What happens when you lose cell phone service

What Happens When You Lose Cell Phone Service

One of our goals in 2019 is to be more present with ourselves, our friends, and our environment.  Another goal is to go on more backcountry adventures. Which means putting that cell phone into airplane mode more. Pair these two goals together and something equal parts terrifying and relaxing happens—the loss of cell phone service. Our lifeline to the world. Our security blanket. Our tether to reality.

While uncomfortable at first, vowing to put ourselves in more situations where we can disconnect from our devices and reconnect with reality will make us feel like we’re living our best lives.

What Happens When You Lose Cell Phone Service

At some point, whether it’s when you drive into a National Forest, pull into a trailhead, walk into a valley, It happens. You look down at your phone and see the dreaded “No service.” Your pulse quickens. You fruitlessly hold your phone above your head. You scramble to send just one more text. 

No choice now but to continue forward into the Great Unknown. You clutch your useless phone in your hand, constantly checking it for a spot of service. No luck.

Eventually, you accept that your phone’s main function has become a camera. Sure, it can’t contact the world, but you can still use it to take photos and videos to share with the world.

A few hours have passed. You’re still subconsciously investigating those phantom vibrations in your pocket, but at least your phone is out of sight, almost out of mind. You’re disconnecting.

What’s that you feel? A lightness in your chest? An awareness of the world around you? A newfound clarity? That’s from the lack of cell service! This is what freedom feels like.

You reach a beautiful viewpoint or a rock overhang or a beautiful field of wildflowers. And you don’t even think to pull out your phone for an Insta-story. You just stand and take in the beauty of the world with your own eyes. You actually feel the breeze on your skin, smell the fragrant flowers, touch the cool rocks. You’re living in the moment.

You reluctantly turn around and head back to your car. You still feel light, but a forlornness sets in. Your mind drifts back to To Do lists and emails replies and chores. You wonder what you’ve missed in your time away.

Driving home, your phone starts to vibrate and make sounds, signaling your reentry into the connected world. It sucks. You’re sad. You wonder how important all the notifications actually are.

For a few days, you cling to the feeling of being free from your phone. You post less on social media, make eye contact more with friends. But then you fall back into your old ways, being chained to the computer in your hands.

You start to plan your next getaway with no cell service.

Tanya Twerdowsky
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