Lately, I have been playing a game with myself, and I’d like to invite all of you to play with me. It’s called the Phone Challenge.
As readers of this fine blog establishment know, I spend all day reading the entire internet and writing some of it. During what I think of as the High Pandemic Era (2020–2021), I was surprised to discover that despite gazing at my laptop screen all day and rarely leaving the house, I was still somehow spending four hours a day on my phone.
Seemed like a lot, to be honest.
Since then, I’ve been trying to see how low I can go without sacrificing my social relationships. Sure, I have internet friends — or, as I think of them, the people who live inside my phone. But I also stare at a laptop all day! And yes, I want to stay in touch with sources, friends, and family; that was the point of a phone when it was still a landline, after all.
But that landline comparison got me thinking. Even when I was a teenager and spent hours talking on the phone with my friends, I think I used it less than I do now. What is my life like if I stop treating my phone as an entertainment device and return to treating it as a tool?
This is the Phone Challenge: to use my phone as little as possible without sacrificing its real utility.
This approach has been pretty useful for me, actually! Look:
If you’re looking at this and going, “Nice brag, Liz,” you are a good candidate for the Phone Challenge.
The point isn’t to limit my contact with the internet — I still get to use my laptop as much as I want. But my laptop use is more deliberate than the way I used to pull out my phone for no reason, and my laptop doesn’t go everywhere with me.
I still use my phone as a phone a lot! I prefer phone calls to video calls because I like to pace while I talk. Most of my phone calls with friends and family last from half an hour to an hour. Obviously, talking to sources is pretty important to me, and those calls are usually about half an hour each. This use is unlimited, because phone calls are the original point of owning a phone.