Ayesh Karunaratne: Full-time traveler, freelance software architect and security researcher
Thu, 2015-11-26 19:23
If you know me closely, chances are, you can recall I'm not answering most of your phone calls and yet I have a mobile phone with me all the time. For those who did not know that, well, you do now.
I bought my first iPhone back in 2008, and abandoning my feature phone that I used since 2006. Since then, I shelled out my money to buy Apple iPhones and some Samsung devices. It never occurred to me how addicted I was to them, using it for everything from waking up to the alarm and tracking my sleep with a phone juicing up beside my bed, getting ready for the next day. I'm not telling you to abandon your phone smart phone just because you are addicted to it. Anyone can figure out when you are addicted to something.
The last iPhone I used was my travel companion. I was on a long trip to Europe, and a very long trip to India. It never failed me with all the assistance during the trip, and it saw much worse days with from snow to 50 Celsius temperature. It survived all the types of smoke that would put me in jail if I were in my home country. It survived drops from my bed and the Mumbai Local. Even its last day went well on my mom'd birthday that we took her on a small trip. At the end, however, I accidentally put my phone in the washer along with my trousers and was there for 15 minutes in a strong wash :( Serves me right for not answering those phone calls :)
That was just my vote of thanks to my travel companion. Here is one of the best photos I took from it:
"Things are about to get worse", I thought that day. "I'm going to miss my calls, and nobody would be able to contact me easily"; or so I thought.
Here I am, after 20 days without a phone, and I'm even happy to write a post about it. I have been using a smart phone for over 8 years continuously, and this is the first time I spent this long without one. I never believed this but I'm fine with it now.
I learned a few things, that I never would have thought about, thank to my last phone. Now, to be fair, I have a laptop and a decent dSLR for my work and photography; I wasn't completely isolated. I also had almost everything including photos, contacts, notes and phone settings backed up to iCloud. I wasn't losing any important data either.
Phone calls are not that important
If it's an important matter, people always find a way to contact you. If they don't bother trying to contact you, it's not that important anyway.
I may have missed some events. I don't really care. My clients can email me or Skype me. Friends did send messages via Facebook. I don't really share my phone number with the majority of people I know, so it wasn't a big deal living without any phone calls.
You need a backup plan for those Two-Factor-Authentication sites
I have enabled Two-Factor-Authentication for most of my accounts due to the nature of the data they store. For those who don't know what 2FA is, it's that feature you have to enter a 6 or 8 digit number in order to access an online account, eve after typing your password.
I have an administrator account on drupal.org, who are encouraged to have 2FA enabled. Facebook, Gmail, Digital Ocean (A server space provider), Github (A code hosting and collaboration platform), and many other sites have 2FA, and I of course had them enabled. These 2FA codes can be generated from a mobile phone app (I used Google Authenticator). Some online services are generous to send you an SMS if you don't have your phone. But the others can practically lock you out of the account if you don't have your phone.
Those sites can also give you a list of 2FA codes that you can use in case of such emergency. I didn't bother to write them down in some sites. Fortunately though, I did have a few of them so the life is normal now. The lesson learned is that one should always always have a backup plan before you lock yourself out.
You waste a lot of time on the phone
Don't get me wrong that I'm against playing any games or spending time on social networks. In fact, I can recall most of the combo, special and X-Ray attacks of characters in Mortal Kombat, my favorite fighting game. Without knowing it, I now realize I have been spending a lot of time on my phone for absolutely nothing. I still get the same amount of emails/messages from my clients and friends. I'm not missing out any important news. But I could find enough time to write a few pages of a book, hang out with friends, and try out some new cuisine (note to self: Persian cuisine is not that great).
If you are a freelancer, you can let your clients know when you usually work. I used to get emails from my clients around the clock. I don't think any of them noticed I now take some time to answer them. Even if they did, the fact that I'm now more focused should cut it very well.
Your phone is evil to your sleep
I used to play some games and check Facebook right before the sleep. Even with some software tweaks such as F.lux, your phone can ruin your sleep. Take my word and try not to use your laptop or phone before the sleep. I now have a small phone that costed me about $15 (it only has a flash light and voice calls). I use it for may be a few minutes a day now, and thank myself all the time for the improvements in my own sleep.
Despite all those things, you still need a smart phone these days
I miss my phone. I really do. I ordered a new phone in these Black Friday days. It will take about a couple weeks to arrive. But I'm pretty sure I can survive until then. Even after that, I would be using it a lot less than I used to, because I know it's so much better the less you use one.