Off The Grid, Out Of My Mind: How I (Barely) Survived 20 Hours Without My iPhone

¡Viva el iPhone!

¡Viva el iPhone!

8:43 p.m.: Meltdown.

I’ve forever wished that I could be one of those easy-breezy individuals who live off the grid and escape into their solar-powered tiny house. You know — the kind that regularly downgrades to a circa-2002 flip phone as a means of getting “back to basics” or “free from the noise of society.”

I am decidedly not one of those people. To be gridless is as scary as the idea of being in a red ant farm completely naked and slathered with Nutella.

Last week, my grid was swept away: My iPhone went berserk and crapped out on me entirely.

What followed can best be described as a tsunami of anxiety. Sure, a tech detox seems great to me, theoretically — but only if it's on my own terms. This was 100% involuntary. Clearly, I am not ready to enter that kind of tech-free zen. Namaste, overwhelming sense of fear.

As I am a social media manager and blogger, I was already well aware of my dependence.

This is a glimpse into my phone-free 24 hours: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

8:42 p.m.

My phone dies and I immediately realize the Apple Store is closing in 18 minutes and I’ll be phone-free until the next evening after work.

8:43 p.m.


8:54 p.m.

Pull it together. I stop staring at the black screen and realize that I’m crying and shaking my phone like a near-empty bottle of shampoo.

9:00 p.m.

I get out my laptop so I can whine on Facebook about what can only be described as the epitome of #FirstWorldProblems.

9:07 p.m.

I make an appointment at the Apple Store even though the first available is not for 20 hours.

10:32 p.m.

I begin having an anxiety attack upon realizing that I’ll have to sleep without my phone's alarm clock. I procure my actual alarm clock, which is covered in many years of dust.

10:45 p.m.

I come to the realization that I’ll have to be lulled to sleep without a white noise app or the Pandora Sleep station. I wonder how the Amish hang in there and question the mental health of the experts that recommend no screen time before bedtime.

11:03 p.m.

I lie in complete silence, wondering if anyone is responding to my most recent Facebook post.

I reach under the pillow for a phantom phone that isn’t there.

7:30 a.m.

I wake up to very unfamiliar alarm that makes me think I'm getting raided by the feds.

8:14 a.m. (I’m guessing)

I remind myself mentally that I either need to adjust the clock in my car so that it's no longer completely incorrect or else take to wearing a watch. I would jot this reminder in Notepad but ya know... So I jot it in an actual notepad.

8:15 a.m. (…or something like that)

I think about the cute Winnie the Pooh watch I wore ironically in 8th grade and wonder if it's worth any money now.

I then get frustrated because there's no eBay app handy to check.

8:16 a.m. (I think)

I'm irritated because I was nearly done with Rob Lowe’s biographical audio book and I’m dying to know what happened with him and Princess Stephanie.

8:21 a.m. (maybe?)

Humming along to radio, I realize I have no idea what songs are on the radio these days because, well… podcasts exist.

8:25ish a.m.

When did Justin Bieber get so good again?

8:30 a.m.

I arrive at a work event and am glad to be in front of a laptop and clock again — for the next few hours, at least.

1:30 p.m.

Leaving work, I realize that without a watch or functioning clock, I won’t know when it’s time for my Apple Store appointment.

1:32 p.m.

I wonder if I can guesstimate the time via the sun’s position before realizing I’m not a cave man or an earth-science enthusiast. Oh well.

2:05 p.m.

I stop by home to check the time and use the landline.

2:06 p.m.

I thank every star that I listened to my inner old lady and got a landline. I'd call my boyfriend, but I don't know his number by heart (like I probably should after four years).

2:07 p.m.

...I’m a shitty girlfriend.

2:30ish p.m.

After tracking down a clock at the mall, I realize I’m really early.

2:36 p.m.

Time to ramble around Sephora. I ogle an Urban Decay lipstick, but I want to read reviews or text a picture to a friend for consult.

2:47 p.m.

I spend $24 on lip product sans feedback. I instantly feel equal parts remorse and freedom.

3:00 p.m.

I arrive at the Apple Store reeking of desperation and an ill-advised combo of Marc Jacobs perfumes that I spritzed on while debating lipstick purchases.

3:32 p.m.

I resign myself to the fact that my iPhone 5 is gone forever.

3:41 p.m.

I feel so mentally and emotionally spent that I will agree to anything to get a new phone in my grubby paws in the next half-hour, because I fear an embarrassing hissy fit is bubbling below the surface and its magnitude would go viral.

4:04 p.m.

I spend way too much on my new phone, but I'm elated that I can now listen to the "How Did This Get Made?" podcast about Teen Witch on the drive home. Top That!

6:00 p.m.

I take pride in my survival in such harsh conditions and realize that I love the grid. I need the grid.

The idea of Big Brother watching over me at all times is an OK trade-off for personal sanity and the ability to play Candy Crush on a whim.

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