I Was Happy, Sad, Lost and Lonely Without a Smartphone at the Same Time

I haven’t posted on my blog for a long time, partly because I have been super busy with my personal and work life. I moved to Switzerland to work as a health informatics specialist for the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and moving to Switzerland in a very short period has been a change that took some time for me to get used to. There were cultural, administrative, and legal things I had not been used to while in Sri Lanka. I have yet to move to my apartment and live in a studio apartment at the time of writing this. It’s good that I moved to central Europe during the summer and excited to experience my first winter. Now back to what I wanted to tell you about.

Last weekend, I had a nasty fall on my iPhone 11, even though I had a back cover and tempered glass. It only had a minor crack in the tempered glass, the display was intact, and I did not notice anything. However, the next day morning, I noticed some dead pixels on the display, and slowly it progressed taking over the display, and within a week my whole iPhone display was not working.

So I had to live last weekend, without a smartphone, the only access that I had to the outside world and my relatives and friends was WhatsApp running on my laptop. During the time that I lived without a smartphone, I experienced happiness, sadness, sense of loss at the same time, and made me realize that even though as much as I would love to live without a smartphone, unfortunately, we will never be able to escape from using a smartphone.

The happiness (bliss)

In a way, I felt really happy, that I didn’t have to hear the sound of notifications and check my phone to see if there were any notifications. Even though you can still disable the notification sounds or notifications in general, there is always this feeling at the back of your mind that you will have to check your phone to see if a colleague has put some message on the company Zoom chat. Also, I didn’t have to worry about carrying and worry about an expensive device being in my pocket.

I did not have to answer any calls, I had a piece of mind too, which I felt something that I never had for a very long time. The only connection that I had with the outside world was when I was with my laptop, which is something that you don’t check like your phone.

The desperation

This is something that I struggled with without a smartphone. I was unable to make any online transactions or pay any bills online without my smartphone. As I had to accept a notification from by banking app on my phone when I had to make a payment online.

This is something that I was unable to do without a smartphone and I had to either to the bank and make the payment, or if I was shopping I had to use my debit card to make the payment. So online payments are something that I wish I had a way to do without a smartphone.

The loss

Since I am currently living in a new city, I am still learning my way around and there are places and roads that I don’t know when trying to reach a place. And since I don’t have a smartphone with me, I feel how dependent I am on Google and Apple Maps to get through the city, and I can’t imagine living without them to find directions.

Whenever I approached a stranger to ask for directions, they also looked as if I was someone from the nineteenth century when I said I didn’t have a smartphone to check the directions, and some looked like I was someone who was going to grab their smartphone and run. But few were kind to show me the directions.

Living in a new city by yourself as a foreigner, and having to ask for directions from strangers is not easy.

Can I escape from using a smartphone? I highly doubt it. Just like fire, and wheel, society is now wired to live with smartphones unless something replaces it, let it be VR, spatial computing or something completely different. But even though I would like to go back to a time when I lived without a smartphone when life was much simpler, I have to accept the reality that I can’t.