I’ve been phoneless since two days before Christmas Eve. This wasn’t a planned phone-vacation – but it’s been an interesting one.
When I woke up the 22:d of December my phone was dead. It didn’t respond to charging at all, so I drew the conclusion that the battery was broken. The phone had been acting up, discharging quickly, getting hot sometimes, so it wasn’t totally unexpected. The phone was one of those models that (like most of them these days) is not made for easy changing of batteries, but I booted up the computer and found an instruction video on Youtube on how to do it yourself. It didn’t seem to daunting, and a replacement battery was only 150 SEK (around $ 15), so I ordered one. Due to the Christmas holidays, which in Sweden last from the 24:th to the 26:th the estimated delivery was on the 28:th.
I didn’t panic. You see, I have been practicing not being glued to my phone off and on for the last 2 years now. And we were on our way to picking up our grandchildren, 3 and 5 years old, to stay with us until the 24:th so I wasn’t planning on having much leisure time anyway. I notified my mother and my son (who place 99% of the calls I get, not counting salespeople) and let it go.
We had a couple of very nice but intense days with the kids. We had a lot of fun – since we don’t see them that often, they live 1.5 hours drive away, we planned nothing those days but to be with them: games, books, movies, food on regular hours – those days went by fast. A treat for them as well as for us – and their parents, who got to prepare the Christmas dinner without kids. Win-win all over.
And then we went with them back to their parents to celebrate Christmas (which we in Sweden do on the 24:th) with great food and a visit from Santa to give us the Christmas presents. Mr. Livslevandes and I drove back home in the evening, and the next few days were spent recovering… We are used to our rather quiet routines these days. And I’ve always enjoyed the days between the holidays.
The battery for the phone didn’t arrive on the 28:th. On weekends we get no mail deliveries, and Monday was New Year’s Eve – so no mail then either. Oh well. I didn’t miss my phone, we have a tablet and I found that I could do almost everything I’m used to doing on the phone there instead (but I wasn’t as tempted to carry it around with me, and so used it more rarely).
On December 29:th I went to pick up a friend of mine who was spending New Years with us. Another 2-hour drive (we live in the North of Sweden – lots of distance, not a lot of public transports). This was the first time I actually missed the phone. What if something happened along the way? I didn’t want to bring Mr. L’s phone, because then who would I call if something did happen! But after talking about it for a while we reminded ourselves that not that many years ago – for the greater part of our lives, in fact – nobody brought a phone in the car. And very few people got lost… My friend knew when I was supposed to arrive, she would start calling Mr. L if I didn’t. Just like old times. So I went, and everything went just fine, and my friend came home with me.
This is when things got interesting. Not having a phone made me very much aware of the times other used theirs – and in turn of how much I would probably have used mine, had it been functional. I recently read a great post by Mark Manson: Smartphones are the new cigarettes where he compares being exposed to others cellphone-use to being exposed to passive smoking. I agree.
Even though my friend – who is about my age – does not have her cell phone glued to her hand like younger people tend to, just the fact that it was in the same room occasionally beeping or ringing derailed both our attention. Even when it was quiet but potentially could signal at any second it was definitely a presence in the room. I also had not been aware of how often Mr. L pulls out his phone these days – it used to be that he berated me for never putting the phone down…
Like many of us, I like to do some evaluating and planning this time of year. Most of it was done in my Den. (The best thing I did for myself in 2018, hands down, was to get that room of my own!). I invited my friend to do some of it with me – but I made her leave her phone in the house. She remarked afterward on how much easier it was to concentrate on the task at hand.
My birthday is on New Year’s Eve, and I was still phoneless. But my family and close friends obviously know that I’m married to Mr. L, so when they couldn’t reach me on my phone to wish me Happy Birthday they tried his and reached me just fine. Remember when we used to have one phone in each house? It still works.
After New Years my friend left for home (better public transport on non-holidays). The battery arrived on January 2:nd, and I managed to replace it without problems. And the phone came back to life – but still refused to accept any charging, so it was a short revival… Turns out my first diagnose was wrong, the problem was not with the battery but with the charging port. I looked that up too – but changing the charging port requires soldering, and even though I actually know how to solder electronics we don’t have the equipment. The phone is a 4-year-old model. Even though I am frugal by nature and prefer to repair when I can over buying new stuff, I decided against buying equipment and a charging port and then likely having something else fail soon.
I did a quick check with family, friends, co-workers and Mr. L’s co-workers (there are times when Facebook actually comes in handy) if anybody had an old phone in a drawer somewhere, but we obviously don’t have any compulsive cellphone-buyers in our circles and nobody did. A quick check on the second hand-market brought only flagship-models which in my view are very expensive even second hand. So I decided to buy a new one.
Choosing a phone has previously been a very time-consuming effort for me. I like taking photos, and so when being forced to buy a new phone I have always set out to find a phone that takes the best pictures possible within my price range – and that takes time. But in my efforts to minimize my dependency on the phone, I bought a pocket-sized, nice camera on Black Friday. So all I had to think about this time was that the phone would do what I’m used to it doing without hiccups. (I actually debated getting myself a really dumb phone, but decided against it – I like to travel, and when I do a smartphone saves a lot of space and weight.) Since my last model was 4 years old, finding one that works just as well wasn’t hard to do. I ended up ordering a phone that has somewhat better specs all around then my old one (except for the camera) – and costs about half what that one did (even though I didn’t buy the old one when it had just come out on market, but waited until the next model got out and the price dropped).
I’m writing this on January 8:th. I’ve had some ordinary working days now, and that too works fine without my mobile phone (I work in an office by a computer, with a landline – I can be reached).
Online tracking now tells me that my phone is due to arrive today or tomorrow, at the latest. I’m not excited. Actually, I feel some reluctance. I like this phoneless life! It’s calmer – simpler. I know that when I get the phone, I’ll so easily revert to using it extensively again. But I will try to keep this feeling of freedom and actually put it away when I get home. I’ll keep most of the apps on the tablet only, bring only my camera when I go out for walks. And never allow myself to bring the phone to the Den! I’ll let that space stay dedicated to focused time.