True Life: One *Allure* Editor’s Forced Digital Detox – Allure Magazine
You know that saying, âYou donât know what you got till itâs gone?â Well, Joni Mitchell and Janet Jackson weren’t lying. Recently my smartphone died, kick-starting a forced digital detox, a veritable millennial nightmare. But before I get into the nitty-gritty of what itâs like to be socially disconnected from the world, Iâll give you the backstory. Back in July, I made the grave mistake of tossing my phone on the couch without a case. It bounced off, landed on the floor, and ended up with a major crack on the upper right side. I’d hoped the phone would survive this one last snafu long enough for my iPhone 7 Plus, which had been backordered, to arrive. I was overly optimistic. A few weeks laterâsmack in the middle of fashion week, no lessâmy longtime friend finally gave out.
It didnât blink or vibrate, Siri no longer spoke, and the screen was black. The helpful folks at Apple did everything they could to resuscitate it, but my trusty iPhone was pronounced totally dead (not just the battery but the whole phone was inoperable). I panicked: “Itâs fashion week! I need to check my emails! How am I going to know whatâs going on in the worldâmore importantly the beauty world? And…OMG no Instagram?!”
went sprinted to an AT&T store to assess my options. Since I’d already ordered the 7 Plus, there was no point in spending tons of money on a replacement phone for only a couple of weeks. I bought the cheapest, most basic phone (with the most basic plan that includes only talk and text) for $50. It looks like a BlackBerry (remember those?) or a burner on The Wire. This square little device with no touch screen, no Internet connection, no apps, and no selfie camera would have to get me through the next 14-ish days. Here is my story of how I’ve survived:
After turning on my new âdevice,â I realized there was no contact list (obviously), and I couldn’t use my old SIM card to restore it. (The old SIM card was too small for the temporary phone, and transferring my contact list to a larger SIM card was just too much of a hassle.) I realized I didnât even know my mother’s cell phone number. Luckily, she still has a landline (LOL), the same number we’ve had since I was five and, not coincidentally, the only phone number I know by heart. I called her and complained about my plight.
A few other inconveniences: Although I was done covering fashion week, I did lose a recorded interview with a makeup artist. Also, when visiting my best friend in New Jerseyâa place I’ve been at least 20 timesâI had to find my way without Uber or Google Maps. When I got slightly lost, I had to make human contact with strangers (cue dramatic sound effect). But here’s the thing: While searching for someone who looked like she knew her way around New Jersey Transit, I quickly realized everyone was staring down into their phones. I ended up asking a bus driver, who turned out to be really nice and helpful. As soon as I made it to my destination, I realized this was real life: I couldnât check my email, I couldnât play around with the new Snapchat filters, and I didnât know what was trending online. So I took out my laptop and felt a sense of internal peace as I scrolled through Facebook. “You know what? This could actually be good for you,” my best friend commented. “Take a little break from the world of social media throughout the day.” Disconnect from the world? Never. But, hey, she might have had a point.
When I left my friend’s house, I left prepared. She wrote down her address plus directions in case I got lost. I didn’t, and once I was safely settled on NJ Transit bus 119, I took out my little device to see what it could do. I clicked on the camera, and as the blurry screen sputtered to life, I had an actual LOL. A photo taken in clear daylight looked like a night-vision SWAT photo from someone in deep ops. Next I tried to send a text, which shouldn’t have been too bad since the keypad did have actual letter buttons, meaning I didnât have to sequentially tap numbers corresponding to letters, T9 style. But even the letters made a simple textâ”I made it onto the bus”âtake so much longer than it should have. I bagged the text, only to find there wasnât even a simple solitaire game.
But here’s the thing. As the day went on, I got used to not being so instantly connected to the world. I didnât waste time looking at my phone whenever I felt it vibrate. I didnât feel the need to Snapchat any pretty products that came by my desk (well, I couldnât). In fact, I think this whole phone ordeal actually couldn’t have come at a better time. I was able to go home and have face-to-face conversations with people without constantly looking down. Which is exactly what I should be doing every day when I get home from work. That is: unplugging and giving my genuine time and attention to the people I love. Also important to note: I slept like a baby because I wasn’t checking my phone every time I stirred in the night.
TGIF! I made it all the way to Friday without losing all my friends, my job, or my mind over not having my iPhone. And yes, my bestie was right: I did need this. Butâand this is exactly how things goâright when I was finding my Zen with not having my iPhone, I got the email that my new one had shipped. Even so, my mini digital detox was a true reality check. My job requires me to be pretty connected: to streams on Facebook Live, swatches on Instagram, tutorials on YouTube, the list goes on. But my personal life is a different story. I never want to lose the ability to maintain and foster real relationships with real people. That wake-up call, however fleeting, felt really important. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to check my Snapchat.
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