Not only did I grow up without any type of a cell phone, I actually made it through college. When I look back, I’m not quite sure how. How did we find new restaurants, get automatic directions, meet up with friends on location, stay ‘connected’ to everyone? Oh…..that’s right, we actually talked to people, we used the phone book, took verbal advice and suggestions from friends, and otherwise winged it.
My first cell phone was one of those HUGE flip phones – with the big antenna? And the ONLY thing it did was make phone calls. (for which I paid dearly – per minute). This, mind you, was after I graduated from college.
I spent the first 22+ years of my life sans a phone, and yet, when my iPhone was stolen a week ago, it required incredible effort NOT to panic. It was as though I had lost a lifeline. I was out of the country and my phone disappeared the night before I had an 8am flight home. This meant my phone remained on an island, while I flew more than two-thousand miles home.
This left me unable to call my family to tell them I was safe or that I had landed at the airport. It meant I couldn’t take pictures on a whim. It meant I had no social media contact at all. However, I want to share with you, both good and bad, what I learned from this experience.
Our attachments to our phones/devices is irrational: I am being 100% honest when I tell you that during my flight home and the ensuing two days before I was re-phoned, I LONGED for my phone. My hands felt empty. I heard rings, beeps and notifications that had me reaching in to my bag, only to remember IT WASN’T FOR ME. I would like to tell you that the reason behind this mentality is that I NEED my iPhone – it is how I work, how I stay in touch, how my life is ‘easier’, but I (and you) CAN survive without these devices. Remarkable, but true.
We are an attached and detached society: I found myself staring sadly at anyone holding a phone…that is until I realized that at least 80% of the people around me were completely unaware of the PEOPLE around THEM. There was virtually no eye contact, no smiling…quite simply, we are attached to our phones and detached from the actual world around us. Yes, it is great to be able to text my family that I’ve landed, but that sense of ease shouldn’t replace the world around me. As I traveled home – phoneless – I talked to people. Novel, yes? I’ve always been someone who smiled at everyone I passed, but this freedom meant I was more open to conversation.
Find My iPhone might be the most important app you ever have: As soon as I realized my phone was missing (I hoped it was mistakenly taken), I jumped on the Find My iPhone app and was able to see my phone’s location and that it was on. Additionally, you can send a ‘lost message’ alert to the phone (which locks it if you don’t already have that enabled), and if necessary you can remotely erase everything you have on your phone. This is crucial as you don’t want all of your personal information in the wrong hands. When I prepared to leave the country, I could see that my phone had moved and then was turned off. I won’t pretend that I didn’t refresh the locater rabidly – like a 15 year old girl waiting for a boy to call – but it wasn’t until I was home – more than eight hours later that the phone was once again turned on and moved. When I called from my husband’s number (which incidentally reads in part: ‘husband’) my calls were ignored four times, then declined and then the phone was turned off. (The photo above shows where my phone had traveled at the end of that day – the green dot indicates the phone is ‘on’ – but not for long) This was the moment when I knew my phone was gone for good – so I did erase it remotely (thank goodness!) and moved on. The Android version of this app is Find My Phone. Get this app – iPhone or Android pronto if you don’t have it already.
Backing up your phone regularly is crucial: The good news is iCloud backs up my phone automatically – WHEN the phone is locked, plugged-in and connected to wi-fi. The bad news for me is that, being out of the country, I hadn’t connected to wi-fi in eight days. So, my back up was one week shy of current. However, it was 98% perfect – retrieving all apps, contacts, text messages and pictures. A good lesson in remembering to make sure your back-up is happening regularly.
I can survive. And do it well. My productivity for those few days increased beautifully as I wasn’t using my iPhone as a crutch throughout the day. Statistics say that we check our phones upwards of 110 TIMES A DAY. Certainly, some of those moments are ‘necessary’ – checking email remotely, responding to texts, engaging in social when it applies to your job, BUT 110 times a day? I’d venture that a good portion of those are purely habit and therefore? A waste of your (and my) precious time. It was a good lesson for me to put my phone down and walk away. Work, engage, talk, laugh and just BE without a device.
Let’s be honest – nothing about this process was ‘fun’, but I do think moments like this happen to teach me a lesson – or five. One other thing I learned from my carrier, AT&T? Once your phone is reported stolen, it is registered as such and is no longer eligible for service from any carrier based on FCC regulations. Small consolation – but at least SOME GOOD NEWS. Whoever decided to take my iPhone won’t be able to access my information (I wiped it remotely) AND it is useless for service.
Have you ever experienced something like this? If so, how did you handle it?