It's hard to believe that a mere 6 years ago I had never had a cell phone. I got my first, a Samsung flip-phone on Sprint, during my junior year of high school because I had started driving and my parents wanted to know that I could always call them or be called by them. Now, one high school graduation, college education, college graduation, and full-time job hire later (man, 6 years feels like FOREVER), I'm writing a blog post about not having a cell phone for a mere three days. I guess that's a testament to how fast technology has grown as a part of our lives, especially those of us who choose to make it a very large part of our lives. Last Wednesday I mailed my iPhone 4 to Amazon as part of their electronics trade-in program to help pay for my new iPhone 4S, which I expected to arrive the following Saturday. I had to mail it to them before I received my new phone because the longer you wait the more the trade-in values go down. Not having a phone in my pocket for the first time in 6 years was not that big a deal--I really almost never make calls any more. But not having an iPhone for the first time in only a year was a big change.
The first thing I did after wiping the phone and packaging it up was check Google Maps (on my Macbook) to find the nearest UPS Store and walking there. As I got to the block where I expected it to be I noticed that I saw only an apartment building and no UPS Store. My mind started racing. Where was it? Had I misread the map? Normally I would have checked Google Maps on my phone but obviously that wasn't an option. Was I going to have to walk all the way back to my apartment to check again? Or worse--was I going to have to ask someone on the street? I noticed my heart was starting to beat faster. The infinite source of information usually only inches out of reach was gone. It felt like I had lost a sixth sense. Suddenly I realized that I had merely turned one street too early and that the UPS Store was on the next block. Crisis averted.
Because I work at a desk, I really didn't miss the phone that much during the week. I was still able to communicate via Gchat and email and check Twitter anytime I was either at work or at home, which as it turns out is almost all the time. Every time I got up from my desk, however, I immediately noticed that my right front pocket was empty, and every time I got the usual pang of "Shit, where'd I leave my phone?" before realize that I hadn't left it anywhere. The only other major incident occurred during my drive home from work Friday.
Normally I use my iPhone as as GPS during my commute (for anyone else who has one, check out the free app Waze which crowdsources maps, traffic, hazard and speed trap data), and to listen to my music library and podcasts. For three days I was stuck listening to the radio. Have you listened to the radio lately? That was easily the worst part of not having my iPhone. But yesterday as I was driving home from work I heard a song I hadn't heard before. I really liked it but I didn't know the song, album or artist, so I decided to Shazam it. Oh right, no phone. Well then I'll just have to Google one of the lyrics. Oh right, no phone. Okay, I'll just make a note with one of the lyrics to remind me to Google it when I get home. Oh right, no phone. By the time I got home I had forgotten the lyrics, and I still don't know what song it was.
By the time I post this my iPhone 4S will have arrived. For a while I thought I wasn't going to receive it until Monday or Tuesday, which was disappointing, but it did make me think "Oh, at least I'll probably get some more interesting stories for this blog post." I consider myself to be one of the most "smartphone-addicted" people out there (my girlfriend can attest to that), but missing it for three days has made me realize, more than anything else, that it's not an addiction. Going without it really didn't bother me that much. It was certainly an inconvenience and I would absolutely rather not go through it again. But I'm no more addicted to my iPhone than I am to the car that I drive to work and back every day. Smartphones aren't a chain tying us down, they're a utility to make our lives easier. Nothing more.