Matthijs Mali

ux architect, activator, pragmatic.

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Living without a smartphone

in: UX - 05 September 2020

For a while I wanted to try this out, living without a smartphone for a little while (even a few days). And this weekend I gave it a go.

We were going to Germany for a weekend with some friends. While stepping in the car I buried my phone under a pile of CD's. Usually I use Spotify to listen to music along the way. But when we bought our Prius in March it came with a CD player. And we still have loads of nice CD's lying around in a box in the attic.

The phone was still on, but I simply decided not to look at it. Using the navigation system in the car we managed to get to the place where we were supposed to go. What I like already was that we passed the house by a few 100 meters, since the navi didn't exactly allow for searching for the name of the house. So we had to make a U-turn. My wife recognized the house which helped :-)

After arriving I actually forgot to take my phone out of the car.

I did notice how phone centric all of our information gathering is these days. The place where we stayed provided leaflets and flyers. Even walking maps of the local area. But whenever we went somewhere, the phones came out of the pockets of my fellow travelers.

Some examples:

- Finding a restaurant (why not ask around?)
- While walking knowing which path to take (why not just try?)
- Listening to some music (there was an FM radio in the house that we also used though) (why not just the radio?)
- Showing others (why?) that we were having a good weekend through FB / Instagram (why at that moment?)
- Looking at the photos that were made (why look back at photos immeadeately?)
- Making quick snapshots (we also brought 'normal' cameras though (why not just enjoy the moment?)
- Looking for the closest supermarket (why not ask around?)
- Finding a parking spot in the city (why not follow the signs?)

We just returned home from our weekend. And I still managed not to look at my phone. It gives me inner peace and I kind of enjoy it. Even though the temptation is rising more and more to give it a quick check.

But I can't stop wondering why we isolate ourselves more and more from the outside world with these so called conveniences. I enjoy the little accidents happening all around me from day to day by just letting things happen when looking for something.

I guess I'll see for how long I can live without my smartphone.