week from now on. I also decided to set limits on when and how I can use my phone.
After my experience, I think everyone should try going 24 hours with no technology and feel for themselves how freeing it can be.
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Marnie is the sole writer and editor for “With Love, Marnie,” a storytelling publication about making the most out of life through minimalism and positive living. Marnie is the author of “a black and white rainbow,” a poetry book about love, loss, and coming out. Purchase Marnie’s book here and follow her on twitter here.