I usually don’t go anywhere without my phone — not even to the bathroom in my own apartment. Smartphones can do absolutely everything from helping us navigate place to place and allowing us to transfer money, to providing us with a million different ways to keep in touch with our friends and family. We’re so reliant on our phones that it can be hard to imagine going even an hour without them.
We’ve all heard of social media cleanses, and maybe you’ve even done one yourself. I’ve wondered what it’d be like to do a social media cleanse or even leave my phone at home for a weekend. Would I be able to survive?
For this experiment, that’s exactly what I did. I left my phone off and at home for a weekend.
Here’s what happened and what I learned:
I had FOMO — fear of missing out — but I didn’t really miss anything.
I kept thinking, what if someone texts me to do something? What if I miss a call (or 10) from my mom? What if I get invited to the best party ever, but I don’t have my phone, and I don’t see the invites in time and everyone thinks I’m ignoring them?
Upon turning my phone back on late Sunday night, I had a few missed calls and Snapchats, and only six text messages that I had missed … all weekend. I discovered that the people I tend to talk to the most I’m usually with on the weekends already, so there wasn’t much to miss. I had FOMO, but I didn’t really miss much at all.
I felt a little left out (but more present) when out with friends
Phubbing — “the act of snubbing our partners for our phones” is a common behavior affecting most relationships. I got phubbed a time or two during my weekend-long experiment of leaving my phone at home.
There were times when I was at dinner with friends, or just hanging out before heading downtown that I found myself sitting around and just watching everyone on their phones. While it felt weird, it was also an opportunity for me to make more of an effort to lead conversations.
I wasn’t staring at this screen all day.
I was able to talk and listen with no distractions — no habitual checking of my texts, or trying to have a conversation while scrolling through every single social media platform. Not having my own phone with me allowed me to be more present and more in the moment with the people who were right there.