10 Steps to Phone Freedom

I was at the park with my daughter the other day and we started counting the people who were walking past while looking at their phones. The numbers skewed high because it was hipster Brooklyn and on a relatively empty street where pedestrians didn’t have to worry about collisions, but my God what a sight. Eight out of ten people were doing it. This includes a group of guys where several different members of the group were not engaged in the group’s conversation and were instead checking their phones while walking.

I hate these people and whenever I’m pushing a stroller I like to charge straight at them in a game of chicken they don’t know they’re playing. If I’m riding my bike, I like to go within a puppy hair of clipping them in a desperate attempt to scare them straight. If they’re crossing the street against the light and forcing me to slow my car, I can’t resist yelling, “Get off your fucking phone!” This is met with derision 100% of the time, though that might be a New York thing.

The most horrifying thing about this disturbing trend is I’m part of it. While my daughter and I were counting the phone walkers, I was trying to photograph them with my phone. I think I even tweeted about it. Sometimes, when my kids are doing something cute, I don’t notice because I’m looking at pictures of them on my phone.

I had some success with the #NoWanks movement and it’s time we applied the same logic to our addiction to social media. Here are ten ways you can attain #PhoneFreedom.


One of the reasons I’ve been so successful with #NoWanks is I can call the cofounder Dante Nero whenever I’m struggling or have passed a milestone. A brief “Don’t give up” response from an “It’s been almost two weeks” text is often all you need to keep your hands out of your pajamas.

It won’t be hard to find another phone zombie to join you on this quest, and he’s not just there for the bad times. When you accomplish something like drink three beers at a bar without checking your phone, let him know. You can do this the next time you’re at your computer catching up on your various tasks. As my colleague Scott Locklin says, “If there is something very important happening on the Internets, maybe you should stay home and use a real computer to find out about it.”

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