Disconnected for the Day

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After reading Emma’s post about how constantly having your cell phone by your side gives you a false sense of security, I was inspired to spend the rest of my day without my phone (okay I gave in and checked it every few hours just in case I had any important messages…but that was it). I’m addicted to my phone and constantly check iMessage, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Email, GroupMe, etc. Not allowing myself to act on my impulse to check my phone every 10 minutes was brutal. Very brutal. Nonetheless, I stuck to the challenge and here are some things I’ve learned from it:

1. I rely on my cell phone way more than I realized.

Without my phone, the only phone numbers I know off the top of my head are my mom’s, dad’s and siblings’. And I can think of many scenarios where things could go wrong because of this. For example, if I didn’t have my phone on me and my car were to run out of gas, leaving me stranded somewhere on the streets of Chapel Hill, then I would be screwed because (1) it wouldn’t be much help calling my family in Nashville and (2) even if I managed to get hold of a phone I wouldn’t be able to call any of my friends for help.

Also, I have a terrible sense of direction. I rely on my Maps app to get me most anywhere. But today when I got in my car, I braved out onto the streets of Chapel Hill with no phone and my poor directional skills and prayed that I could get to where I was going. On my drive, I found myself paying much more attention to street names, road signs and scenery around me. If I had been too busy staring at my GPS I might have never noticed that quaint Chinese restaurant I drove by (and fully intend to try out later this week), or I could have gotten in an accident. Which brings me to my second point…

2. I’m not as in touch with my surroundings as I could be.

I agree with Emma’s thought that, “being in touch with the Internet may actually be doing more harm than good” because it can make people become out of touch with reality. Some argue that technology (especially cell phones) has ruined communication (especially among Millennials). We’ve all seen it: a group of friends sitting around a table, and no one is talking. Why? Because everyone’s eyes are glued to their phone screens. Instead of conversing with the people around them, their minds are wandering elsewhere in some other conversation or on some other social media site. I’m sad to admit that my friends and I have been guilty of doing this. So we made a rule that everyone had to put their phones face down on the center of the table until the meal was over (the rule: anyone who touched their phone before we got the check had to pay the bill). The change was instantly noticeable—everyone became more engaged in the conversation. This makes me think that we’ve become so used to the various screens in our lives that we don’t even realize when we’re missing out on the moment in front of us.

3. I waste so much time on my phone.

I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone. I love being connected: having the ability to contact someone instantly or quickly search something online, using my GPS app to keep from getting loss, playing games (S/O to Candy Crush and Trivia Crack) whenever I’m bored and being able to access any social media platform. I can fit all of this into the palm of my hand—it’s incredible yet terrible at the same time. There are so many better and/or more important things I could be doing with my time than wasting an hour trying to beat that impossible Candy Crush level (ie: this blog post). Today made me realize how exponentially more productive I can be when I’m not being constantly distracted by my cell phone. Most importantly, this little experiment made me realize the importance of taking some time every now and then to disconnect ourselves from our phones and reconnect with reality.

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