“Just warning you, I won’t have my phone with me tomorrow.”
These are a few of the last words I sent my mother before starting an experiment where I left my cell phone on my desk for 34 hours, untouched.
I did not do it for the sake of being anti-social. I really just wanted to be unplugged. I more or less wanted to grip onto the nostalgic idea of not having to answer to anyone who was not directly in front of me, or at least willing to go through hurdles to reach me. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could go a whole day without texting. So I hid my phone away in the desk at midnight on Tuesday and did not touch it again until Thursday morning.
AND I SURVIVED.
My friends hardly noticed I had gone without my cell phone. They saw me in class and on campus and conversed with me. They kept their noses aimed at bright phone screens during lunch while I looked around the room feeling a bit agitated. This was probably the hardest time of the day for me. My friends seemed to be in a completely different dimension.
Throughout the day I wrote down reminders on my hand that would have normally gone into the ‘reminders’ application on my phone. This turned into more of a game to see how many things I could obnoxiously write on my skin. I even made a note to refrain from checking my phone.
I think it’s difficult for us Millenials to disconnect from our devices, especially in a campus environment because they make our lives easier and faster. We use our phones to make sure we get to class on time, to remind us when assignments are due, to text professors, employers, and classmates instead of visiting them in person. We also use our phones, laptops and tablets to stay social at all times without any human interaction. If we go too long without posting on social media, our friends start to forget about us. We make ourselves available every hour of the day, because we are expected to give quick responses to inquiries through technology.
Is it because we are afraid of missing something or because we feel the need to be included 24/7? Are we just simply drawn to our devices because it is the norm? What would life be like if none of my friends had access to cell phones? Would we all interact differently? These are all questions I asked myself during my free moments, which I seemed to have a lot of without my cell phone at hand.
What I learned from this experiment was that cell phones are great for avoiding the things that we should be doing. What I seemed to miss the most was being able to fill down time with social media when I got bored. I was more productive because I had nothing to distract me from homework and meetings. I also gathered that making ourselves constantly available through technology is a form of people pleasing. We hope to be there for people as often as possible, and technology makes it easier to do.
After doing this experiment, I’ve actually started leaving my phone in my room as a habit. I also deleted my most used social media app, Snapchat, all in an effort to overcome my phone and social media addiction. After doing this for most of the fall semester, I now quite enjoy going without my phone. Not having it helps my brain focus on the tasks at hand, rather than constantly wanting to check to see if I received a notification.
Here’s a video I made asking two of my friends their thoughts on social media, and if they think it is effecting their brains.