WHAT DID I USE MY PHONE FOR?
Time: Half-hourly to hourly intervals.
Where: Everywhere, when meeting other people.
I text my friends on a regular interval of about half an hour or so. My team for a group project set up a meeting place for group work at Bugis Starbucks. That day, we changed the meeting place (Shaw Towers) at the last minute, and we moved to a different place, informing team members through WhatsApp. I realized this is what most meetings like nowadays; we set up a generic area (Bugis), and a rough estimate of where exactly we should meet (Starbucks), as well as timing (+-13:00). When the venue changed, one member found her way through Google Maps since she did not know where the place was. Another member had to be picked up from the MRT as she easily gets lost. A member texted her to know where she is, so she could bring her to the new meeting venue. Thus, despite wayfinding phone apps, human interaction still played a part.
When it was nearing the meeting time, we would start texting and if some people are running late, the people who planned to come earlier will slow down and relax since the other team members are not there yet. However, if others already arrived, the late person would speed up and try to rush. These behaviors reduced waiting time full of uncertainty for those who came earlier.
Without instant messaging, we would have to set up an exact time (13:00) and place to meet (Bugis Starbucks), with no changing of venues until all members are present.
Listening to music
Time: All the time, if possible.
Where: Public transport, bedroom.
I listened to music constantly through an earpiece. Whether I was doing chores or on the public transport, listened to music. When I was alone in my room, I also blasted music through my laptop speakers. When doing schoolwork on my laptop, I listened to Spotify and observe other people doing the same at Starbucks.
Googling the most random information
Time: Exclusively when needed.
I was researching on hair colors and bleaching processes as I was going to dye my hair the next day. This information, I hoped, would help me in making a decision. It was so easy to obtain such helpful information especially as a layman in the area. I did not need to look through countless other information in books and magazines – simply type in my specific question and bloggers, online magazines, and beauty gurus’ knowledge were at the tip of my fingers.
Time: Every 3 hours or so, during free time/break time.
Where: Bedroom, public transport.
Instagram takes about 3-4 hours a day, with Facebook coming in second at less than 1 or half an hour. I also observe this of other people who are on their phones. It was
Looking up bus timings
Time: Leaving my room, at the bus stop.
I used gothere.sg, NTU Bus Routes, and iris NextBus to look up when the bus is coming. Although I was already at the bus stop and I just needed to wait, it seems like I was more at ease when I knew exactly how many minutes it is coming.
WHAT DID I USE MY LAPTOP FOR?
Time: Afternoon to night
Where: Bedroom, school, and team meeting.
I did my Visual Communication II and Typography II homework through Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop and Illustrator). I used a scanner in conjunction to this to convert my handwriting to digital format, especially for Typography II. I also used Google Slides and Google Docs for teamwork, during my team meeting at Starbucks. It was especially convenient as Starbucks also provide free Wi-fi, which facilitates laptop and smartphone users.
Social Media and Instant Messaging
Time: Afternoon and night, for 1-2 hours.
Where: Bedroom, school, and team meeting.
I used my laptop for Facebook as well as WhatsApp Web. I check Facebook occasionally, as some of my classes (Contemporary Cultural and Creative Industry in Singapore, Design Thinking) uses Facebook as a platform to update students. For instant messaging, typing on my laptop is faster than on my phone. Moreover, sometimes I need to work on projects and chat with teammates at the same time – thus, WhatsApp Web is especially useful for this. During my team meeting, I also occasionally hear a soft “pop” from my friends’ laptops, indicating that they also use this platform.
Watching YouTube videos or movies.
Time: During breaks, mostly at night and late afternoon.
Where: Bedroom, school.
I was keeping up with the Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events, and thus I watched one episode with my friend that day. I also randomly watched entertaining YouTube videos from CollegeHumor and John Oliver. My friends also regularly shows me entertaining Youtube videos and introduces me to new TV shows. I realize that although I do not have a TV, I was not deprived of entertainment at all.
I had type consultation today. I needed to show Prof Angeline the progress I have made so far, so I needed to show her a printed version. Luckily, my take for the assignment was rather hands-on, so I could show her some of the tangible instead of the digital development.
I met up with me friend for lunch with the time and place set up the day before. I was going to hang out with my friend for the whole day. Also, the only way to tell the time was through the watch my friend lent me; I did not have a watch or any clock except in my phone. My watch had long since ran out of battery and I did not bother to change it.
I was halfway through lunch when my friend and I were contemplating going out of NTU. I wanted to check my phone to look up when the bus is arriving, and my hand flew to my wallet on which I usually put my phone when I am eating, but obviously it was not there and I looked so visibly upset my friend laughed at me. I also wanted to show my friend a funny YouTube video I found the other day, only to realize the same problem. We ended up not going out, and as an alternative, I told my friend the plot of the video skit instead of showing him– I resorted to verbal communication.
I wanted to listen to my music so badly. I could not believe how empty it felt. I also needed to check my messages t see if I have anything urgent. I realised that I constantly thought that I would have someone urgently looking for me or messaging me. I handed my phone to my friend and asked that if any messages that look extremely urgent came up, please tell me. This might defeat the purpose of the exercise, but I still believe that I needed to be in touch just in case something extremely urgent happens. However, I also realised that this means that should both of my phone and laptop go missing, there would be no way of contacting me.
By this point, I have also cleaned my room, read a magazine, and the Life! Section of Straits Times. I have also grown increasingly bored and do not feel like doing assignments at all, instead choosing to read ‘Arabian Nights’ book I have lying around. I guess even without the internet providing distractions, I managed to find other distractions and procrastination material.
I was also reading “Arabian Nights” book when the term “Mamelukes” came up, meaning white slaves. I was curious as to what this meant, and I wanted to look it up. I realized I couldn’t, and it felt like an itch I couldn’t scratch. Googling the most obscure facts had become a habit for me, with information at the tips of my fingers. I have gotten used to researching the minutest things such as whether washing my hair with this shampoo I have will strip my hair of the recent dyes, and whether bleached hair is supposed to be given hair oil. As for my behaviour regarding this, I guess I was resigned and concluded that there are things I don’t need to know, and rely more on common sense (all shampoos strip dyes- use sparingly, and bleached damaged hair is likely to appreciate some hair oil).
Not listening to music has been a great drawback to this no-tech ban. I have now resorted to singing my heart out in my bedroom.
One surprising thing I learned about this is that I don’t actually miss social media that much. I feel that this is a positive outcome, as I was worried I was too dependent on it- turns out, I depend on music to add color to my days more.
These are the functions I miss most:
- Listening to music
- Instant messaging
- Time checking
- Availability of knowledge
- Adobe/other computer programs.
I also realized how most of my archives are digital ones as compared to hard copies. I don’t print my notes anymore- I only use Adobe Acrobat to highlight and annotate.
All in all, I was surprised by some things and felt that I could never do without my mobile devices. Honestly speaking, I would never do it again unless circumstances force me to, but for those looking for some new insights as to what they do with their time on their mobile devices, I would recommend this exercise.
Christy I’m glad to hear that the exercise allowed you to notice what it is that is most valuable aspect of your devices – music – and that you improvised a work around – singing! Also surprising discovery for yourself that social media was not the thing that you missed most. The anxiety that most people feel when they are deprived of their devices is the most common reaction. But then what’s more interesting is seeing how each person adapts differently and then invents ways to do things without technology. We all notice different things about ourselves in the process but also notice others and appreciate the environment around us, hopefully, a bit better.