By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
If you’re like me, you take your smartphone with you almost as instinctively as you take your next breath. And I don’t mean you take it to work or on errands. I’m talking about taking it with you from room to room in your own house. (Let the record show I don’t take it into the bathroom because I’m not an animal and because I have no doubt it would somehow fall in the toilet.)
So, I’m writing this handy “How to Take a Day Off from Your Smartphone” tutorial so we can all prove to ourselves and others that we’re not technology-addicted zombies. We can take it or leave it. It’s not as if phones have become an integral part of the human brain (and often the more dependable part). These phones are not the boss of us, right? Right?
Step 1: Ignore the nagging feeling you’ve forgotten something important – like your lung. This is a common side effect when staging a 24-hour smartphone strike. I’d suggest calming yourself with a meditation app that includes deep breathing exercises, but obviously that’s not possible right now. It’s fine. We don’t need it.
Step 2: Go outside. Mother Nature doesn’t need a stinkin’ smartphone, right? And neither do we. We’re living, breathing creatures who aren’t at all curious to know if our weather app would tell us to take along an umbrella or if there’s a heat advisory today. If we get stuck in a thunderstorm or feel faint from the heat, we’ll just lie down on the sidewalk and wait for a Good Samaritan to pull over and call 911 with their smartphone.
Step 3: Distract yourself by going for a walk. We just need to get our bodies moving, and we’ll feel better. Our natural endorphins will kick in and we won’t even think about the phone anymore. We won’t wonder how many steps we’d be getting on the exercise app. We don’t need digital affirmation from a phone screen. It’s not like all these steps don’t even count if the phone is not with us to record them, right? Right?
Step 4: Relax and watch a movie. About 20 minutes into the movie, you’ll realize you’ve seen this actor in something else you watched years ago. But you can’t think of what it was. Don’t let it bug you, even though it’s right there at the front of your brain trying to scratch its way out. Try not to think about how satisfying it would be to pick up your phone and Google the actor’s name to figure out what other movie you’ve seen him in. That Google app is for the weak, and we are clearly strong and don’t need help from a smug smartphone who thinks it knows everything.
Step 5: Call a friend. Find a landline phone and pick it up so you can hear your dear friend’s voice. (And because you want to ask her what other movies this actor has starred in.) Try not to shame yourself when you realize you can’t make this phone call because you no longer know anyone’s phone number except your own. That information is known only by our smartphones, but this fact does not make us dumb. It doesn’t!
Step 6: Take a nap. Don’t even think about how it’s too quiet in the room without your smartphone’s white noise app lulling you to sleep. Maybe it’ll start raining and you won’t even need those digital rain sounds. Take that, technology!
Step 7: Wake up and reassess your life. Don’t panic when you realize your nap went two hours longer than you intended. It’s not our fault. We couldn’t set the alarm app on our smartphones because we were busy proving we didn’t need them.
At this point, we will have clearly shown we can survive just fine without a smartphone, thank you very much. This little experiment didn’t make us twitchy or nervous at all. We’re completely okay without the shiny, rectangular computer brains we carry around in a pocket or purse. Because we’re the ones in charge here, right?
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.