Living wireless: the last day in a week from hell

This is the seventh and final post in a week-long web series that documents Preethi’s day-to-day experiences while forgoing a relationship with her cellphone.

On my last day of my challenge, I learnt that birds observe us as much as we observe them. This isn’t as random as you think and has been the best part of my seven-day challenge. As I stood outside my house, waiting for a friend, I was looking around and snacked on a KitKat. I observed that a bird flew to a nearby tree, and I ate some more of my KitKat.

However, I glanced back at the bird and felt as if it had been observing me the entire time. I looked away and back at the bird — the bird looked away. Four or five times, I repeated to look away and had a gut feeling that the bird was very conscious of my activities. My point? If I had my phone, I would have noticed none of this.

I reached and activated my phone well before midnight and felt an adrenaline rush through my body as I had texts and notifications to go through. As I cleared all of them, a wave of emptiness rushed as well. I fathomed the temporary satisfaction my device gave me, and calmly put it away as I fell asleep reading a book.

I viewed the seven-day challenge as an opportunity to prove that I wasn’t addicted to my phone.

But the number of times I thought about my phone was pathetic and I stand corrected. The seven days threw at me realizations on a spectrum, and my records tell all of it. The superficiality that we embody on social media, the addictive traits of using phones, and the reasons why we keep going back for more every 10 minutes — these lessons will probably be hard to keep in mind once I go back to my routine.

The most important lesson, however, was to be aware of myself while using a phone. It isn’t true that I have no control over the “storm” within me. I’ve decided that no passivity is going to help you or me navigate the digital world. But there is a life beyond the cell phone, and we need to find a way to live that life.

If I were asked to sum up my experience of the past seven days in a sentence, I would say, “Been to hell and back, but I’ve come back even better.”

I have already admitted to missing my phone the past few days and I’ll even admit that I posted three pictures to my Instagram as soon as I had access to my phone. However, now I know that I can live without my phone, and that it’s just a habit that I never questioned. I’ve come out on the better end of this challenge because an angst has been rekindled within me — and it has everything to do with hating on the digital.

Take that selfie and post it; tweet what comes to your mind. It is only important that you aren’t doing this out of habit. You should be doing it out of choice.

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