Life in the phone-fast lane

The seven-day diary of a phone-free teen

Junior Carolyn Lane struggles to stay off social media. Lane referred to her phone-free week as her hell week.

The challenge:

Surviving a week using my phone only when absolutely necessary.

The exceptions:

Rule 1: I can receive calls from my parents and my math tutor.

Rule 2: I can read soccer GroupMe messages.

Rule 3: I can plan my mom’s birthday present.

Rule 4: I can use for an alarm clock while at mom’s house.

Rule 5: I can use my Spanish Twitter account for school.

The reason:

I am 100 percent insane.

Tuneless Tuesday

My first phone-free day started early, specifically 5:10 a.m. When my alarm first started ringing, my half-asleep body acted on instinct, reaching for the phone sitting on my bedside table and trying to turn off my alarm. It wasn’t until that failed to work that I realized I had just started my own personal hell week, and I slammed the snooze button on my iHome instead.

School itself was surprisingly easier than the radio commercial-filled ride I encountered on the way there. With back-to-back AP and honors classes plus advisory, I didn’t have time to miss my phone. The first real issue arose at 4:17 p.m. when I boarded the bus for the varsity soccer game against Fayette Academy. For the past three years, my pre-game soccer ritual has centered around a 45-minute Spotify playlist featuring “Jungle” by X Ambassadors, “Temperature” by Sean Paul and 13 other songs. But that day, I spent the whole ride looking out the window and doing my religion homework. Learning about idol worship definitely wasn’t as fun as worshipping my phone.

(Egg)rolling through Wednesday

After school, I drove to Arlington High School for the junior varsity girls’ soccer game, then all the way back home to go to my math tutor. Since I am my tutor’s last student on Wednesdays, I always pick up egg rolls from Green China before going to her house. Stopping for egg rolls this time, though, meant ordering in the restaurant and waiting 10 minutes for the food to be ready. I spent this time awkwardly walking around the tiny café, looking at random business cards. At least I know (insert name) is available to help (insert job).

Thursday: Like a wrecking ball

The “no social media” rule hit me like a wrecking ball on Thursday evening. Before my soccer game that evening, I spent all my time math tutoring or rushing to get ready, which left me with no time to take a break before nine o’clock. After arriving home, my brain was in desperate need of a break from schoolwork and sports. It felt like I had just finished a 12-hour school day. This time, though, I couldn’t check social media until I was ready to start homework, and I was far too afraid to enter the marathon-waiting-to-happen website known as Netflix. So, I tried to start homework instead and ended the night with assignments obviously completed but with no effort or solid analysis. Note to self: mental breaks definitely don’t equal homework.

Friday: Girl lost in Eads

Being phone-free does not go well with driving in Eads. After dinner following the Briarcrest football game, my friend, Emily O’Connell, asked me to drive her home. Since I was one of the few people with a car, I said ‘yes’ without remembering where she lived: Eads. With its curvy, dark roads, driving there was out of my element, especially because I don’t have a GPS. After overshooting her street because even she couldn’t recognize it, I knew driving home was going to be a blast. So, I dropped her off and started to retrace my steps, but instead of taking a right when I was supposed to, I took a left. After driving for five minutes or so, I hit a dead-end, rather than Macon Road like I was expecting. Attempting to backtrack only led me to a series of unknown road signs and more winding roads. So, I conceded the first loss of my fast, pulled over and typed my home address into Google Maps. Carolyn: 0, Phone Fast: 1.

Saturday breaks the fast

Saturday began with a trip to David’s Bridal in Southaven to find my cotillion dress. Since both my mom and I did not know what to look for, we attempted to base my dress off what other people had sent in the Cotillion group chat. However, to do so, I had to tell my mom the password to my phone so she could scroll through the photos. Technically my phone was used, but hey, it wasn’t me. But, it was me later that day. My friend was having a birthday party at her house and, once everyone raided the immense shelves of onesie pajamas, I got my phone out and started snapchatting my finds, including a fabulous Mickey Mouse onesie. Twenty minutes of playing around and taking photos passed before I remembered I was on a phone fast, but it was already too late. Carolyn: 0, Phone Fast: 2.

Snooze-day Sunday

While Saturday was a failure, Sunday was a genuine success. It turns out when you’re busy doing homework all day, you don’t have time to miss your phone! Carolyn: 1, Phone Fast: 2.

Monday music mania

Because my dad revealed during dinner on Sunday night that I had satellite radio in my car, Monday morning began terrifically. Once I started driving to school, I immediately turned on XM radio. In that moment, it was the most glorious sound I’d heard the whole week. There were no commercials, and the three most played songs on FM radio, “Cheap Thrills” by Sia, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” by Adele and “Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes, didn’t play. After arriving at school, though, I saw my Discover Weekly playlist notification from Spotify, which killed me since I had to wait until the following day to listen to it. But, by this point, I was in the homestretch, and nothing could deter me. I didn’t use my phone the entire school day and even made it the whole ride home without opening my Discover Weekly playlist.

Re-entering the 21st century

I woke up earlier than usual on Tuesday morning and immediately sent a text to the NewsGryphs group chat: “my phone fast has officially ended.” After sending that text, I opened Spotify and jammed out to my Discover Weekly playlist while getting ready.

This week, it felt like I had been thrown back in time. While yes, I had my car and my laptop, I still wasn’t connected to the world around me in a way that I was used to. This killed me, especially on the first couple days when I would reach for my phone to call someone and realize I couldn’t. Not being able to communicate outside of school freely also forced me to tell people things all at once when I was with them in person, which was overwhelming at times. But forgetting something was worse. I’d just have to hope they checked their email or deal with them not knowing.

All in all, the phone fast sucked, and I definitely won’t reenter the world of a 1980’s teen any time soon.