No Mobile Phone

I have had a mobile phone since 2001, over thirteen years, but for thirty days, from Tuesday the 10th of February until the 12th of March, I shall live without.

The big question is:


This project is part of a long term experiment with positive constraints, which are ways of opening up the imaginative space behind ingrained habits and unquestioned social customs. Having had a mobile phone for over thirteen years, I’ve fallen into lazy habits and lost both the benefits of a life without and my appreciation of the phone itself.

One of the best things about using positive constraints is that you don’t know what you’ll discover during your experiment. One of my friends recently gave up her smartphone for what she called “a shit phone” (it still made calls and thus would be considered a miracle in any other age but ours). She was expecting to experience a vast reduction in her communication; what she wasn’t expecting was that she would write more music, improve her relationship with her mother and become a graffiti artist.

Having said that, here are a couple of reasons why anyone might want to give up their phone (at least for a while):

  • Using mobile phones make us more anxious, which has unexpected knock-on effects.
  • According to a Science Museum survey, the mobile phone is the tenth most important thing people “couldn’t live without”, beating out central heating, fresh vegetables and shoes.
  • In New York, a third of people can’t even walk down the street without their mobile phones. Check out this video, part of a campaign by New Tech City called “Bored and Brilliant”:

So that’s it. If you need me, you can catch me online or at home. Otherwise, I guess I’m out!

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

3 thoughts on “No Mobile Phone”

  1. This is quite an amazing experiment – I’m envious. Whilst I have convinced myself that I probably couldn’t do my job effectively without a mobile phone, I am considering cutting off social media ties.

    Do you think there are benefits to be had from Facebook and Twitter? For years I have justified my existence on both sites by telling myself that I am introduced to new ideas and discover alternative opinions each day.

    1. Howdy! It was indeed an absolutely amazing experiment. I’m now back with my phone, but I have one rule: never put it in my pocket. Consequentially, I hardly ever use it, let alone think about it. Addiction: broken! The phone is there for my convenience now.

      On to the questions!

      1. How do you know you couldn’t do your job effectively without a mobile phone? This is my major gripe with modernity – no one ever tests the alternative option!

      2. However, the other problem is that, while you might be able to do your job effectively without a mobile phone, your bosses and colleagues probably couldn’t bear it! Society is becoming increasingly funnelled into enforced smartphone usage.

      3. Do I think there are any benefits to be had from Facebook and Twitter? Not on balance, no. But the only way you’ll ever know that is by… testing the alternative option. Delete your accounts for 3 months at least and then see what happens. What could you possibly lose? When I deleted my Facebook account, I discovered that a tiny bit of my brain previously permanently and subconsciously worrying about Facebook was now ready for more edifying uses. See Continuous Partial Attention, a fantastic article by Linda Stone.

      4. Your justification for being on social media is almost certainly not valid, see Filter Bubble. More likely is that your social media is making you anxious and giving you bad sleep.

      Good to hear from you, man! Hope you try out phonelessness, or social-media-lessness at least! You’ll never go back 🙂

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