Disconnected: Barcelona, April 1

Murphy’s law states that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. So naturally, my iPhone starts flipping the fuck out. I knew I should’ve exchanged it before I left California when it first started acting up.

A broken phone may not seem like a big deal. But when you’re traveling alone, 6,000 miles from home, in a new city every few days, your smartphone is your lifeline. I use it to navigate new cities, figure out public transit, to translate when necessary, and to communicate with home so I don’t feel so alone.

Without my phone, I feel lost.

Well, THIS is awkward...

Well, THIS is awkward…

Rather than giving the Apple store 579 euros I don’t have (roughly $806) I opted to leave it in a repair shop for a week.

One week without a phone. Holy shit.

It’s amazing how much we rely on our smartphones. Now I’ll have to look up directions on my laptop before I leave in the morning. I’ll have to use my sense of direction to backtrack my way home, or read metro maps to plan my routes. I’ll be unreachable until I get home at night.

Maybe my antisocial ass will actually strike up a real-life conversation with strangers. Come to think of it, I’ll need to work on softening my BRF (bitchy resting face).

I feel like this happened to teach me a lesson. Maybe I’ve been too caught up Instagramming and Snapchatting that I’ve been viewing the world through my phone instead of my own eyes.

The average person now checks their phone 150 times per day – that’s roughly once every 6 1/2 minutes if you’re awake 16 hours. Surveys have shown that one out of four people will even admit to checking their phones during sex.

We’ve allowed something that is supposed to aid our lives to define our lives.

How many of us are guilty of thinking in terms of a status update? Like, “Wow, that was an amazing/funny/inspiring moment that just happened – but how can I translate that into a post?” Sometimes it can feel as though an experience isn’t validated until it’s acknowledged on social media.

I am willing to admit that I have a hard time talking about my feelings, or anything that makes me feel vulnerable, unless it’s in electronic form. Like telling my friends and family that I love them. Or that I’m lonely on this journey. Or that I have no idea what I want to do with my life once I’m back in the States. I have a hard time saying these things out loud because I haven’t had to. Because I can more easily send a WhatsApp message.

But real life doesn’t happen on a phone. I know this seems hypocritical coming from an online blog, but I figured if I could admit my electronic dependencies to the world, perhaps others could recognize it in themselves as well.

That’s why traveling has changed me. Even when I had a functional phone, I am restricted to wifi. And being 8-9 times zones ahead of California makes interaction less frequent by default.

And now, for one week, I’ll have no phone. A small part of me is relieved to be free from the expectation that I should be accessible at all times, like I am in the United States. And as terrified as I am to have to navigate Barcelona my own, I am also afraid I might like being disconnected too much…

Disconnected from the social world, but connected to the real one.

To be continued…


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