I was grieving. My long term partner, my iPhone had left me unexpectedly and I didn’t know what to do. As I went through a week’s worth of mourning and feeling disconnected from the world, I tried to figure out how I was going to get my life back on track. That’s when Punkt came into my life.
Being without a smartphone made me realise how much of my day-to-day life relied on it.
Distractions on the bus? Instagram.
Directions to get across town? Citymapper.
Too drunk to sit on the bus for an hour? Uber.
Going for a run? Spotify.
What’s the weather like today? Don’t waste your time looking out the window, because you’ve got the Weather app.
Walking out the door without my smartphone made me feel vulnerable and as if I’d forgotten to put my head on my shoulders, which is messed up. This is what inspired me to give smartphones the middle finger and start properly detoxing my life of the need for constant distraction. So, while most people would embark on a Digital Detox for a period of a few days, I was testing the waters for a life without smartphones completely.
PH: Amy is our Producer and also works in the Fashion industry. We wanted to know if someone as busy as her could get around the streets of East London without a smartphone. So, we got her a Punkt phone, a disposable camera, we smashed her iPhone and sent her on a 30-day mission.
PH: Hi Amy, it’s always hard swapping phones – how did you get along with the Punkt phone in regards of manageability?
A: Well firstly, the phone only has two functions of communication – text and call. Think about your faithful Nokia 3310, and dumb it down by 10.
After years of using a phone with a touchscreen and predictive text, I have to admit I felt like Bambi trying to walk for the first time when having to type in every character individually. My texts went from essays about encounters with the crazies on the 149 bus to a simple ‘crzy guy nxt 2 me cnt tlk mite b stbd’. Aside from that, it was a piece of cake.
PH: Tell us some of the Pros and Cons.
A: Well for one, I was always on time, which is a big deal for someone who is always late. I’m the kind of friend that leaves the house 5 mins before I’ve got to be somewhere, knowing that I can just text, Facebook message or Whatsapp them to let them know I’m running late. I found it so time-consuming to text an essay excuse that I figured it was just easier to be on time.
I didn’t find there to be too many cons, which really surprised me. A lot of people might say that not having a form of social media to mindlessly flick through on the bus to and from work is a con, but I ended up embracing it. I noticed a lot of shit. People are fascinating and I truly think I learned more about humans and life than I would have scrolling through endless dog memes and friends ‘gramming their shitty avo on toast.
One true con is that having a phone with no international calling/texting capabilities meant it was very difficult to connect with my family and friends abroad. For someone that is an expat, this is definitely a deal breaker.
PH: Did you get lost?
A: Even though I like to pride myself on my sense of direction, unfortunately, yes, I did get lost. On the first day with my Punkt phone I got stuck in the middle of Tufnell-fucking-Park, after 2 bottles of wine, at 1 am on a Thursday when the tube had stopped (please see below insert of directions I wrote by hand after checking someone else’s Citymapper).
I managed to get home after 2.5hrs of walking, getting buses the wrong way, crying and cursing ‘FUCK THIS FUCKING PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT FUCK’. I suppose it was a good lesson to make sure I had my shit sorted if I was venturing anywhere further than walking distance from my house.
PH: Did you feel more connected with the universe?
A: Absolutely. No one has any idea how cluttered their minds actually are when they are constantly connected to something and everything, and I don’t use the words ‘constantly’ and ‘everything’ lightly. The first thing I used to do upon opening my eyes in the morning was checking a) Facebook, b) Instagram, c) the weather, and that was all before I got to rolling over to my boyfriend to grill him for kicking me all night.
I actually had conversations with people at the bus stop, in bars, and in coffee shops, because I had nothing else to do but to engage in actual human interaction. I found this so satisfying and grounding, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t change my overall mood. We’ve all read the articles about how addicted or reliant we are on our phones, but until you actually physically go time without it, you will never truly understand.
The first 24hrs without my iPhone consisted of complete anxiety. On my way to work on day 1, the moment I closed the front door behind me I had this overwhelming sense of panic/loss/anxiety. My pocket felt empty and I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I got on the bus and thought ‘Christ, what the fuck do I look at?!’, terrified I might make eye contact with someone.
And you know what else is fucked? It’s taken me over an hour to write this article because I’ve been picking up my phone up to check….what? Instagram, Facebook, Instagram again… The only indication I have of how much time has passed in between each pick-up is how much new material comes up on my feed.
PH: Did you actually go through the 30 days or did you cheat?
A: I’m not even ashamed to say this, but no. I sure did give it a good crack though!
PH: What was people’s reaction to your Punkt?
A: Mostly that it wasn’t a phone, they thought it was a calculator.
PH: Would you ever do it again?
A: Heck yes.
PH: Good effort Amy, cheers!
Think you can do the challenge? Get your Punkt. here