7 days without a mobile phone – feeling disconnected – addiction and rehab – feeling connected – the world is yours
As I write this seven days passed without using my mobile phone for a single second.
One week ago, I destroyed it totally. During the time without a mobile phone, I noticed that I was highly addicted to its use. Those days without it felt like a rehab. I lived more in the moment. Without spending too much time on the mobile phone, the world is yours.
The moments after seeing my phone dead, I was emotional. I felt queasy. Firstly because of the money I invested a few months ago, money which I know had to invest again. There are not many things that make me feel more uncomfortable than unforeseen costs. However, I felt social pain too. I thought about all my people who are texting me, waiting on a response they won’t get. I really felt that I lost the connection to my people. I felt socially disconnected. I was so messed up that I did not eat until 2 pm. I wrote with a few people through Facebook using my Laptop.
When I was writing with Aaron Campbell, as always, he handed out advice. Following his words, I headed to the beach to get a free mind, because I really needed to get away from the picture of four 100 € bills laying in the form of a destroyed phone in front of my table.
I left the house without a mobile phone for the first time in months. It was weird because I am using my phone for everything. Including listening to music at the beach or during working out. Even though I use to switch the airplane mode on, it is almost every time in my pocket or next to me. Just during sleep, I put it in another room, which due to my experience surely increases the quality of sleep. Because I am not a big watch wearer usually my cell phone is telling me what time it is.
I was laying at the beach for a certain time, without listening to music, without checking Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, just reading and enjoying the incredible sunshine. I got a bit sunburned. Due to no distractions, my awareness rose. I was watching the people around me and listened to their stories. I saw the sea gulls flying. I watched the waves flowing. I saw a wall. Watching this wall, I found a principle for life. I swear that I didn’t smoke or drink. I was sober, enjoying the rehab from my drug, the mobile phone.
So, there I was, watching this wall. It was one of those old walls, without plastering, nothing fancy. You could see that it was built stone by stone. It was a massive wall. It seemed like it stood there for hundred years. And if no man will come across with a wild idea to destroy it, it will continue to stand there for the next hundred years. Investigating its characteristics, I asked myself:
What can this wall teach us?
And I came up with the following: Big and strong things are built step by step stone by stone. Massive things are built by the sum of small things put together. And you must start with one step, one stone. And you don’t start at the top. You start at the bottom. You start with the basics, building a fundament. Then you are adding stone after stone, making sure, filling up the spaces between the stones with cement so that the stones stick together. Forgetting that detail, the stones will destroy each other, the wall would collapse. And if just one stone would be missing the whole wall/whole life would be shaky, losing its balance and its strength. Obviously, this is no new concept for success, but discovering it in a new way for me by watching a wall at the beach, will stick to my mind.
Without my smartphone, I felt like I was at the bottom of my social connections. I had the idea to rent a phone from friends and wrote to a few without being successful. Then I felt that this dilemma could be an opportunity. When do you have the chance to experience days without a mobile phone? Probably never – who would in these modern times voluntarily be without a mobile phone?
I was curious. I was hooked. Instead of renting an old phone I decided to experience the days till the arrival of a new phone without a mobile phone. I ended up having an entire week without a mobile phone.
When I leave the house, I am used to doing the famous triple check: keys, wallet smartphone/headphones. Now I left the house just with keys and my wallet. I felt kind of naked. But after time I felt free, without weight. Nowadays, smartphones weigh almost nothing – mine 158 g / 0,34 LB to be exact.
However, for me it felt like I was leaving something behind that weighed a ton.
I left behind the urge to check my phone, the urge to answer everybody, my habit to listen to music or a good podcast, and that felt freeing. I left my addiction in my house. Because, well, I am addicted to my smartphone, and if you ask yourself, you probably are as well. How many times are you checking your smartphone daily? How often are you on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and co.?
Speaking for myself, I am often there, more often than I could count it, watching videos, watching Instagram and Snapchat story. Sometimes I get lost on Facebook. An hour passes and I think what the hell happened. Then I feel like I am living life through a cell phone screen.
Without a phone, obviously, for that to happen is less probable.
Instead of consuming social media. I was walking through the streets with an open mind. On my way to university, which I took about 500 times, I noticed little things I haven’t noticed before thinking: how beautiful, how could I overlook that. I noticed small pieces of art, graffiti, nice architectural details, beautiful flowers that were planted in a park. However, I did not overlook the tons of people walking with heads down looking at their smartphone, raising for one second their heads so that they don’t walk against someone to follow being caught in the virtual world.
When I saw these people, I noticed that they were walking through life like Zombies. They were not smiling. Not even one. They were not noticing the palm trees, the beautiful buildings, the blue sky, birds flying, beautiful other people. They could not hear the birds singing, the laughter of other people, the diversity of languages. To their danger, they often did not notice signal horns by cars who almost run over them because they went by red traffic light.
7 days ago, I was one of them. Missing out on all the beauty around me. And I was missing out when I was surrounded with people as well. We all know a phenomenon that struck me while being in group of people. You are having a nice conversation. Then one person starts to check his/her phone. Another one checks it as well. Until everyone is living social life through his/her smartphone. Then it takes a few minutes till the conversation gets going again through the movement in reverse. One putting his/her smartphone into his/her pocket, subconsciously putting pressure on the next one, who animates the next one, till every smartphone is in its place where it belongs. In the pocket.
Normally I am guilty being an initiator, starting to check the phone. The last days I obviously couldn’t. However, I had the need to do it. Through social pressure I felt the need to check my phone, avoiding to feel awkward being the only person not checking the phone. But I could not check it. And I felt awkward. I felt socially disconnected, being physically near to a group, who was mentally socially connected with people far away. Instead of letting me put down, I did the only thing possible. I looked around, finding beauty in the moment. Every moment around us there is something special happening. We just must look around and find it. The minutes we are looking at our mobile phones while being outside or while being with friends we miss out.
Obviously, the mobile phone is a great, great tool. And social media is one of my favorite inventions of this century. But we should be aware that we don’t go too far. What do I mean with that? The best answer I can give is by citing Logic, one of my favorites Rapper, “Everybody looking for meaning of life through a cellphone screen”.
I know it is pure irony, that I am posting this text on Instagram and Facebook. And that you are reading through a cell phone screen, but well that is how the world works, and shows the positive side of Social Media, the side why I really love it: being able to share stories, thoughts, and pictures – being connected with friends from all over the world. Cell phones are just the primary tool of connection.
I was without a phone. But I was not alone. By making use of other devices I was skyping the same day with my mentor and friend Aaron Campbell from London, talking with my family in Germany and friends in Poland, the Netherlands and the United States. Cell phones are just the primary tool of connection. Life without a cellphone is possible. And one day another tool will take its place. But we cannot and will never again live in a world being disconnected with our friends. We will continue to be connected always, with people around the globe.
Those 7 days without a mobile phone were a break that I desperately needed.
Because the addiction to my smartphone is real. And the level of the addiction was going way too far. Now using my drug again, I need to implement a mobile phone free time daily to not relapse again, to not overuse my mobile phone again. The feeling of disconnection, not checking the phone that often, was very relaxing and relieved me from stress.
On the one hand, I felt disconnected suffering a social loss. On the other hand, I felt better, more being on my own. Switching on the airplane mode more frequently or even leaving the house without a smartphone will be one tool I use to gain that relaxed state of mind. I was more creative and more productive. With the gained insight, I am in the fortunate position to spend a day of vacation when I want and need to. Just by leaving my mobile phone at home and heading to the beach.
Even though I will use my phone with pleasure. Because without a mobile phone the easiest things get difficult. Meeting with friends at an unknown location for instance. Normally, you just send the location. I needed to go somewhere new without checking Google Maps what obviously is possible. Not having the opportunity to send locations, to send and receive a message at every second can let you end up seeing a bar closed, heading home because you do not know where your friends went instead. For sure I will not miss that.
The last two days without a mobile phone I was experiencing ambivalent feelings. Sometimes I wished I would never get my mobile phone back. I was just way more relaxed, way more focused on my writings and other things that matter to me. I did not feel the urge to reply to someone. I was living more and more in the moment. It felt great. During other moments, I wished to have my new phone. I desired to listen to music while walking through Barcelona, I wanted to have the freedom to text people while I was on the way. I wanted to use the time going to Uni listening to Podcasts.
However, when I took my destroyed phone and put it in my pocket, it was an awkward feeling. Those 158 grams of weight felt like a lot of stress coming up. I hated it. But well, now holding the new phone in my hands I cannot negate all the upsides it brings with it. I will not turn my life to live it the Amish way.
Mobile phones are great. Overusing them makes them evil. We must raise our heads to observe and experience the things around us more. We must leave them at home from time to time. We must leave them in the pocket when we are having face to face interactions. Because social interaction is mainly what we are trying to find using our smartphones. Think about it, what are we doing with our phones?
We are writing via WhatsApp, sending snaps via Snapchat, commenting and liking Pics on Instagram, commenting and sharing videos on Facebook. And why all that? Either to keep in touch with our social connections or to present ourselves in a certain way.
But we certainly need to give ourselves mobile free time. Try it!
While being offline, while being disconnected with the whole planet you will feel more connected with the real world – then – the whole world will be yours.
Citing the great Simon Sinek talking about the use and addiction to cell phones perfectly sums up my gained perspective and insight:
“Alcohol is not bad, too much alcohol is bad. Gambling is fun, too much of it is dangerous. There is nothing wrong with social media and cell phones. It´s the imbalance. If you are sitting at dinner with your friends and you are texting somebody who is not there, that’s a problem, that’s an addiction. If you wake up and check your phone before you say good morning to your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse you have an addiction.
If you don’t have the phone, you just kind of enjoy the world. And that is where ideas happen. With constant engagement, you don’t have ideas. Ideas come when our minds wander and when you see something and you think, I could do that, that’s called – innovation. With a phone, we are taking away all those little moments.”
I hope I will continue to enjoy those little moments and that I won´t relapse.
I am happy that I destroyed my phone. Well, the loss of the money was heartbreaking. But money comes and goes. The insights I gained will stay forever.
Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read my text!!!
I highly appreciate it!!