Living without my Galaxy S5 smartphone, day 5: I've not gone crazy yet

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

Several days ago, I embarked on a journey to a parallel universe – one where smartphones didn't exist. More specifically, they existed for everyone else but me. I had my Galaxy S5 locked away and was prohibited from using a personal smartphone of any kind. Instead, I was given a phone that could only make calls, exchange text messages, and double as a flashlight. This was the start of an experiment intended to demonstrate what would happen if a person as dependent on their smartphone as myself had to survive without their gadget. 

Today marks the fifth day since the start of my research, and I feel like it is time to share what I've experienced so far. And to make things clear, I have not been completely isolated from technology over the past five days. I still had a full-time job to do, which is why I had to use the phones here at the office, albeit on rare occasions. You know, to run a benchmark or to test a new app. Nevertheless, I've made quite a few noteworthy observations since being separated from my own smartphone, and the feelings so far have been both positive and negative.

The first step is always the hardest – that's something I heard in a cartoon when I was little. It was the Dexter's Laboratory episode where Dexter left his lab to explore the great outdoors under his sister's guidance. I could relate. At first, having no smartphone made me feel as nervous as if I had lost or forgotten something important, like I was missing my wallet or car keys. Having meals was not the same as I had no YouTube videos or funny pictures to look at. At the same time, I had my basic handset on me all the time and, driven by habit, I was frequently checking it for new messages and notifications even though I knew it had no internet access whatsoever. Also, when I wanted to check the weather forecast or look something up, I automatically reached for my potato phone since that's what my brain was wired to do. This is how I behaved during the first several days of my experiment.

Speaking of habits, I'm used to taking down notes and setting reminders on my smartphone. If a new task comes up at work, if I hear about a movie I want to watch, or if an idea pops up in my head, I write it down in Google Keep. Having no smartphone, however, meant that I had to write things down on paper and rely more heavily on my own memory. Sure enough, I forgot about an assignment I had to complete, and I forgot about it two days in a row. (Thankfully, it was not of high priority.) Has my smartphone hurt my ability to remember things? No, I highly doubt it. Quite the contrary – having no easy way of taking notes and setting reminders is now making me appreciate something I've been taking for granted all along.

On-screen QWERTY keyboards are another thing I now appreciate more. I had forgotten how long it took and how frustrating it could be to type a simple text message using a numeric keypad. And yes, I had to start using SMS messages again as I had no access to IM services unless I was in front of a computer. To be honest, being disconnected from the web, from messengers, from funny cat videos, and social media brought me to moments of anxiety, at least at first. Inside of me could feel the urge to go online, but, of course, I couldn't. Three days into my experiment, however, I was already starting to enjoy not having my phone beep or vibrate every few minutes and I no longer felt the need to check my social network feeds all the time.

That's about it for now, guys. Obviously, I did not go insane from being away from my Galaxy S5, and I don't think I will by the end of my experiment. But I can definitely feel the effects of being disconnected from my smartphone, and I'm sure there's more for me to experience over the 9 remaining days. I'd like to thank all of you for the supportive comments and for the genuine interest expressed in this project. Expect me to post another update on my progress in several days.

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