The Five Stages of Smartphone Withdrawal

Regular readers of Gear Diary may remember I got married earlier this month. We just returned from our honeymoon, a fabulous week on beautiful San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. It’s absolutely gorgeous; white sandy beaches, sun, drinks, food…what more do you need? Well, in my case, the one thing missing from the island (and the one thing that had Sarah practically doing cartwheels of joy) was the distinct lack of internet service.

Yes, I had to go an entire week without a smartphone. Just like the five stages of grief, I went through five stages of connectivity withdrawal. It’s not pretty, but read on for the gory details of my symptoms during a week on a “desert island”.

Denial – It’s great! This will be so wonderful to disconnect for a few days. We won’t need to keep up with any news during the week. And the emails will be there when I return. In college I only checked email a few times a day. And when I was a kid there was no email. It’s totally doable. I’ll just go head to the beach and won’t notice the distinct lack of beeps and buzzes. Hey, maybe there’s signal somewhere else on the island…

Anger – Damnstupidawfulisland. What kind of place doesn’t have internet? And the resort wants me to pay $60 for slow satellite on a shared computer? Are they insane? This is highway robbery. They’re taking advantage of people who need to keep up with the real world. I think that fish just mocked me. I’ll show him … where’s the fishing boat leaving from?

Bargaining – Well maybe $5 for 60 minutes of internet for 7 days isn’t so bad. It’s enough to check in a few times, right? And if Sarah and I split it, then we each get a 1/2 hour for the week. I can survive on that. If I ration it really carefully I can peek at the internet every other day! And it’s totally fine that I can’t use my smartphone or my laptop. This lovely computer from 1997 in the business center is perfect. Really. And I take back what I said about that fish…maybe now the satellite internet won’t hiccup so much?

Depression – What’s the point? I barely have time to clear all the junk email out. And checking Gear Diary almost crashed the ancient computer. I’m never going to catch up on all this news. Why am I bothering? If a Facebook page exists but is never updated, did it ever really exist?

Acceptance – Maybe this is good for me. It’ll clear my head a bit. This is a lesson in how there are more important things than the internet. Did the bar open yet? It’s time for another piña colada …

And this was all in the first 10 minutes on the island! All silliness aside, this was an interesting accidental experiment for myself. In addition to being disconnected and free of 24/7 information streams, I realized for the first time how much having a smartphone is like an adult pacifier. I don’t stick it in my mouth, but I do use it to keep my hands busy ALL THE TIME. In the real world, if we’re standing in line to purchase something, out comes the smartphone. Sarah steps away for a minute, out comes the smartphone. I have five seconds of downtime, out comes the smartphone. It’s not about checking my email, or twitter, or the weather, it’s about having something distracting around.

Since there was no reason to carry my Droid around, I didn’t have anything to fiddle with during downtime. It meant I spent more time talking with Sarah, striking up conversations with strangers, and actually paying attention to the world around me. I don’t know that I’ll be able to maintain that level of focus now that I’m back in Verizon-drenched New Jersey, but it does mean I won’t freak if I leave my cell phone home once in a while. Apparently, there’s a whole world out there. And the best part of this past week was that for the first time in a long while I was able to really appreciate it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I think I’d rather go back…this view is far better than the one of my leaf-filled backyard.


About the Author

Carly Z
Carly has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to her first PDA (a Palm M100). She quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. She loves writing about ebooks because they combine her two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?