I became intrigued with the notion of going data-free after hearing about other students who had no cell phone at all, and difficulties faced by some who weren’t allowed access to their phones by professors when they needed to be reachable for work-related issues.
In order to figure out how tricky it would be to live without the benefit of being constantly accessible, I decided I would turn off my phone’s cellular data and limit my social media time to a brief, computer-only time slot every morning and evening for a week.
Since I’ve had a smartphone for less than six months, I didn’t think it would be all that difficult to adjust, but there were some surprising challenges.
The first day’s issues were all relatively minor. I kept pulling up my social media apps out of habit, even though I would catch myself right after doing so.
The most frustrating part was when I realized I would be unable to use my run tracking app for the duration of the experiment; that in itself made it almost tempting to scrap the whole thing. Instead, I settled for using my phone’s built-in timer.
One of my friend’s texts wouldn’t go through my phone, but I wasn’t sure if it was related or not. I could still use iMessage on my computer to text them, so it wasn’t a large issue at this point.
On Tuesday, the first real benefits of this experiment surfaced when I realized it was much easier to fall asleep without a phone to browse the Internet on. It was also a little easier to be productive without my phone distracting me.
My phone’s battery also lasted much longer; I only used about 8 percent throughout the day. Even if it’s not a convenient power saving feature, that can be handy in a pinch.
There were plenty of negatives to match those positives, however. I was no longer able to check my group messaging app, through which I communicate with groups on class projects. I also had trouble getting texts in general. When I cheated and turned on the Wi-Fi for just a moment, they all came through at once.
Day three. Relying on my laptop for communication proved to be not only an inconvenience, but an actual impediment after causing some collaboration issues with an editor about a last-minute article pitch. Having no data was officially interfering with both social- and work-related communication.
I opted to scrap the project upon realizing that I was missing group text messages about a group project. This experiment wasn’t worth sabotaging my grades for.
The issues with text messages was a large challenge of going without data. However, it wasn’t all that difficult not having a constant connection to social media – though it took quite a bit of time to get caught back up on my newsfeed.
From that perspective, having constant access could be considered a time saver overall. It was an eye-opener seeing how much data I consumed during the day.
So, you don’t need data for important communications, going back to the basic world of telecommunications would be an easy move. But, if you enjoy or need to have data available for social media, work or for random Google searches throughout the day, discarding your data is not something I’d recommend.
Chloe Creager is a freshman in agricultural communication and journalism.