Phone frustrations: Two weeks without LTE

By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor 

Some say that reason is the strongest ruler, but those who say that have clearly never owned an iPhone before.

I’ve had one for the past two years, and it was a huge upgrade from a Windows smartphone that I’d been frustratingly trying to use previously. Do you like phones that have nice cameras but also have screens that shatter when you breathe on them too hard? Toasters are easier to text on than a Windows smartphone. And you can forget about popular apps; you have to stick with Window’s laughable knock-offs of Instagram and Snapchat.

Needless to say, when I got that iPhone, it was like the floodgates of heaven opened up. The sky was the limit. I could purchase phone cases from any store I walked into. I could group text and have all of the replies be sent to one single message feed instead of individual ones. I could Snapchat dog-filtered selfies to my millennial heart’s content. Siri could talk to me at inappropriate times, like while I’m in class when I really should be paying attention to the lesson on Plato.

But given all of this, it wasn’t until last week that I really realized the vice-like grip my iPhone had on my entire life. Sure, everywhere I went my iPhone tagged along like an annoying sibling that you secretly enjoyed having around. Sure, I check my home screen every couple of minutes to make sure that I’m not missing any important texts or notifications. But when my dad shut my phone’s data off, it dawned on me that I rely on my iPhone for basically every single aspect of my daily life.

This is going to sound like a spoiled first-world problem, but I am highly aware of how lucky I am to have my parents pay for my phone as a college student. However, that means since I’m not footing the bill, I’m subject to the rules of the person who is. So, when my family used up the majority of our shared monthly data, the gatekeeper, aka my father, turned it off to avoid further penalties.

For two weeks, I was to rely on spotty Wi-Fi connections for all of my internet needs. I’ll never know quite what The Hunger Games felt like, but I imagine it was something like this.

Thus began my eye-opening frustration. Want to listen to Spotify on your long commute to and from school? Sorry, you’re stuck listening to Taylor Swift’s “1989” album on repeat or whatever commercials the good ol’ radio might be playing. Want to text someone else with an iPhone while you’re out and about in the world? Sorry, you’re going to have to click and hold until it says “Send as Text Message” and then continuously remind those you are texting to do the same with their replies.

And you can just forget about group messages.

No Siri, no directions when you get lost, no googling, no social media, nothing. Welcome to 2002 again. This probably was a great opportunity to embrace the real world around me, but it only made me acutely aware of how much I needed my phone – especially when it began to act up even more due to a space issue.

Apparently it’s not a great idea to keep 3,000 photos on your phone at all times; it causes your Apple ID to log out permanently, your iMessage to shut off altogether, your phone to restart randomly and change your set backgrounds and your ability to connect to Wi-Fi to become impossible. Trying to fix these problems with no Wi-Fi and no LTE data was rage-inducing. There were several times over the course of several days of this that I just wanted to throw my phone against the wall and call it quits.

As much as we like to believe we aren’t subject to the ways of our phones, that’s just not true in 2017. Internet and instant gratification through our phones have been far too ingrained in our lives, so when easy access to the world that exists online is taken away, it’s like losing a limb. We don’t know how to function because everything we do and need in our daily lives is wired through that little plastic and metal box.

I would talk more about how I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, but my data just got turned back on, and I’ve got some group texts to send.