The Adventure of Phonelessness

Have you ever been doing your best to do door to door selling in a small, strange Florida beach town when your smartphone dies on you? I have.*

There are few things more stressful – and I really needed to get to a meeting at some beachfront restaurant. And yet I remember that time fondly.  From time to time, my phone still dies when I’m out and about. But anymore, I actually get a bit of a thrill from it.

I have to navigate without Google Maps. I might (gasp!) have to talk to strangers, or ask them to use their phones. I’m untethered from my lifeline of free information, free distractions, and easy aid. And at the same time I’m freed from the shackles of Slack notifications and emails and text messages.

A dead battery on a phone is such a small thing, but it sets me into an entirely new world. My generation is so dependent on Uber and Google and Google maps that phonelessness has become one of the great adventures of the modern world. Things gain riskiness again. I have to deploy resourcefulness, patience, and entrepreneurship which I can normally outsource to a small computer in my pocket.

Driving somewhere takes a new level of awareness – and gives you a new sense of pride. Music (turn on the car radio!) becomes less curated and more random, but that’s not always bad. And your mind can focus for once with the energy that might be consumed wondering what new notifications are passing onto your screen.

And all it takes is a low charge. If you’re ever looking for an easy way to add adventure to your life, this is it.

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James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, intellectual explorer, and perpetual apprentice. He opted out of college to join the Praxis startup apprenticeship program and currently manages marketing and communications at bitcoin payment technology company BitPay. He writes daily at