A Day Without A Phone

Just after my daughter left to go home the other night, I realized that she had forgotten her iPhone at our place. I picked it up and asked my husband what I should do. I mean, I couldn’t CALL her.

Then I looked out the window and saw her drive up again. Phew!

She told me that her Apple watch had warned her that it was no longer connected to her phone, and that made her realize she’d left it behind.

Holy geez, technology, eh? I could have used that little trick a couple of weeks ago.

My husband and I were heading over to the mainland, walking on the ferry to spend the day with family. But it wasn’t until we sat down in the waiting area at the BC Ferries terminal that I realized I’d forgotten my phone at home.

It’s not the first time I’ve left my phone at home, but this time I was going to be without it until we got back late that night. So ALL DAY.

Isn’t a strange feeling to not have your phone? I mean, you feel kind of lost, and a slight case of panic sets in. Sometimes more than a slight case.

What if I miss a news alert? What if someone texts me? What if…I don’t know…ANYTHING happens with my phone and I DON’T KNOW ABOUT IT?

I looked around the waiting area at the terminal and saw that at least half of the people there were staring at their phones. I started to feel jealous.

Then I thought, jealous? I laughed to myself. I mean, come on Irene. You lived a huge chunk of your life without a cell phone! What’s the big deal?

I looked around again and challenged myself to have a different kind of day. And this time, looking at all of those people glued to their phones, I started to feel just a little bit holier than thou.

A lot of them didn’t see the ferry come in to dock. Or the flock of seagulls swooping around, chasing each other in the sunshine. Most didn’t even realize the ferry had arrived until the announcement came on.

They may have briefly looked up to see if the passenger line was moving, but then their heads dropped back down to their phones again.

When I come to think of it, that’s a pretty common sight these days; heads staring down at phones. Especially with younger people.

I go for walks at least twice a day around our neighbourhood and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone look up from their phone, surprised to see me walking towards them.

And then there are the ones who even dare to cross the street with their heads down.

I’ve noticed that a number of times while I’m driving. People literally walking in all kinds of traffic, oblivious to everything but that darn phone.

This distraction causes what some experts say is a “loss of situational awareness.” And it can create all kinds of dangerous scenarios.

For instance, there was a story in the Washington Post recently about a seventh grader in Warren, Michigan named Dillon who, along with his school mates, was travelling on their school bus.

He was the only one who noticed when something went wrong. The school bus driver had fainted, and the bus started drifting to one side.

Dillon ran up, grabbed the steering wheel and stepped on the brake.

Why was he the only one who noticed? Because he didn’t have a phone. The rest of the students on the bus were staring down at theirs and didn’t realize what was happening until the bus jerked to a halt.

As Dillon said “What else are you going to when you don’t have a phone? You’re going to look at people. You’re going to notice stuff.”

When we found our seats on the ferry, I had a book to read so I did that for awhile. And I looked out the window in wonder at this amazing place we live. The water, the islands, the mountains. Spectacular.

Had I been swiping through Twitter or Facebook, I might have missed all that. Just as about half of the ferry passengers actually did.

I did notice one thing that irritated me more on that ferry trip. Oh my lord, can people please learn how to turn off their car alarms? Who’s going to steal your car ON THE FERRY?

At dinner with our family later that day, I was completely engaged in the conversation. There were no annoying news alerts beeping on my phone to distract me, no temptations to check it “just in case”.

On the ferry ride home, I watched the hockey finals on the TV in the sitting area. Is it just me, or are half the games taken up with fighting? For pete’s sake, just score a bleeding goal!

But when we got home that night, I have to admit I ran into the house to look for my phone. It was a huge relief when I finally had it in my eager little hands.

What did I miss? Some news alerts about what some crazy politician said, and the final score of the hockey game. Big deal. Already knew that.