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My 4-Day Frustrating Forced Phone Fast: What I Learned in the Silence of Being Unplugged

My 4-Day Frustrating Forced Phone Fast: What I Learned in the Silence of Being Unplugged

Day: Saturday morning

Location: Apple store

Issue: Stripes on screen

I stood on the curb at the quaint mall, 20 minutes before they opened, fifth in line. I hid my irritation around the nearby strangers, but inside I felt my nerves starting to get on each other.

It’s fine. I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s just stripes. A few stripes are fine. It’ll be fine, right? Oh my gosh—what if it’s not fine?

“Hi. How can I help you?”

I turned my phone in the man’s direction. “I have an issue.”

“Ohhh, yes.” He tried to hide his best-guess diagnosis, but I knew he knew. My issue consisted of irregular vertical lines, some skinny, some fat, glitching like a disco party, solely on the left side of my screen.

“Okay… we’ve got you in the system. Should be about 45 minutes.”

When the Genius Bar employee retrieved me, I still had hope.

Done Damage

“Hi, I’m Holly.”

Older and calm, she spoke with authority. Not pushy or arrogant—just knowledgeable.

“Hi Holly, I’m Irritated. Nice to meet you.”

(Just kidding—I didn’t say that.)

She looked at my screen, put a magnifying glass over the tiny microphone hole, and gave me the news.

“Looks like water damage.”

Surprised, I gently argued. “But I’ve never spilled water on it or dropped it in water. Ever.”

She smiled and added her best empathy. “Yeah, sometimes if you have it in your pocket when you’re working out….”

How did she know?!

Hope faded, exasperation took over, and shame slapped me in the back of the head.

This wouldn’t have happened if you had taken better care of your phone. 

I argued back in my own mind. 

Yeah, and if I had stopped my husband from buying it on eBay then I’d have insurance and could easily get a replacement sans hassle. But we’re not there now, are we?

Lovely Holly laid out my options and I nodded in agreement, mortified to be dropping so many hundreds of unplanned dollars on a random Saturday morning. 

She helped, but my emotions vacillated between disappointment and aggravation, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry or hit something.

So I thanked her and walked out.

Regrets & What-Ifs

Sometimes trying to save money backfires. I’m frugal by nature, which has saved me a boatload of pesos over the years. Sometimes you get what you pay for though. An iPhone from eBay worked great years ago, but not this time.

When I felt a bit anxious about living without a phone, my not-helpful brain kicked into high gear and took me for a ride on the “what-if” train:

Saturday – Running errands without a phone

  • What if my car breaks down as I’m jetting around town? 
  • What if my family needs me and they have no idea where I am?
  • What if I need to take a picture of something incredible?
  • What if my car breaks down on the way back?

Sunday – Going to church without a phone 

  • What if my car breaks down on the way there?
  • What if I forget my Bible and need my Bible app?
  • What if my car breaks down on the way back?

Monday & Tuesday – Going to work without a phone 

  • What if my car breaks down on the way there? 
  • What if my family needs me and they can’t remember the name of my school to call the office? 
  • What if my sister calls and thinks I’m ignoring her?
  • What if my friend texts and thinks I’m ignoring her?
  • What if I really want to listen to a podcast or audiobook?
  • What if my car breaks down on the way back?

Wednesday – New phone arrived

  • I never broke down.
  • My family didn’t need me. 
  • I didn’t miss any incredible photo ops.
  • Nobody died.

Are these things you ever thought about in the 80s? Me neither! We just jumped in our cars and drove to wherever, never giving thought to all the what-ifs.

Photo by Skylar Michael on Unsplash

Silent Lessons

Why is it that sometimes most times it takes a disaster or an emergency to make me change my ways? I despise this about my human nature. 

How hard would it be to turn my phone off and drive in silence every day? But noooo… I have to listen to something and learn or be entertained while I’m driving to work? All in the name of multitasking and productivity?


How hard would it be to leave my phone at home on Sundays and actually go back to carrying a Bible? Not hard at all, especially because all my people would have their phones. And if we ever had an emergency, the hundreds of people around me would have theirs as well!

At the end of my four-day forced phone fast, I felt pretty decent about how I handled the inconveniences. At the same time, I truly shocked myself at how many times I went to reach for it, forgetting I was in cell phone time out.

Kinda like when the power goes out and I keep flipping light switches on every time I walk into a new room. How can my short-term memory be that pathetic?

One thing I learned…

Surviving without a cell phone is possible. And inconvenient. But possible. 

Those four days felt like a little gift of time. A little gift of silence in the car. A little gift of brain space. 

I’ve considered turning my phone off on Sundays, but so far I’ve found my willpower to be weak and highly distractible. How can one glass rectangle hold that much power over me? Ugh.

Have you ever taken a phone fast on purpose? Tell me about it in the comments! You could be the one to inspire the rest of us!

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