2010–2023 Writings
by Michelle Margaret Fajkus

seven assorted colored rotary telephones
Photo by Bruno Cantuária on Pexels.com

A month ago, on a Wednesday morning on a crowded subway train in Mexico City, a pickpocket stole my phone.

I seem to have a knack for losing phones. This stolen one was a replacement of the one I drowned in the lake when it took an unexpected swim with me… when I fell off a dock on the winter solstice of 2O17.

As we were on our way to Frida Kahlo’s blue house-turned-museum, I realized my phone was no longer in my purse. Yes, I was upset but rather briefly. I changed my account passwords and let go of the loss quickly. Soon, I began to feel as I’d felt during the weeks after my accidental dip into the lake. Without a phone, I was liberated!

Free from the urge to mindlessly check messages or scroll through social media feeds. It was no longer an option. So, instead, I pretended like it was 1993 and read actual books. Or just sat and gazed, interjecting more meditative moments into my day. Those times when you pull out your phone for no real reason? Waiting rooms, in-between idle moments of boredom, after finishing a class or ending a shift at work…  No longer could I participate in this common activity.

So, at the very end of our three-month trip to Tikal, the Yucatan, Texas, Ecuador and Colombia, my phone was robbed. The next day, we arrived back home in Guatemala. Now, my husband still has his smartphone and now we are sharing it, so I still do have access to the wonders of this technology: Spotify, Messenger, Whatsapp, etc. And a camera. Which I appreciate.

However, I also appreciate not carrying it with me 24/7. Often, I am walking around out there with NO phone, imagine. And sometimes no laptop either. I am completely unable to be reached, or to connect with anyone virtually. I am limited to actually speaking to people I encounter on the road, maybe even making eye contact. {I love how here, in rural Guatemala where I live, almost everyone greets you with a warm “hola” or “buenas tardes”.} It’s kind of amazing.

It’s really unfathomable how much our lives have been altered by smartphones. Scary, too.

Yes, there are moments when this blissful disconnection from modern technology can lead to slight inconveniences. For example, not knowing about a change of plans and going to a friend’s house only to find she is not home after all. She’d sent a message, but because I’m no longer attached to the phone, I hadn’t seen it.

Otherwise, it’s a blessing, this phone-free lifestyle. I’m going to wait at least another month before I get a new one. And when I do, I intend to use it less, to not let myself spend hours staring at the screen every day, to not check it every ten minutes, just because. This is nearly impossible though. These things are super addictive and quite handy.

I guess the only real solution is to turn it off more often. Not silenced or in “do not disturb” mode, but all the way OFF.

photo of person holding iphone
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

What do you think? Would you, could you, should you live without a phone within reach at all times?


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