It was no Walden Pond, but my week without a phone has opened my eyes to not only the negative aspects of technology, but also its multiple useful qualities. Now, I can see my phone as a functional and helpful (and often times simply entertaining) technological tool rather than a mode of connection to those around me, a good view to have on a piece of technology that has such a ubiquitous presence in modern society.
I shut my phone off last night at 11. Looking at the words “slide to power off,” I got slightly stressed and pathetically checked Instagram one more time. I haven’t had the feeling that I need to check my phone; I would characterize it more as a craving in a weird way. I find myself weirdly looking forward to volleyball practice later because I can find out from my friends what I’ve missed. Is this an early sign of desperation setting in? I’m not sure.
I’ve been too busy to be on my phone at all today. I do, however, want to check my messages because I hate missing texts and not being able to reply to them. Also, when I think of a witty comment that I want to tell to my friends, I can’t tell them because usually what I have to say would be unworthy and probably kind of weird for a special phone call.
Today, I’ve just found other ways to be distracted. The time I spent on my phone after school wasn’t actually due to an “addiction” to it, as my parents would say, but because it was an opportunity for me to do nothing, and after school I’m so sick of thinking that I just want to do absolutely nothing. My parents told me tonight that they think I’m more “conversational and loving” now that I can’t use my phone. I don’t see much of a change in my personality, but I think I have been more talkative with my family than I typically would be.
Today’s newest outlets for distraction included reading various New York Times articles and watching old SNL episodes. At this point it’s just a hassle to not have my phone as a mode of communication and discussion. I feel bad that my parents are worried about my whereabouts; they text my friends if they’re wondering when I’ll be home. On the plus side, I do think I’m more involved in everyday conversation. I find myself talking more to my family and friends, even though my phone limits the possibility of talking with them through text. In other news, I transitioned to emailing my friends rather than texting them. A quote from one of my emailing companions sums up this unconventional mode of friendly communication: “The homely misunderstandings and miscommunications of email are so candid and sincere. I love it.” Relatable, right???
Today, I found myself frustrated by the lack of a phone at the most random times. There are some instances I just really want to use my phone, like when I get out of practice or when I’m leaving certain classes. It has become an impulse for me to check my phone after short periods of time when I’ve been away from it. This, in turn, has led me to start examining the role of my phone as a social crutch. It’s oddly alarming to me that I use my phone in awkward situations when I don’t have anything to say or I don’t feel like talking. Specifically, when I’m at lunch, the people around me are using their phones and in certain situations I instinctively want to use mine, only because that’s what everyone else is doing.
Today has been the hardest day by far without my phone, because after school on Friday I literally just go home and use my phone for an hour or so because I don’t have to do any homework and I’m typically too tired to physically stand up. I’m so stressed that I’m going to miss what my friends are planning on doing tonight that I emailed them. [I thought about actually giving them a phone call, but I’m not sure we’re ready for that kind of commitment yet, if you know what I mean.]
When I got my phone back this morning, I had hundreds of text messages to catch up on and spent roughly 45 minutes skimming through photos I missed on Instagram. I guess even Twitter recognized my extended absence, kindly filling me in on “what I missed while I was away.” It’s a relief to be able to text my parents when I need to. And of course I’m happy that I can text my friends again. However, looking back on the week as a whole, I can’t say I missed social media. There’s something refreshing about not having that compulsive need to hit refresh. And so I think the main thing I’ve learned this week is that I’m not really that dependent on my phone. In fact, I think in general this has been a really enjoyable experience. I could definitely see another technology detox in my future, when I really need one. Just not right now.