NYC woman seeks to go a year without a smartphone (for $100K)

For the sixth day in a row, Elana Mugdan's smartphone sits locked inside a Vitamin Water-branded plastic talking cage in her living room.

"We find your cell phone guilty of disruptions, interruptions, and distractions," the cage chirps when you press a button. "Lock it up!"

"Everybody who's close to me knows I have a contentious love-hate relationship with my smartphone," Mugdan said.

In December, three of the everybody who knows Mugdan sent her a link she probably opened on her smartphone to a Vitamin Water contest awarding its winner the chance to collect $100,000 if that person could go an entire year not using their smartphone.

"The idea for the infomercial just came to me basically right out the gate," Mugdan said.

Vitamin Water chose Mugdan's "No-Phone" infomercial from more than 100,000 entrees, it says, in an attempt to demonstrate how we all ought to resist the monotony of scrolling, the same way Vitamin Water resists the monotony of bottled water.

The Coca-Cola-owned beverage company provided Mugdan with a flip phone on which, she admits, she's so far struggled to text.

"It makes calls really well," Mugdan said.

Without the ability to cycle through apps, Mugdan hopes to spend more time seeing friends and family in person.

"I thought it was OK to like statuses or like tweets instead of talking to people," she said.

She also hopes to finish her five-book, young adult fantasy series. And if she succeeds in not using a smartphone for a full year, Mugden plans to invest her winnings in her writing career.

"I have never been financially stable or financially independent," she said.

Not yet a week into the challenge on the day we met her, Mugden said she already realized that before, she'd substituted her phone for human interaction. Mugden said she hoped come day 366 she could find a healthier balance of time on her phone and time in the world around her.

"I fell into some really destructive habits with the phone and I don't want to go back," she said.

As of Wednesday, Mugden's phone had 360 days remaining on its sentence.