The other day I was wading waist deep in a cesspool (that is little exaggeration) and didn’t realize that I had my phone in my back pocket. I never have my phone with me so it didn’t even occur to me that it would be on me. I was doing a photo shoot and was caught up in getting the shot and in the moment and I didn’t think to check. I was just excited about life.
Only about two hours later did I find my phone in my back pocket, waterlogged and dead and never turning back on. At first I groaned.
“Ugh I need to get a new phone…”
“Ugh I’m about to get on a plane to New York City in 3 hours…”
“Ugh this is a hassle…”
And then, literally moments later, I shrugged. I didn’t care. It is a PHONE. It is not the end of the world.
I laughed about it. I had just drowned my phone in a cesspool…that is kind of funny, right? And it is SO me! Of course I did that. Why haven’t I done it sooner?
And so, aside from the worry of trying to let my husband know that I was safe and sound on my travels, I had not a care in the world. I actually felt relief. As I was sitting on the plane that night it felt so amazing to know that I didn’t have to communicate in that way. I could stand in front of the people I was with and have no distractions whatsoever. I could be completely present in the moment, not thinking about sending a text or calling anyone or looking that thing up that I’ve been debating on the internet.
I spent 24 hours in NYC with no distractions.
I spent the next week at home with no distractions.
I have always hated technology in some capacity. I am a technophobe. I love having a phone to call my family, and I recognize that I need to work when I travel since I travel so much, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.
This experience made me decide to spent more time hiding my phone away – not answering calls and feeling frantic about the next email that will come through. You don’t have to drown your phone in a cesspool to feel free and disconnected. It is a way of life. It is a gift that you can give yourself at any time.
Look at those pictures from the cesspool shoot. I could, literally, not be a happier person. I would drown my phone again one hundred times if it meant I could relive that experience for the sheer joy that I felt doing it. I’m not afraid to say it…I love wading in filthy water to get a picture. I love the adventure of it. And that’s just me: phone in back pocket, filled with the dirtiest water you can imagine, and a smile sweeping across my face so big it could last a lifetime.
How do you feel about your phone, or being constantly connected?
Sandy Gutierrez - love every word!
brookeshaden - You are so great Sandy xoxo
Jeremy Gouge - I just blogged last night to a similar topic. Always enjoy reading and following your work!
brookeshaden - Oh wonderful! Send me a link 🙂 I love this topic.
adriana anaya - If everybody think like you do, the world will be a better place.
brookeshaden - Aww you are great Adriana!! <3
Sam Rytter - I got rid of my last cell about 7 years ago and could not be happier. 🙂
brookeshaden - I love that Sam!! I thought of doing the same thing but didn’t quite feel safe enough traveling by myself so often. Bummer!
Mary Angelini - LOL, a few years ago I made the decision to get rid of our land line and just go with cell phones. At first I totally freaked about it, but as time went on I realized the only calls we were getting anyway were telemarketing calls. Now, the only calls I do get of any consequence are from my husband or my daughter, so it turned out well.
Texting, that is another story! I text a lot, especially with my daughter who is away at college. So I would miss that and I get anxious when I text her or my husband and don’t get an immediate response. That instant gratification thing is rooting I’m afraid.
However, when I am out in the field shooting I let them know that I am off the grid because it does become too much of a distraction. I feel so much freer knowing they know they need to wait a little while and I will have that peace and solitude.
It reminds me of a time when there were no cell phones and life totally went on in ignorant bliss. Without it I find my peace and my creative zone, so as much as I love my cell phone, I do know there are times when it needs to be given a much needed rest!
brookeshaden - I love that story Mary – I totally agree. I couldn’t go without talking to my parents every day, nor would I want to, but I would want to limit what I see on my phone – the internet, and emails. And I love the idea of going out shooting with the announcement that you’ll not be available. Looove that!
Mary Angelini - Glad I could give you that idea. Seems only fair since you have given me so many 🙂
douglas lopez - Absolutely agree with you!
Just being without a phone we can know what it feels like not to be connected, even those who are not smart phone, calls are always traceable with earrings and things to do.
Recently I had lunch alone and there is always someone with a smart phone doing something, I realized that it is almost an obligation to be doing something on the phone, I had to make an effort to keep my phone and eat without him.
I accept that I am addicted to the internet more than calls, it is definitely necessary to make an effort to unwind and enjoy more of the “analog” world.
PS: Congratulations and thanks for the course in creativelive
brookeshaden - Thanks for writing! I agree with you – it can be an effort not to use the phone, crazy enough as that sounds. And I too love the internet for exactly this type of connection, but do need to put it away from time to time. Thanks for watching the cL classes!
Sonja Lovdal - I’m one of those people who can’t live without their smartphones. I really want to be that person who never brings along their phone because they can do without it. Regardless to that I constantly find myself checking my phone.
I think it’s a very good excuse if you have no one to talk to and nothing else to fiddle with. You look down at your phone and you know that no one will interrupt you or force you to be a part of the social event going on.
brookeshaden - That is a fantastic point Sonja. I can relate to that. There are times when I know I’d like to be alone in my head, or just distracted, and whipping the phone out is great for that.
Todd - I feel the same way. I really wish we could go back to the days before cell phones or feeling the need to be constantly in contact. That feeling of, “I might miss something,” if i don’t have my nose buried in my device reading the latest Facebook post etc. We have become a society of technozombies who forfeit a real conversation and living in the moment over to standing in a circle of “friends” staring at our devices totally ignoring those around us including, some times our loved ones.
brookeshaden - Yes Todd I can definitely feel that sometimes. I love not having a phone, and now that I do have one again (darn travel!) I find myself ignoring it. I couldn’t even tell you where it is right now and why? Because I’m writing to new friends on my blog and I’m about to have pancakes with my love 🙂
janie - Every Wednesday we have “unplugged” night at our house, no television, iPads or cell phones … Communication, art, reading and games are the main priority. We share a house with our daughter and granddaughter and it has been a wonderful way for all of us to be a family without interruption.
brookeshaden - Janie, that is so totally amazing and I love you for that. I’m taking a page out of your book!
Sharon Fibelkorn Chapman - I turn my phone off at about 5pm … and when I’m driving … and when I’m on a shoot. I respect that we all have this need to communicate upon demand all the time but I need personal space and time to think. With the phone on, I fret that I’m missing someone. With it off — I’m just away. Good for you drowning your phone while living in the love of the moment!
brookeshaden - Ahh Sharon that is really wonderful. Having dedicated “turn-off” times. Yes yes!
Amani - That actually does sound like a lot of fun!
If it were me I think I’d feel bad about ruining my phone cause of all the pictures I have on it (I almost never back up my phone :/)
But I do wish I didn’t feel the need to check my phone or keep it with me all the time.
brookeshaden - Ahh yes that is the one thing that I regret – all the pictures I never backed up. Sigh! Now I know!
Aimee Bant - Hi Brooke 🙂 I lost my phone one year like yourself, by killing it whilst wading through the sea! But it’s funny that you should post this because I have just lost another one of my phones this week! It turned off completely by itself and would not turn on again. It’s been strange not having a phone and like you say, a relief! However on the downside I have lost 6 months worth of photographs, and being a photographer too, it has almost killed me!! I wish I could be as relaxed as you about it! 😛
Thanks for sharing a lovely post, I love your free spirit 🙂
brookeshaden - Gah yes the photos! I have lots of memories on that phone but I hope to be able to retrieve them. Darn that downside! 🙂
Robert Cornelius - Hahaha I love this, of course this would be how you broke a phone!
So true that these days we are all frequently nose deep in our phones. Often missing out on the little details in life, on interactions we might be having be having with the people and the world around us. Don’t get me wrong, like you’ve said I love the instant contact I have with my loved ones, but sometimes it’s SO NICE not to have it.
My boss/very good friend has a tiny cabin that sist literally on top of a mountain. I absolutely love going up there, because after several winding miles of dirt road, there is absolute no cell service. (Or electricity!) I can just be totally with nature and family and friends and not worry about who posted what on Facebook, the emails I should be responding to, or the missed call I need to return. It’s such a nice and fulfilling break from everyday life. I always feel so refreshed. 🙂
brookeshaden - Hahaha 🙂 I love it.
That cabin sounds like the best thing ever. I hope to have a place like that to retreat to someday, and for now, I’ll just use self-enforced rules 🙂
Graeme Reilly - A consequence of new technology has been that we invest in worry.
Not just even our own worry – if we are incommunicado for a while, we worry about other people’s anxieties. Our parents and their parents never worried unnecessarily if someone never got in touch for a day or two, or was abroad for a week and never managed to get word home until their return.
Going further back, a telegram was actually a means for worry. Letters were sporadic, and contact could be brief.
But now if we lose contact for a relatively short time, we worry about those we are unable to communicate with, and we feel distress at what they may think of our lack of communication.
In as such, technology is actually making us insecure, and hurts development of trust in our interpersonal relations. It has become a crutch we can lean on instead of growing – in education, relationships, and as people.
brookeshaden - I agree with you Graeme, so true. We evolve with our technology and once we know we can contact people immediately, it becomes “scary” to not do that.
Annie laura - Over the summer I sat on a farm fence watching a tractor bail hay. I absorbed the zen before fleeing through the rows to photograph the men at work.
Somewhere in those hay bails is my phone. I did go to the lengths of taking a medal detector into the field and scouting for it, but truly I’m ok with it.
I don’t like being available for anybody at every moment. It’s been a release.
brookeshaden - That is a beautiful way to lose a piece of technology – enjoying the moment, appreciating it, and taking time to reflect on life.
Joshua Pheneger - I have a 14 year old daughter who could use more time without her cell phone. Then again, I guess I would benefit from this too… as I type this on my cell phone. 🙂
brookeshaden - Ahhh I love that! <3
aniya - so feel you on this!!! with 2 little ones it can be a life line – but when i know they are ok – its so freeing! i feel like i finally see the world – literally! my head is constantly down at the screen – sometimes i dont even remember who was talking to me, or what i was looking at.. shameful!
we should probably all drown out phones, just to get back to life a little
Charlotte Key - I envy you in the fact that you can go without your phone voluntarily Brooke and I would love to just chunk mine into the nearest landfill, but since I have a child in kindergarten I’m kinda stuck with it for safety’s sake.
Maybe being so shackled to the darn thing is the reason for my photographers block…….I need my freedom from that evil device!!!!
Vinod Krishnan - ya my phone also sucks…i sincerely plan to get rid of it on weekends…
Svenlovesflo - People for years have told me they envy me because I do not carry a phone with me…it does allow one to be present…I am glad for you that you reached this realization…maybe this could be an inspiration for one of your masterpieces
Libertad Leal - I have a love/hate relationship with it. It’s so useful but such a distraction! I actually didn’t really think I was on it that much but then one day my 4 year old told me “no phone mama, no phone!” and I felt so bad. So that was it. I try to pretty much ignore it when I am with my kiddos. I do struggle with not taking a million photos with it because man, the everyday beauty and magical moments! I can’t help it. But sometimes I miss the moment because I was taking a photo so I try to keep that in mind. Like I said: love/hate.
Danni Siminerio - I love this story and I love your passion! keep it up, Brooke!
thomas miles - this is perfect timing! I just left my phone at my moms! Think I might just forget about it XD weird coincidence XD
Paulo Carvalho - Brooke, last September I also lost my phone. I went riding MTB, and when I was coming down the mountain with a certain speed, my pocket, which had the phone, ruptured and stuck through the hole pocket. For me, the phone has no great importance, my happiness and wellbeing does not pass for having phone. I can very well live without it, but in some aspects it always helps too. The most annoying was having to spend money and buy a new one. Contacts? I always like to have the contacts in my address book paper!
David Cortez - I believe the one thing, if any one thing was of the utmost importance, that I am here on this earth for is to make connections with people. It’s all we have. Nothing takes the place of direct contact with another without the interruption of a meaningless phone cal or checking facebook for the latest funny cat meme. My mom refuses to ge a phone and it’s always a hassle trying to get a hold of her, and yet, she seems very happy in it and I never understood why. I love connecting with people because through others we learn and grow and change and evolve and it’s freakin’ wonderful! Through connecting with your blog this way, I learned about my mother and a little more about you and your process. I love when people are candid. thanks for your thoughts. 🙂
Tony - I have a less drastic answer to this, I have two mobiles, one that I give the number out when needed, the other is only known to close family and friends. I don’t always carry both, this stops my private number getting out to junk callers. It probably works out cheaper than drowning it! 🙂
Tara Eveland - Actually my husband and I decided 2 months ago to not continue our cell contracts and for many reasons.
1. we were always on them. never in the moment. if you look around ppl even on DATES are on their phones, its just become a social norm to interact with others AND your phone at the same time, I didn’t like that.
2. we were always attached to them. if we left the house without it, had to turn around for it. why? we had our kids with us, what did we REALLY need to know from the phone that was so important?
so we switched to vonage; haha I know thats what the commercial says but a simple, old fashioned house phone that people have to actually CALL to talk to me on. It hardly rings, imagine that!
Hey brooke, i want to ask you something and I didnt know where since you are so wide spread I thought you might see it here more likely. My question is this. Im reading your inspiration book, taking it in, soaking it up and loving it! I am in sort of a ‘creators block’ though. I have an idea Im inspired by, its hard to explain but basically I want to create an image that shows how old cameras and film were replaced with new technology and basically forgotten. I want to have a man in the image as well to symoblize kindda how that is in our lives as well as we grow older. will we still have people that remember us and love us, want to be around us, or will we just fade away like film kindda did? so thats the best i can describe it.
I just DONT KNOW HOW TO execute it! Its been driving me nuts. How do you get past something like that when you have the whole idea, inspiration, ext. but no idea what to do with it?
As always best wishes 🙂
Justin Osmer - I went surfing one time and I had the phone strapped to my leg so I could keep track of wave currents and record me surfing for friends to watch on G+. I caught a wave and then when it was done I reached down to grab my phone and it wasn’t there. At first I freaked! I had just got the new iPhone 5 when it first came out. I kept looking and then after about 5 minutes I realized it’s just a phone. It wasn’t keeping me alive, just keeping me in touch with the world when what I needed was to enjoy the surf and disconnect me from the world. Stuff like that has to happen to me every once in awhile for me to realize that I don’t need it as bad as I think I do at that moment. Let’s lose phones more often =]
Maryanne - I read an account recently of someone who would take their computer cord and mail it to themselves to give them a few days bread from electronic distractions.
Danny Bittencourt - eheheh I am just like you. I think I already lost about 30 celphones and when a lose a phone I just dont mind. Its like you say, It´s just a phone. Brooke I will publish a Fine Art book in Brazil and I would like to invite you to present your work because you are a refence for me and a inspration of course. I will sendo you an email with more informations and better english =)
Dina Hampton - I take days off from my phone, its pretty peaceful, but others dont like it . They want you to be at their fingertips these days. However it frees the mind to think and put your life in perspective again. Putting on your voicemail that I will return your call within 24 hrs is nice to
because that also gives you freedom. Then you return them all at once and your day isnt broken up with scattered calls all day.
Kimberly A Edwards - I use my phone as a phone. It has some games on it I like to play, they put me to sleep. I use my phone on occasion to check social media and email and sometimes messaging, not very often. I only have it for emergency’s sake. I very rarely get any calls. Today is the 10th of Feb. The last text message I got was Feb 3rd. The last phone call I got was Feb. 8th. I do have a Nook Tablet that read on. Sometimes, I might watch a show on Netflix on the tablet. I use my desktop for anything important online. Like replying to your post here and now. I believe most people using phones put too much focus on them. I would’ve probably done the same thing you did in the water.
Blessings and happiness to you!