What I Learned in My Week Without a Smartphone — The Fairer Sex Files
There are times in my life (for instance, when in the presence of Andrew W.K.) where I am unspeakably grateful to have a tool in my pocket to document my increasingly-ridiculous life. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself phone-less in the Big Apple for almost an entire week. Things got really weird.
My iPhone was stolen; let's not get into it, it is the kind of story that makes you feel bad about humanity and where we're headed, and that's a hell of a topic for a rainy Wednesday. What matters is that I had to wait for my free replacement phone to be sent in the mail, which means that I spent a week navigating my life in Manhattan without any means of communication, and no way to play Draw Something:
I know, I know, #whitepeopleproblems; but I am also terrible at directions and extremely impulsive, so not having Google Maps and text messaging made me pretty inefficient. It was a great excuse for being late/not showing up to things, though, and I was definitely more present with the people I was with. However, I didn't get this AMAZINGLY RIDICULOUS news for hours, because I was out:
Text messaging is also a way for friends to encourage each other, and I missed having interactions like these, during my day:
Since I live in Brooklyn, I don't own a car and instead use the subway or my feet to get me where I am going. My commute to work requires that I take two trains, and it takes just about an hour. I love it because it is the calmest part of my day in NY; no matter how fast I am stumble-running to the station in the morning, sloshing scalding coffee all over my hands with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth and burning my hair while I curse, once I am on the train there is absolutely nothing I can do to get to my destination faster. Seriously, I've tried:
There's something calming about sitting on a train that is carrying you to work, and it has a lot to do with my phone. Not only is it my access to music and an entertainment tool, but it's also a protective barrier against the abundant crazies on the MTA system. Wearing headphones allows you to pretend that you can't hear the woman across from you, when she screams "I am SO SICK of watching you do that," as you politely apply lipstick and BOTHER NO ONE.
Without a phone, I was much more succeptible to those interactions. Don't get me wrong, I also noticed a lot more awesome things. Sitting with my sketchbook open one morning, I was thinking about that very thing when a homeless man muttered, "Sleep is the cousin of death," and that ruled. However, I also came into contact with two of the craziest people I have ever seen on the MTA, over the course of one hour.
The first was a man on the bus who was having a full-blown conversation with someone imaginary (i didnt look up, so i dont know if he was talking about me) but he said: "I don't know dawg, I'm just sayin: girl looks GOOD and I don't LIKE IT." What could that possibly mean, and what did he plan to do about it? We got off at the same stop and i ran into the subway entrance to lose him. Sometimes being a woman in New York is like walking alone in the woods, except the woods are probably safer.
Once inside the subway for the second leg of my journey, I was leaning against a pole waiting for the G train and out of the corner of my eye (I don't make eye contact, ever, unless they are hot) I spotted a man who resembled a meth-ravaged Stephen Dorff circling closer to me, laughing and dancing. He was not listening to music. He entered my 5-foot unspoken circle of personal space that surrounds all New Yorkers, and said "Well? How are YOU?"
Though it's best to not engage, I have this problem where I laugh at funny things; I think they call it "being awesome?" His tone was so funny, as if he were passively addressing my rudeness. So I laughed, and he said "If you think THAT's funny, I'm WAY funnier than that, you'll see." I navigated as far as possible from toothless Stephen Dorff, and anxiously awaited my train.
I learned a lot in my week without a phone, and I've definitely changed the way I use my new one, as a result. I've been trying to remember to use my phone as a tool, and not a cure for boredom. When I'm not using it, I put it away. When I'm not available, I turn it off. It seems pretty simple, but I think we've all been a bit bombarded by the seemingly limitless power of the phone in our pocket, and perhaps been a bit too quick to abandon other options. I'm not saying I want to carry around a giant map of New York -- that's just stupid -- but I did do this during that week, documented by my boss...with his smartphone:
My new social rule goes like this: If I need to take out my phone to do something while I am with people, I announce it; it's actually pretty rude and lame to be casually texting while hanging out with your friends, turns out. I always knew that, but I really felt it during the week where I was the only one who couldn't do it. When we're all together, we sometimes stack our phones in the middle of the table -- first person to reach for theirs pays the bill. It's very effective.
I'm glad I had a phone by Valentines Day, though, or I would have missed out on this:
While I don't recommend getting your phone stolen, I am a big fan of experiments. Why not pretend for a day, and see what it's like? You'll probably be embarrassed by what you discover, but it's okay. We're all friends here.
Jackie Mancini is the associate editor of GuySpeed and an unabashed lover of large breasts, porno, foul mouths and loud music. Her childhood diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is most likely responsible for her current position as the only female employee of a men’s website. Her column ‘The [Fairer Se]X Files’ appears every Wednesday. You can read more of her work here, and you can also follow her on Twitter.