Few people these days can go an entire day without compulsively checking their smartphone.
Back in February, based on a statistic that was first noted by Nokia at MindTrek in 2010, I asked you ladies and gents how often you check your phone. According to Nokia, in 2010, the average person checks his or her phone 150 times each day – or once every 6.5 minutes, nine to 10 times each hour.
That statistic, however, dates back to over two years now.
In the event you haven't noticed, the mobile industry is always changing – both on the consumer and technological sides. In two very short years, smartphones have changed quite dramatically. They have transgressed from mobile email devices into irreplaceable, powerful, pocket-sized tools.
As such, many people have come to rely on their handset to perform a specific set of tasks, to either assist or automate processes that would otherwise require a computer. I now can and do use my smartphone to do many of the things I could only rely on my computer to do in the past. But for many, including myself, smartphones have become a rather polished mobile entertainment source, too.
Now imagine all of that going away, if only for one day. A cringing thought, isn't it?
Dean Obeidallah, a political comedian and former attorney, wrote a piece for CNN's Our Mobile Society bit wherein he details a day where he (willingly, as part of an experiment conjured up by his editors) spent an entire day without his smartphone. Titled A day without a cell phone, Obeidallah explains he first felt liberated, free of the oppressive nature of a never-ending influx of notifications that constantly beg and pull your attention away from the real world. Says Obeidallah:
"Instead of texting or checking my e-mail, I began to actually look at the people I was sharing the streets with. It truly resembled a movie set filled with extras from all walks of life. A beautiful woman walked quickly past me while fixing her make up. Asian tourists were busy snapping photos. A businessman looked busy talking on his phone. A group of Hasidic men were kibitzing while an Arab man sold falafel from a cart."
Then Obeidallah experienced the stressing feeling we all feel when flashing LEDs on our cell phones tell us the battery is about to die. What if we miss something important? An emergency call, a business email an SMS about dinner? (Obviously missing the typical dinner SMS is the most frightening of all …) Then he reported phantom vibrations, although his phone wasn't even in his pocket. He said, "My stress level started to escalate," to the point he used a pay phone to check his voicemail. Now that's serious business.
After checking his voicemail, he wandered the streets of New York City for 45 minutes before he found an Internet cafe to check his email for $2 for 12 minutes. He began to feel lonely and disconnected.
All of these feelings are ones anyone with a cell phone should be able to relate to, specifically those of you with smartphones. The iPhone 5 died on me earlier this week after a day and a half of moderate use. Although I always have a second smartphone in my pocket, I began to worry if my girlfriend or mother had tried to contact me on my primary line.
I also try to disconnect during the holidays, and somewhat over the weekend. But voluntarily disconnecting while still carrying my phones and tablets with me – just in case – is an entirely different story.
I can't imagine just leaving everything at home and going out for the day. I figure I, too, would feel okay for the first bit. But a few hours after leaving my devices at home, I imagine I would begin to pat my pockets every few minutes, feeling for my phones. Then I would likely have some minor panic attack before turning around and heading home.
My line of work instills a high level of dependency on being constantly connected. If I have my laptop or iPad, though, I would be less worried. My Google Voice account would notify me if anyone tried to call me, and I could stay connected without technically using a cell phone. But that's bending the rules a bit.
As sad (or bad) as it may be, I'm hopelessly attached to my phones. I probably wouldn't last too long without a cell phone or some form of connectivity to the online world. After all, it is my livelihood.
How do you think you would fare throughout an entire day without a cell phone? Would you be okay? Would you have to cling to nearby Internet cafes and public telephones? Or, like me, would you have a mild panic attack after just a few short hours?