Day 9: Tolstoy Would've Given up His Smartphone


One thing I have noticed right off the bat from my tech diet is having the mental energy and interest in wanting to read for pleasure. I don't know whether its because my brain has been intaking less information over the last week and now it has some room, or I am just so bored now that I carry around a book to keep me company. Wherever I would usually have my phone, a book has now replaced it, whether that is at the bus stop or waiting for a class to start.

Being in a Russian politics class this semester, my professor has recommended we read Tolstoy. I was not ready to dive into War and Peace but decided to take on one of his shorter reads, Father Sergius. Already 40ish pages in there are some parallels with me giving up my smartphone.

The story is of a man named Stepan Kasatsky who is a skilled soldier in the military. Every tells him great things are going to happen to him later in life. Kasatsky practices and studies in hopes of becoming a distinguished member of the military. He is also good friends with Tsar Nicholas I. Later on, Kasatsky decides to marry the love of his life. But on the eve of their wedding, his fiancée tells him that her and the Tsar had been in a relationship at one point. From here, Kasatsky decides to leave his military career, his mother and sister, and his fiancée to become a monk. This is as much as I have read. It seems as if the story revolves around how human relationships work, their complications, intricacies, etc. I also may be totally wrong with this assessment, but I'll keep everyone updated.

The reason why I found this story so applicable was not because I have decided to become a monk. I once met an Australian nun (I learned they refer to female monks as nuns in Buddhism) in the town of Bodhgaya, India who had for many years relinquished all contact with her family and friends. In her line of Buddhism, one of the core pillars was to give up on relationships you were dependent on. While I appreciated the nuns will power, I couldn't even begin to imagine how hard it would be to do such a thing. She hadn't even talked to her son in many years.

Through the lens of Buddhism, my smartphone was up there in terms of dependence. And now having given it up, I have realized that I am in contact with fewer people on a day-to-day basis. With my smartphone, I would be texting dozens of people a day, calling, messaging people through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp... but now I am limited to just texting (which is a real pain on the flip phone keyboard so I try to avoid it at all costs) and calling.

And why I am relating this is because I have come to the realization that through giving up my smartphone, I also had to give up being connected to people 24/7... and for a college student, this is not easy.

There are also good sides to this too. For the last couple of weeks, I have been able to have long, deep, joyous conversations on the phone with people that I would have normally just texted.

Sometimes, we all have to give up on a little to find a deeper connection to something. This smartphone detox is not only a way to have a little less distraction in my life, but is really an experiment in human interaction.