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How I Gained a Renewed Appreciation for My Smartphone

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June 19, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, the unthinkable happened to me. I was making a quick errand run before work and as I went to get out of my car, my phone fell to its death. OK, so it’s not that unthinkable—phones break all the time, right? Well, this has NEVER happened to me—I’ve always been the responsible phone owner, updating every two years at most. But, at the risk of sounding completely dramatic, I did not handle it too well.

Making things worse, was the fact that it wasn’t completely broken—just the screen. It went completely black, yet continued to buzz as my unknowing friends and family called and texted—messages that have now been lost forever in cyberspace (warned you it might get dramatic). Anyway, faced with the reality I had exactly five minutes to get to work, I could not deal with this tragedy now—it had to wait.

For those of you already laughing at my lamentation—I’d like you to stop for a second and ask yourself when you last went without your phone for longer than a few minutes. My guess is you can count these instances on one hand. Recent studies show that 80% of humans own a mobile phone (1.08 billion of those being smartphones) and of these people, 89% use it consistently throughout their day. So, obviously I’m not alone in my addiction, but then again I didn’t need a study to tell me that. Walk into any coffee shop, bookstore, or breakroom and you will likely find hoards of people busily texting, tweeting and more.

College students are especially guilty of excessive use, with 75% of them admit to never letting it leave their side. If someone’s lost, what do they do? Pull out their phone and Google directions. Need to get up early for a meeting? Just set your phone alarm. These were the luxuries I instantly thought of when I saw my black screen of death. But, no big deal right? I’d just go to the nearest store for my cell phone provider, explain the situation and get a new one thanks to insurance right? WRONG. Being a Friday (great timing I know), the earliest my phone could get in was Monday—WHICH WAS THREE DAYS AWAY.

So, I managed to rough it through the weekend, using archaic devices such as digital alarm clocks and PRINTED driving directions, but by Monday I was ready to reacquaint myself with the modern world. Only, everything that could go wrong did and my phone wouldn’t be in until…Wednesday. Discouraged by this news, I accepted my fate and trudged along for another two phoneless days. I was actually getting quite good at finding phone alternatives, but to say I was really starting to miss the instant gratification my phone provided would be an immense understatement. I envied people around me who were happily texting, chatting, facebooking all in the palm of their hand. I relied on my social networking accounts to keep people posted on my phone status—it was just such a new concept. I hadn’t been without a phone this long since middle school—when my mom got me my first one.

Surviving those five days without a phone made me realize just how reliant I have become on this little gadget. It keeps me on schedule, reminds me of important things and ultimately keeps me constantly connected to the world and people around me. I gained a renewed appreciation for it and realized just how much I had been taking it for granted. So, the next time you reach for your phone (which is probably sometime in the near future) give it a well-deserved pat on the back for always being there for you, because you’ll never know what you have until it’s gone.

How long do you think you could manage without your phone? I was hanging on by a thread after five days….think you can last longer? What would you miss most?

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