Life without a mobile phone
I t’s been 16 months since I stopped using a mobile phone. My phone has died while I was hitchhiking a boat to Australia. When I finally arrived to Darwin, I went to a store to buy myself another one, but as I was searching through hundreds of phones, I got overwhelmed by all of the choice and thought… do I REALLY need one? How simple my life could be without a phone?
No endless, time-wasting scrolling through my phone.
No BREAKING NEWS!
No worry of losing a phone or somebody stealing it.
No hassle of always having it charged.
No need to lie about my phone number. The answer is always the same.
I don’t own a phone.
16 months without a mobile phone feels very freeing, but it didn’t come without the challenges. When I was looking for a job in Australia, I had to write down my friend’s phone number and make sure I was somewhere near him to receive a call and organize a meeting. I was lucky enough to find a job with the people who respected my decision not to carry a phone with me.
There was a challenge every time I crossed Australian border, because I was always asked for a phone number. The same happened when I was trying to register a post office parcel in my name. Again, I had to use my friend’s phone number. When I got lost, I couldn’t simply google for directions or call someone. It was a bit tricky at times, but worth the hassle.
I was surprised by all the positive reactions for not owning a phone. That was not something I expected, especially when coming from the culture where people compete who owns better phone, the newest model and a certain brand is an absolute must have and the culture where kids get bullied in school for having an old phone or not having one.
Good news for all of you bullied kids without the phone – stay patient; you will be in a very privileged category when 34. :)) People I came across have told me they would love to be able to put down their phones for a while, but they are too scared something bad is going to happen without them knowing or they wouldn’t be able to call someone for help if needed…
It’s hard to imagine what’s like spending your life thinking how something bad is going to happen… I prefer to think I don’t need a phone to be ready for whatever happens – and if there is a phone, it would only be a bonus. Given the fact that every person owns more than one phone, there would be plenty of “bonuses” and nothing to worry about. Even when I traveled through the poorest countries, the locals had the mobile phones.
After spending the last 3,8 years on the road, the backpackers often asked me to recommend them the best traveling app. They got shocked when I told them that I didn’t only know any app, but I didn’t even have a phone. Many times it happened that people who I didn't know that well, offered to give me their 2nd, 3rd or 4th phone they owned, but didn't use. I found that very interesting, because they have associated me being without the phone as being without the money to buy the phone. I wanted to find out what my life would be like without a mobile, so I politely rejected all the free phones that have been offered to me.
I’m not completely off the grid though. I still carry a little laptop with me to keep in touch with the world, and of course, to write these lines. It feels very freeing to shut down the laptop and walk around with nothing buzzing in my pocket, to sit in a café and lift my coffee as my only hand motion, to observe the world around me rather than the world through my phone. I feel more connected to the moment and calm. CALM. Not knowing EVERYTHING what’s going on in the world, right here and right now, all the exclusive/breaking news – is calming.
Most of the news I get bombarded with - either makes me sad, freaked out, helpless or irritated. It’s a noise that makes me feel a certain way about the world that I don’t want to feel, because it’s not the reality. It’s certainly somebody’s opinion, understanding or campaign, but hardly a reality.
Being switched on when I want to and switched off when I want to feels like taking back my power. The power to control how I feel, what I want to do and who I want to interact with. People seemed to be more appreciative of my time when they know I don’t have a phone and they tend to show up on time when we're meeting up.
Being without a mobile phone in 21 century might seem like going back in time, being passé and not following the progress. Feeling at peace while walking at my own pace is worth being called very untrendy on any given day. It's a privilege.