Phone free is the way to beSAM COOK: I miss Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Van Morrison. I miss the sound of a mallard quacking, telling me I’m getting a call from a friend. Yep. I’m operating untethered this week.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
I miss Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Van Morrison. I miss Elton John, Ingrid Michaelson and Trampled by Turtles.
I miss quick missives from my kids, even if they’re just texts with pictures of cats.
I miss the sound of a mallard quacking, telling me I’m getting a call from a friend.
Yep. I’m operating untethered this week. I’m iPhone free. Every time I get up to go someplace, I tap my pocket to make sure it’s there. And it isn’t.
I miss that little sucker. I feel oddly incomplete, a little naked, as if I’ve lost my wallet or my car keys.
Counting the four days that two of us spent in the woods last week, I suppose I’ve been iDeprived for more than a week. But I never miss my smart phone in the woods. I’m supposed to be cut loose out there. The loons and the moonlight and the fires, along with the company of friends, always seems plenty in the woods. It was only back in civilization that I began to feel something was amiss.
The problem arose when we couldn’t find the keys to the truck for the return trip home from the woods. We managed to hitch a ride back to Duluth with friends, but my buddy’s truck — and my phone — are still waiting at the edge of the wilderness. He’ll reclaim them this weekend.
Look, I understand there are real problems in this world, and my going phone-free isn’t one of them. But it’s been an interesting experiment.
I’ll admit I miss that handful of technology. I miss my playlist on long walks with the dog, or on road trips. Zipping up U.S. Highway 2 for Grand Rapids, watching the world burst forth in spring green, I could have used a little “Tangled Up in Blue” from the Hibbing homeboy.
I miss my mapping function and going Google to answer pressing questions: Hey, what was that bird call? I miss reading the New York Times on my lunch break. I miss checking e-mail on the move.
My editor expressed concern this week when I was heading out on the road without a phone. What if something newsy happened near my destination and she needed to get hold of me?
What smart phones have largely eliminated from our lives is waiting.
Find out where Tanzania is in Africa. Now.
Get a photo of a big fish sent to me. Now.
Check Facebook, get the Twins score, figure out what we’re having for dinner. Now.
Waiting, bad. Immediate gratification, good.
So, I’ve wondered, in this week without the wizard, what smart phones are doing to us. And to me. Are we shrinking our attention spans? Are we unwilling to wait? Can we not endure a moment of down time without screen time?
Are we forgetting to just look around? To remain present in our conversations? To actually have conversations? To do something, or nothing, for up to 10 minutes at a time, let alone 30? To just sit and think?
I’ll be glad to see my phone again on Sunday. It’s a very cool tool.
But somehow, life has been entirely worth living without it this week.
Sam Cook is a News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ samcookoutdoors or on Facebook at “Sam Cook Outdoors.”