On my first day back on campus for my junior year at Purdue, the unthinkable happened… I lost my phone. I had met up with a friend to catch up and drink some bubble tea by the clock tower, and at some point had received a text asking what I was doing later that night. I responded, set my phone down, finished up tea, and walked back to my apartment. Halfway back, I realized that the miniature computer I had only had since last October was not in my purse… or my pockets… and when I walked back to the bench we had been sitting on, I found that it wasn’t there either. I tried to text the friend I had been hanging out with, only to remember that was nearly impossible without a phone.
I traced my steps a few times and said a silent prayer of thanks that I already had dinner plans, so when I arrived at the restaurant I had my friends call my phone and leave a voicemail. “Wait… you need my password to get into my voicemail. WAIT… you need my tracer passcode to get into my phone.” I remotely installed apps for lost phones, set a screen telling anyone who found my phone to call my mom at her number, forced my phone to send me pictures and sound bytes of its location, tried to use GPS (the radius of its potential location was 1856 meters. Thanks, phone), and went on several recon missions until the battery’s inevitable death. For days after I frequented the campus’s lost and found locations and checked the activity online, but all my efforts were fruitless, and remained fruitless for the next two weeks, until I got a SIM card for my high school flip phone. But during those two long weeks, something crazy happened.
I survived the experience.
The thing I was most worried about was becoming a social recluse. How do you make plans without a phone? But I found something encouraging – when my friends wanted to see me or were making group plans, they made the effort to reach me on Facebook or texted the people they thought I would be with to make sure I was still getting included. After a two-day-long withdrawal period, it was even kind of nice not having a phone in my pocket all the time, and I found I was able to focus for longer periods of time on a single thing. The drawback was I did get a little Facebook addicted, but when I wasn’t around a computer that wasn’t really a problem.
Thanks to my incredible parents (who dealt with two weeks of intermittent online chatting, as my computer mic was also broken, taking Skype convos out of the picture) I do have a functioning phone now, and I would absolutely choose having a phone over not having a phone (just being honest). But it was nice to get a little taste of a life unwired; it allowed me to see that I didn’t need to be constantly connected, and the friendships I had were meaningful enough that my friends put a little bit of extra effort into including me. I do feel as though phones and iPads and all this social connecting all the time has driven us a little up the wall, and the confirmation that I could survive without it all was good, as I really do sometimes wonder. It’s something good to keep in mind as we go through our lives in this culture – you can survive without a constant connection!