In 2019, it’s pretty uncommon that we find ourselves completely offline. However, dead zones and long flights remain an unavoidable part of life for many.
Google Assistant now recommends things to do when you’re phone is offline, like playing games, but we’ve come up with a few options to add to the list. Without further ado, here are some things you can do when your phone is offline.
Take advantage of offline storage
If you know that you’re going to be going off the grid ahead of time, you have a tremendous advantage. Put those gigs of storage to use by downloading your favorite playlists or videos. Most streaming services offer this as an option. You can even save online articles for later perusal.
Having a library of readables on your Kindle or Audible app can also help pass the time. That’s right: books are still a thing people make and, apparently, consume. If you haven’t jumped on the literary bandwagon, now’s your chance!
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Re-check for networks constantly
Face it, you’re going to exhaust just about every obvious activity you can do with your phone while it’s offline pretty quick. When it happens, you’ll be tempted to check your network connectivity like a gerbil on a heroin drip. Go ahead and give into that temptation. The sooner you get reconnected the better. Refresh, refresh, refresh.
Note that searching for networks sacrifices substantial battery life. Use Airplane Mode if you’re in a power-conservation situation. If you’ve brought along a hefty power bank like a responsible tech enthusiast, you should be good to go.
Use your device as a paperweight
Sometimes paper doesn’t stay where it’s supposed to, which is why God invented paperweights. Most people pay good, hard-earned money for paperweights shaped like turtles or oversized diamonds, but your offline phone is just as effective at keeping paper still.
To convert your phone into a paperweight, simply place the device on top of papers that you want to remain stationary. Now if someone opens a door briskly or cats invade your workspace, your papers will remain right where you put them.
Prop open a window on a sunny day
If you’re in a part of the world where the outside is more pleasant than the inside this time of year, let that good old fashioned fresh air into your home or office! Some older windows have trouble staying open, but with your trusty offline phone, you’ll let no summer breeze go to waste.
Tackle that FOMO
When you’re phone is offline, it’s easy to start thinking about all the activities that you’re likely missing out on. You might start imagining all the things your friends and family are almost certainly doing without you and how much fun they’re having.
Don’t panic. What you’re experiencing is classic fear of missing out (FOMO).
Your friends and family are almost certainly having buckets of fun without you.
There is currently no known cure to FOMO, which is not yet classified by the World Health Organization as an actual disease. However, spry mental gymnastics can get you back in good spirits in no time. The Oatmeal recommends converting FOMO into “JOMO,” the joy of missing out.
Alternatively, we’ve found napping is a good countermeasure because it’s impossible to fear anything while asleep. Unless you’re prone to sleep paralysis, in which case it’s perfectly natural to fear the demon in the corner of your room.
Talk to a stranger
Many of us were raised to “Not talk to strangers,” but you’re, what, 22 now? 30? 57? Time to ditch “Stranger Danger” and strike up a delightful conversation with someone you’ve never met.
Strangers are almost everywhere, but most of them are located outside of your home. That means you’ll probably have to leave or order pizza delivery to find one.
Strangers are almost everywhere, but most of them are located outside of your home.
Once you’ve identified your stranger, you’ll need an icebreaker question to get the conversation flowing. We recommend softballs like “What is your deepest regret?” or “Do you suffer from any gastrointestinal conditions that complicate your day-to-day?”
After you get the conversational ball rolling, let your natural charisma guide the conversation like the savvy social Sisyphus you know you are.
Remember: strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. Or dangerously unpredictable sociopaths. Or both!
Play bocce ball
Bocce is a lawn game with roots in Ancient Rome, a time when most phones were offline. As such, it’s a perfect activity for the typical offline user.
To play, you’ll of course need a set of bocce balls. A solid set will likely run you between $30 and $40. If you find yourself looking at a $70 or more price tag, you’re likely overpaying. We recommend springing for a soft carrying case.
Bocce can be played by two to four people, and involves throwing heavy balls at each other.
The game is over when a team reaches 12 points
Start by having one team toss out the smaller “jack” ball, which is usually white. This is called “delivering the jack.” The team that delivers the jack also makes the first bocce throw.
The goal is to get your bocce closer to the jack than your opponent(s). After each team makes an initial throw, the team with a ball closest to the jack gets to throw all of their remaining bocci balls in succession. After their balls are thrown, the team with a ball next-closest to the jack throws the rest of their bocci balls, and so on.
Remember, it’s completely legal to hit the jack with a bocce ball. This can radically change a round by moving the nucleus of play away from players who have already made their throws.
Once all the balls are thrown, determine which team has a bocce ball closest to the jack. Only that team will score points this round, and any other teams receive no points.
Tallying points is simple. If your ball is closest to the jack, you get a point for each bocce ball that is closer to the jack than the next-closest bocce ball that doesn’t belong to you. If one of your balls is physically touching the jack at the end of a round, this is called a “kiss” or “baci” and worth two points.
Once points are tallied, the bocce balls are collected and the winning team delivers the jack to start the next round.
The game is over when a team reaches 12 points. However, if you’re losing when a team reaches 12 points, you can insist that the game last to either 15 or 21 points to keep your ego intact.
With all the fun you’re having now, memes and emails are probably the furthest thing from your mind!
Contemplate the heat death of the universe
Remember, the inexorable expansion of the universe will eventually isolate our galaxy within a causally disconnected void. The remaining stars will collapse and fizzle, replaced by a bleak abyss choked with black holes and increasingly inert interstellar gas.
With no way to inject more energy into this closed system, all life will go the way of Motorola. Eventually, even black holes will leak their energy via Hawking radiation over millennia, shrinking and ultimately evaporating completely.
Considering the magnitude and inevitability of this slide into mindless entropy doesn’t have any practical use, but you might dwell on your comparative insignificance and transience long enough for your phone to find a network connection again.
Prank your friends
In the hit Willy Wonka movies, poor Charlie Bucket found a golden ticket concealed beneath the wrapper of his coveted Wonka Bar. We don’t recommend storing gold next to chocolate — heavy metal poisoning is a serious condition with myriad symptoms that can take years to manifest. However, you could conceal your phone in a repurposed wrapper to the surprise and delight of your friends.
For instance, a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 fits nicely inside a “king size” Hershey’s Gold Peanuts & Pretzels bar. Imagine your friend’s surprise when, instead of caramel creme surrounding a salty crunch, they find a practically unusable smartphone. You got ’em! A regular Jack Vale, you are.
The best part: you get to eat the candy ahead of time.
- You’ll want to use a very mild glue to reattach the packaging after you carefully open it. We recommend eyelash glue, which adheres unobtrusively to cellophane and is easy to clean if any gets on your phone. Apply with included brush, hold in place for 30 seconds, and leave it for an hour to fully set.
- Don’t forget to ask for your phone back. It’s expensive.
- Intervene if your friend actually attempts to eat the device.
Learn how to play the guitar
All that time you’ve been Redditing or looking at your friends’ vacation pictures could have been spent developing a skill! Now that those distractions are no longer an option, it’s time to dust off that old Fender you borrowed from your brother three years ago and learn an E chord.
You’d be surprised by the progress you can make by just devoting 30 minutes per day to an activity. It only takes about that long to learn all the main chords in a single sitting, but you’ll have to wait on muscle memory to kick in before you can switch between them naturally.
The key here is consistency. Set aside a time every day, and get to strumming.
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We actually recommend learning on an electric guitar rather than acoustic. The reasoning here is that finger-positioning is of the utmost importance, and practicing that over and over again will annoy the hell out of your roommate, dog, neighbor, or dad if you’re using an acoustic. Electric guitars without an amp are quiet, but you can still hear if you’re hitting the chords correctly.
Learn your chords, then work through Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash over and over again while lying on the couch and binge-watching Altered Carbon on Netflix.
Make a list of your accomplishments
Lists aren’t just for things to do, they can also be for things you’ve done!
While your phone is offline, set aside a few moments to take stock of your life. What have you done with it? Are you happy with where you are? Are you in a better situation now than last year? Have you watched all of Altered Carbon yet? It’s pretty good.
Make a list of all the things you’re proud of having accomplished by your age. Whatever you do, don’t go to the Museum of Conceptual Art “Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age” page and enter your age.
Don’t do it.
Face crippling introspection
Revisit the list you just made.
What have you really done with your life? Are you really happy with where you are? Are you really in a better situation now than last year?
How many days have you squandered? How many valuable relationships have you let slip away? What would have happened if you actually went in for that kiss when you were terrified to make the first move in high school?
What did you want to be when you grew up? What are you doing now?
Are you happy with your BMI? What about your credit score? Is your degree really worth the debt you’re in? When’s the last time you remember not being stressed out of your mind?
Borrow a friend’s phone
Remember, not all networks are created equal. If you have friends, some of their phones might still work even if yours is currently offline. If the situation becomes too dire, don’t forget that even heroes ask for help from time to time. Get your mobile fix by asking to borrow your buddy’s device.
If you don’t have any friends, refer back to our entry about strangers.
There you have it! Now you’ll never have to worry about what to do when your phone is offline ever again. If you’re feeling particularly canny, go ahead and download this article so you can access it even when you’re offline.
If you know someone currently suffering from an offline phone, share this with them. They won’t see it, of course, but it’s the thought that counts.
Share this with a friend who is frequently offline. They won't see it, but it's the thought that counts
These are our favorites, but we’d love to hear from you too! What do you do when your phone is offline? Give us your best in the comments!