On Tuesday, I was at Littlefield bar. Don’t ask me what I was doing there, because the answer definitely isn’t “competing in a pun competition.” Anyway, it was during a break in the action of this not-pun competition that I raced to the bathroom, not remembering that my phone was tucked into one of the shouldn’t-be-legal back pockets of my jeans. I peed, wiped and flushed, business as usual. But when I stood and pulled up my pants, I heard a sound. It was a sound you hope never to hear — the thuddish, plunking sound of something that definitely should never be in water, falling into water. It was the sound of my past drowning.
I looked into the toilet and immediately realized what had happened. I’d been in situations like this before, but this time I was awake. I reached into the toilet and pulled my iPhone out, swaddling it in paper towel, watching as the water crawled along every edge of the phone’s protective case like a war map in a history movie. I patted and squeezed, praying the thing would live. The phone gave it a few seconds … then just straight powered down. This was the true definition of shade. #Byephonelicia.
You could read countless tech saves and dummies’ guides on how to save your phone after an incident like this. I admit, I’m still holding out hope that the “rice method” will eventually revive my old phone (no luck yet) so I can pull some contacts and photos off of it. But I’m also grateful it went the way of the dodo. Because in the end, dropping my phone into a toilet was actually one of the best things that’s happened to me this year. And everyone should try it at least once.
It’s a totally guilt-free way to disconnect from other people
Between texts from friends and colleagues, a growing pile of unread e-mails, group threads on Facebook and the constant pinging of updates from Twitter and Instagram, my phone was becoming less of a calling tool and more of an accountability monger. If you have a phone, what you don’t have is an excuse — for not texting back, for missing an e-mail, for ignoring a Facebook message.
Instead, you need to warn people when you’re planning to unplug or go radio silent for a few days. And even then you’re on a timer, ticking down to the second you promised you’d return to “real life.” By dropping my phone into a toilet, I flipped the bird to accountability. I went hands-free in the best way. And I got to do plenty of solo thinking while I went around putting the pieces back together.
It helps you focus on what’s important
It’s one thing to download phone apps and other social media-blocking software, but the feeling of phonelessness can actually help you tune in to whatever else you need to focus on when you use the internet. But what about the computer?, you might ask. Isn’t it just as bad? Sure, but reducing the scope of distraction could work in your favor.
It’s fine getting distracted when we have multiple means of doing so, but when your laptop becomes your only lifeline — especially if you work from home — multitasking is much harder, and you can’t afford to putz around on Facebook. Not having a phone meant the only thing I had to focus on was logging into work and getting as much shit done as I could.
You could end up with a cheaper phone plan anyway
I’ve been on contract with Verizon for almost four years now. I re-signed in 2014, before they did away with contracts and free upgrades last year. Even after my bill got a little cheaper when I upgraded to an iPhone 5 (RIP), I was paying $91-103 per month. And that was before long-distance fees, which I often got slapped with when visiting Canada.
When I dropped the phone into the toilet, I learned just how shitty Verizon could be. They didn’t have refurbished iPhones to sell me, they don’t allow unlocked phones on their network, travelling with any phone I bought from them would cost me $2/day in Canada (an extra $60/month on top of my bill) and just suspending a phone line with them costs $15/month. I’ve been a no-drama customer of theirs for 40 months, and a termination fee on the last eight months of my account was still an unflinching $260.
Long story short, have you checked your phone options lately? Is the plan you’re on really the cheapest one you can find? I got a friend’s unlocked phone and fixed her old cracked screen for $70, then switched to T-Mobile. Their $50 monthly plan gives me everything Verizon did, without additional fees in Canada or Mexico. The $260 contract cancellation fee with Verizon will pay for itself in a few months’ worth of savings on T-Mobile. And I never have to worry about roaming data again. Another point for the phone-in-the-toilet method!
It’s a fresh start for your artistry
If you’re like me, then you use your smartphone as a kind of creative clearinghouse. You start manuscripts and standup bits in phone notes, you keep thousands of photos in the hopes of someday needing to use them, you have a few old breakup texts that you hope will one day make it into the pilot of a webseries.
If you’re like me, you also never thought to backup your iPhone. But hey, guess what? All that “art storage” is really just virtual hoarding, and the only way to get over it is to drop your phone into a toilet.
You know you’d never delete all the stillborn material of your own accord; it takes a kind of Deus ex Machina to wrench the unfulfilled dreams from your hands and let you wipe the slate clean. Once I realized that my phone notes and photos were kaput, I felt a weight lifted. I also immediately turned on auto-backups on my new phone, but that’s just common sense. (I said you should drop your phone in a toilet once. After the second time, none of the results above are guaranteed.)
For more bathroom epiphanies, follow Sam on Twitter: @ahoysamantha