Xavier Jared


Two brothers on personal development, philosophy, and being awesome

Give Up Your Phone


I have not carried a phone on my person for eight months, since I got rid of my iPhone. In addition to the benefits I noted at the time, I have observed a number of other wins. It has been a liberating experience.

No distractions. There is rarely a social situation where it is appropriate to not have your phone on silent. On the bus, on the plane, in the café, in the library, croquet with friends—phones off! And if it is going to be silent, why bother carrying it at all?

Croquet with friends
A phone simply would not be proper. From Heart Felt Robot.

Being on time. You show up punctually to events because you can’t message to say you are only fifteen minutes away. Better yet, other people show up on time to meet you! It’s the old chicken technique, where in two cars driving towards each other one driver blindfolds himself and rips off the steering wheel. Blunt, but it works. In the last eight months I can recall only one time where a phone would have saved an awkward half hour of waiting for someone to not show up.

Less stuff in your pocket. I forget things at the best of times, and being honest pants don’t look great with full pockets anyway. Now I am down to keys and wallet, and if I don’t need my bike lock I can stash the keys somewhere as well. That’s a 33% reduction that I’d take with pride to my performance review.

No tumours. I’m no expert on microwaves and I haven’t extensively reviewed any literature. My impression from what I have read is that a precautionary principle is prudent to adopt for mobile phone usage, especially when that usage provides little benefit. Mobile phones are a new technology, and if they did increase risk of health issues it seems plausible that those issues may not show up for decades.

Research seems mostly undecided on the issue, but with such a large economic incentive behind mobile phone usage I’m prepared to give more weight to those recommending caution. As we’ve seen in the past with cigarettes, pesticides, margarine—just to name a few obvious ones—the science can take decades to settle down not just due to the nature of the discipline, but also when it is fighting an uphill battle against profits.

More doctor's smoke camels than any other cigarette!

Redundant. If I want to catch up with someone, I want to see them in person. If that isn’t possible, Skype with video isn’t a bad second option (it’s also free!). To organise an event with multiple people, broadcast mediums like Facebook, Twitter and email are far more effective than SMS or calling everyone individually (and one again, free!). This relegates the role of a mobile phone to last minute scheduling, which is an activity I intensely dislike anyway. There is no useful function left for a mobile phone to perform.

I meet many people who cannot comprehend living without a phone. This dependence is unhealthy. If you do want to carry a phone, be sure it is on your own terms. Try going without for a few weeks and see how your life changes. I guarantee you will learn something worthwhile.

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