June 5: #9: Go a day with your phone on airplane mode
June 6, 2017
Phil: This one has its obvious lessons and setbacks. We’re told almost every day about how addicted we are to our phones. I was well aware of this going in, and I was almost oddly looking forward to this challenge. It was like, “Finally. I can give myself a break from this thing.” And boy was it eye-opening. I definitely felt those impulses to check my phone pretty much all day. But I felt free, too. Now, I’ll admit that I cheated a bit. I spent the morning hours in my apartment with the phone on airplane mode, but the wifi on. I thought, “It didn’t say anything about wifi!” as if I had outsmarted my own damn challenge idea. But even with the wifi, the iMessages poured in, I sat on Instagram, Facebook, etc. I had to stop myself and turn it all off before work. Today, I wasn’t tethered down. I wasn’t available for anyone and everyone to contact me, at any given moment. It felt liberating. And yes, I know that a lot of this is mental. You can just have your phone on all day, but never check it. But today’s exercise reminded me where I’ve ended up allowing myself to feel free to check in anytime I wanted. I can’t say what I really missed, having the thing off all day. Maybe a few of those annoying news alerts that come every second? I never get any phone calls. I check my emails at work. I don’t need to be on Facebook all day. I was able to actually focus and read on my train ride into work, rather than checking to see if any texts came in before I flip to the next page. Screw my phone! I recently saw Tom Green live and he did this whole skit on how, in his day (the ‘80s and ‘90s), people used to just stand in a bush rather than be on their phone all day. They’d sit in the bush and think about what the hell it was. I want to sit in more bushes. And that was hard to realize, coming from the journalism industry.
Bruce: I was really excited about this challenge for Phil and I and especially to challenge anyone participating alongside since technology is so cripplingly pervasive. I won't rant on that, anyone who is familiar with my work knows that I have a strained relationship with technology. Admittedly I am very “plugged in” because I use my phone so much for making plans to do musical and creative projects as well as social media for awareness-raising of my artistic endeavors. I was excited until the night before, when I realized that a pen pal of 5 years who I've never met was in town and we wanted to make plans to meet up, and I had to drive A LOT to pick him up, get lunch and then drop him off and then get myself to work on time. I got sudden histrionic anxiety and started thinking about changing the challenge and texted Phil "fuck fuck fuck" histrionically! (Anyone who is remotely close to me knows that I have a comical-bordering-on-pathetic ineptness when it comes to navigation.). Before I went to bed I hand wrote all of the directions on a sheet of paper and then went to bed with my phone on airplane mode and jumped up and got out of bed quickly without the option to mess around on the Internet or check on my emails or social media or texts, that was very noteworthy! I got out to Flushing Queens 45 minutes away, miraculously for me (pathetic, remember?) With no problem and had a slight moment where I wasn't sure what door I should use and had to ring the doorbell… Gasp! I had a moment’s apprehension and anxiously plotted what I would do if I used the wrong doorbell! It ended up being the right door and I exhaled an absurd sigh of relief! Admittedly as I drove us to the breakfast place 45 minutes away, we got a little lost and because we were pressed for time I ended up cheating and turning on my phone just to use my GPS… I was made aware that by 11 o'clock I already had 30 or so text messages without me replying at all, think of all of those amassed distractions I’d normally have had to engage with, taking me from the everyday moments! I don't think that I'm alone in not being able to navigate without a GPS despite my terrible “inner-compass”! I ended up using my GPS to get home as well but otherwise did not interact with my phone at all until I had a slight moment of panic when my car started acting up and I couldn't rifle through the driver’s manual fast enough so I impulsively turned on my phone and used Siri to ask what to do… How insane is that? The answers were in the manual right in my hands but that was not fast enough! The rest of the night and my workday I didn't even have my phone physically near me and it made me feel much more present and engaged. at the end of my shift I was able to read and took a nap with no phone to apprehend the focus of my intent! I ended up going on a two hour walk to pick up oil for my car and simply walked and sang to myself and rapped as I often used to, unencumbered by any demands or addictively even having the urge or option to checking my phone periodically. It was very liberating and a hugely important reminder. As I'm writing this in Phil and my google doc it is nearly 9:30 and I have 45 unanswered texts. Usually I get back to people the moment I receive their message with frantic intentions if politeness and checking off a minor communicative task, but I’m experiencing a sort of profound and guiltless rewriting of that mentality that remind me these things can wait.
Tomorrow's challenge: #7 Replace your coffee with tea, or your tea with coffee