Earlier this week, I dumped an entire bottle of coffee into my bag. I fished my phone out immediately, but it did not entirely escape. The prevailing advice online to remedy the situation is to place the phone in a ziplock bag, covered in rice for 3-4 days. Kind of bizarre, but I’m giving it a whirl.
I had more trouble being disconnected for three whole days than I expected. I used to be the least tied to my phone. My friends still tease me about my phone not being charged or not having it with me, so I’m surprised how bereft I felt without it. Times have changed.
So I’ve chosen to look at the situation as a social experiment. I wondered if I’d see some of what the young girl sees in this now-famous YouTube video.
What would life be like without mobile devices? Here are some of the pros and cons I’ve noticed in my disconnected days.
Work Stays at Work – I’ve had the habit lately of picking up my phone every 30 minutes outside of work and scanning emails. I might not answer them, but I still view them, which puts me in a work frame of mind when I should be fully “at home” with my family. It’s a relief to fully focus on one aspect of my life at a time.
Fewer Interruptions – Text messages are a distraction and one that I feel I have to respond to immediately. Without these interruptions, I’m more focused at work and at home. Plus, my husband and I emailed through the day instead, which was less disruptive and allowed for more detailed messages to each other. Win win.
Time to just be – I usually bury my face in my phone on my bus ride to and from work. It’s 20 minutes to catch up on news, social media and cute cat videos. Without my phone, I looked out the window, and since my bus crosses beautiful Lake Washington into Seattle, it’s not too shabby an experience. I watched people on the bus (mostly buried in their phones) and speculated about their lives and jobs. I wrote ideas down on actual paper in a notebook. This was the best phone-free time. It was interesting and calming all at the same time.
Getting Somewhere New – I don’t remember how I used to get anywhere new without my phone to guide me. I had to look up a Google map on the computer before leaving and hand write the instructions down. I don’t miss that at all.
Meeting Someone – This takes far more planning ahead. Meeting someone requires details on exactly where you’ll meet and what to do if one of you is running late. And, if anyone’s plans change in transit, well, there’s not much that can be done to communicate that.
Miscellaneous Apps – I use my phone for weather updates, music, my alarm clock—all of which I couldn’t use. Minor inconveniences, but it’s amazing how much I rely on my phone for a variety of tasks throughout my day.
In all, this experiment of mine I think mirrors the growth of mobile usage across the world. Sure, when my phone was just for calls and text messages, I didn’t feel that attached to it, or feel the need to keep it charged and with me 24/7. Now it’s an extension of my entire day—directions, weather, work, calendar, social interaction and entertainment.
This is a long journey to tie this back to marketing, but modern marketers must be thinking mobile strategy. According to Pew Research–25th anniversary of the Web survey– 90% of adults have a cell phone and 66% of those say they use their phones to go online. Further, 33% of cell phone owners say that their primary Internet access point is their phone.
Your website, emails and social strategy must begin to center around the mobile device like never before. The trend is showing more mobile use in the future, not less and your potential clients and advocates will be frustrated with their experience with you if you’re not catering to their mobile habits.
So the big question? Did the rice baggie trick work? I’m happy to report that my phone is good as new. Phew, not sure I could make it much longer!