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Could you survive a 48-hour tethering sabbatical?

February 13, 2012

Jennifer Warren

Jennifer Warren and her dog Murphy;
her iPhone (below)

All kinds of interesting bar bets come up over drinks with friends.

Jennifer Warren's iPhoneWhen meeting Jennifer Warren, business manager at the Music Opportunity Program, her husband Tripp Warren and Sarah Miller for the first time during happy hour on a recent weeknight, we started talking about how technology can enslave us. Certainly, our little Twitter clique could identify. We had met online and only just last month decided to meet for the first time in person.

Which led me to an interesting proposition.

I asked Jenn to give me her iPhone. She eyed me warily. Her grip tightened on her phone.

I planted the idea that she should go the next 48 hours without her “lifeline.” I or Tripp would hold onto it, and she could ask for it back at any time. She could still access any of her social networks and email while on a computer, whether at work or at home.

But she needed some persuasion and some good old fashioned peer pressure.

(Are your palms sweating already at the thought of giving your smartphone to a stranger?)

It took outright bribery to get Jenn’s consent. But relent she did after a 20 minutes of talking her down. Why would someone willingly give up her smartphone? And why is that such a big deal?

Jenn talked about her 48-hour tethering sabbatical with me via email afterwards.

You were reluctant at first to give up your iPhone, even with a chance to get it back at any point. Why was that?

Jenn: Initially, the hardest part of this ordeal was the lack of control. Not having the ability check Twitter or make a phone call disturbed me, regardless of whether or not I really needed to do those things. I’ve been conditioned since I was 15 to think that I had to have a phone/ability to communicate to survive (a pitfall of being part of the “weaker” sex, I suppose).

What do you typically use your iPhone for, related to work, email, calls, text messages and social media?

Jenn: My phone is my main connection to the outside world! I use it to check work emails when not at work: I like keeping apprised of what’s happening even when I’m not at my desk. It’s my go-to source for personal emails as well.

I use apps for Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, reading news, finding recipes to try, etc. Why bother turning on a computer and logging in separately to each site when it all takes is a tap on my phone?

My phone is also my camera, photo album and favorite time-waster.

What was the biggest challenge for you during the 48 hours?

Jenn: Surprisingly, it was hardest being without a cell phone while driving. I was worried about driving in the rain: What if I wrecked and couldn’t call my husband? Of course, that didn’t happen, but the possibility freaked me out.

What did you learn from this experience/ordeal?

Jenn: I learned, to my astonishment, able to quickly overcome my Twitter addiction and survive without constant social media updates. Perhaps my life doesn’t really hinge on my Klout score …

What was your reward for sticking it out the full 48 hours?

Jenn: My sweet husband promised me season tickets to the Birmingham Barons! I can’t wait to support our local team (especially once they move to the new stadium by Railroad Park).

Could you survive 2 days without your smartphone? Let ’er rip in the comments …

• • •

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. Tripp permalink
    February 13, 2012 9:57 am

    This was a great idea – I think she’s learned to not worry about work so much when she’s away and can’t control it anyway.

    Another of our friends in Boston was intrigued seeing us discuss this on Twitter, and opted to give it a shot himself. I guess I’m next!

    • February 13, 2012 11:53 am

      Worrying about work or anything else saps away energy needlessly. Glad she’s rebalancing. And glad she survived!

  2. Anonymous permalink
    February 13, 2012 1:50 pm

    Okay. Fine. I’m doing it.
    You win.

  3. February 15, 2012 8:13 am

    I don’t have a smart phone yet. (I can hear your gasps of shock and horror.) My husband and I were talking about getting one for each of us with our income tax return, but I’m a little nervous about it for the very reason of becoming tethered to it.

    I wonder if anyone is as tethered to their “dumb” phone – albeit for different reasons?

    • February 15, 2012 4:47 pm

      Good question. Certainly, people become attached to texting all hours of the day and night, so I’m guessing it happens even on plain phones.

  4. February 18, 2012 6:55 pm

    What’s with the different photos showing up when I check this?

    • February 18, 2012 9:31 pm

      I’m not sure: It should only be two photos. The main is Jenn and her dog Murphy, and the small photo is her iPhone. If you’re seeing something else, please send me a screenshot.

  5. February 23, 2012 6:12 pm

    Ohmygosh, I could not live without my smartphone. Been using it everyday, everytime and all my connections are in there.


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