Have you ever lost or broken your phone?
Of course you have, everyone has, and if you haven’t then stop reading right now and continue living your perfect and utterly unrelatable life.
I’ve lost and broken plenty of phones in a plethora of embarrassing and downright creative ways. My most recent mishap was this past December when I lost my iPhone 5s somewhere between getting out of an Uber — which I’d requested — and my apartment’s front stoop. (We’re talking a total distance of 10 to 15 feet.)
My upgrade wasn’t until February so I decided to tough it out, but I quickly realized that it’s nearly impossible to function as a 28-year-old working in New York without a phone. So after two weeks of living a delightfully phone-less lifestyle, I activated my girlfriend’s old iPhone 4 and re-acclimated myself to living in the year 2010. And you know what? It wasn’t the end of the world.
1. The cameras nowadays are light-years better.
It’s astounding how much cell phone cameras have evolved in the past decade, and you really appreciate how far they’re come when you’re forced to journey back down the totem pole. The camera suffered similar problems as the rest of the apps — it was incredibly SLOW. It takes entirely too long to take a spur-of-the-moment picture, which ruins its essential purpose. Also, where are my pixels?! I need my pixels! Unless the lighting is perfect, the quality sucks. So I inevitably stopped taking pictures and had my friends with better phones text me their infinitely clearer shots.
2. Real-life interaction with humans kinda sucks.
One of the greatest things about having a smartphone is the ability to bury your face in that little handheld computer screen and signal to people around you to kindly back the fuck off. It’s a modern day “Do Not Disturb” sign that you can carry with you anywhere you go. No one likes to have awkward 35-second conversations about the weather in the elevator — your phone is a sanity preserver. However the key is actually having something on your phone that warrants your attention, and the snail-like speed at which the apps moved made that impossible. You can only fake-stare at Twitter’s loading screen for so long.
3. But at the same time, having real-life interactions with people isn’t too bad either.
Guess what? Talking to people won’t cause you to break out into hideous boils and kill you. I know a lot of people say it, but I walked the walk — and I’m still breathing. Sure, it can be awkward — elevator rides and waiting in lines can be tough without the comfort of Twitter or Instagram — but real, live breathing people aren’t that bad. Having random interactions with strangers and helping people out with directions can actually feel a little rewarding. Sometimes you forget the world outside our own self-created social media bubbles. It can be thrilling to re-acclimatize.
4. I never came remotely close to going over my data limit.
The one positive about having a shitty internet browser and apps that take years to open is you don’t use them nearly as much. The browser froze and crashed so often it was basically useless. Trying to google something quickly? Not gonna happen. Want to know the score of the game? You’re better off calling a friend to google it for you, or even asking a random person on the street. Want to stream a video? Fuhgeddaboudit. The browsing capability is a step up from your Razr flip phone in high school.
This saved me actual money — since I used to go over my data limit with relative ease. Now, I get to keep that 15 or so dollars, and spend it on pizza.
5. No one has an iPhone 4 charger.
No one has an iPhone 4 charger lying around at their desk at work or behind a bar. I could only find ONE in my apartment, and the one I bought from CVS decided when it wanted to work. My charger was equally as important as my phone — which stressed me out as I watched the cord quickly fray.
6. But the battery life was ACTUALLY awesome.
It lasts forever. No, seriously, it does. If I charge my phone to 100% it would last me over two days. My iPhone 5s battery seemed to disappear within hours. I rarely left my apartment without a charger. At work I used to leave my 5s constantly charging. It was something I always needed to be conscious of — as we all know, low battery life means imminent death.
7. The touchscreen was temperamental as hell.
Either it lagged, was overly sensitive, or didn’t register my touch at all. This was most embarrassing when the flashlight app randomly turned on in the gym locker room.
Let me tell you, there are dirty looks, and then there are looks people give you when it seems like you forgot to turn the flash off for a creepshot of them naked.
8. Spotify took forever to load.
I completely and utterly gave up listening to music on my phone. The app takes so incredibly long to load that it was rendered almost useless on my phone. And when the app did choose to open, the music would either refuse to play, skip like a Walkman when going over a bump, or shut down entirely. This was especially annoying at the gym where not only am I already unhappy, but now I got to bask in my unhappiness without the benefit of the same songs I’ve been listening to since high school.
9. And so did Uber.
This has become an absolute essential app in the lives of just about everyone I know. It eliminates the inconvenience and unpredictability of hailing a cab, trumped-up flat rates, and the awkward end-of-ride transaction. Typically, you can split the fare or take turns grabbing an Uber with friends. Not me! Because my Uber app barely worked. It took about 10 minutes to start up and another 5 for the GPS to register my location. It took all of the convenience out of the process and made me look like a cheap asshole leeching off my friends. On the bright side, I had the old symbol on my app — so vintage, right guys?
10. I absolutely loved the size and weight of the iPhone4.
Yes, it’s significantly heavier than every new phone on the market. It looks and feels like a brick compared to the current crop of iPhones. But I liked it! And aesthetics are important! The weight made me feel like I was holding something important that I shouldn’t lose or drop (whoops).
11. Apple maps took forever so I had to google directions on my computer before going anywhere.
GPS on our phones has made getting around incredibly easy. I don’t have a car and I rarely drive, so I use Apple maps to keep myself from looking like an asshole when I get out of the subway and don’t know if I should make a right or left. Getting momentarily lost sucks wherever you are, but it’s exponentially worse standing in a NYC wind tunnel on a Saturday night in January.
12. I wasted significantly less time on social media.
My social media game has undoubtedly taken a hit by my journey in the out-of-date technology time machine. It was nearly impossible to brag about what I was doing, beg desperately for the approval of my peers, or make witty comments that I’m not quick enough to say in person. It sucks! Yeah, maybe I don’t need 41 likes on my sunset picture that everyone took after that storm on that spring day. And maybe I don’t need to Snapchat my girlfriend snoring or tweet incessantly about The Bachelor. But it’s 2016 and it’s my goddamn right to and it made me sad that I can’t.
My excuse for the stupid amount of time I spend on social media is “I work on the internet.” It’s a shitty excuse, but that’s what I tell my girlfriend all the time. I didn’t quite realize how much time I was wasting until my access to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook (yeah, I know, I’m lame, whatever) was restricted. Now, granted I still didn’t know what to do with my newfound free time, except feel increasingly awkward about what to do with my hands, but it’s nice to have some perspective.
13. I stopped living my life through a tiny screen:
This is probably my most important takeaway from this experience — you don’t need a smartphone. Our parents are right. You can exist on this planet without a tiny computer in your pocket to hold your hand. Sure, it’s an incredible convenience, but it’s not something we need to rely on in order to exist. Everywhere I went I noticed everyone whose face was buried in there phone — whether they were sending a text, taking a picture, reading, tweeting, or browsing Instagram — and I wanted to tell them to look around and experience the minutia of day-to-day life. I felt corny as hell thinking it, and I feel embarrassed as hell to be writing it down, but it’s true. So I guess in some ways losing my iPhone 5s was one of the best things to happen to me — I couldn’t get an Uber and I still don’t know how to make small talk in the elevator, but at least I now recognize that the moment exists.