“Siri, can society live without you?” If our answer is “no,” I believe we have a serious problem on our hands… literally.
Recently I was given the opportunity in my communication theory class to participate in a two-day challenge of being phone free. I was confident that this was a doable task, so without hesitation, I committed to this experience. The thought of being freed from the distraction of my phone was convincing enough to me.
Prior to this experience, I felt I had an established awareness of how much we, as a society, use our phones for means of gratification. Only nine out of 27 students in my class were willing to participate, which further made me acknowledge the technological reliance many students exhibit. I was intrigued and excited because this was my opportunity to see where I truly fell on the spectrum.
Throughout this year, I have been following the screen time data that my phone collects and working to limit my phone usage. I was shown where my true priorities needed to be and in following through on these tasks, my phone usage decreased.
All of this intentional thought and effort finally led to the true test of taking action by locking my phone away. In those 48 hours, I made substitutions for normal functions that I would have normally accessed with my phone. For my alarm, I found an old watch to set and even set a backup timer on my microwave. When it came to driving, I relied on my memory and passengers instead of my GPS, realizing that I really only used my phone’s directions out of convenience. The same idea applied to keeping up with my schedule. I have all of my daily information programmed into my phone’s calendar and because of that, I was nervous that I would forget an assignment or meeting. However, I found that if I simply relied on my memory, I was capable of managing my time and accomplishing my tasks. As for not having access to my phone’s camera, I quickly realized that what I was looking to take a picture of was unnecessary. This feeling reminded me to be present and look to capture those moments through my own eyes, not through a screen.
Yes, I was thrown some unexpected challenges, but ultimately I felt relieved without a phone. I felt less distracted, less pressure and more energy. I was a better version of myself without my phone attached to my hip, and I recognized the degree to which people are glued to their phones. I faced no problem eliminating access to entertainment, social media and communication, and easily compensated in finding other ways to feel gratification. Overall, I was a better communicator, better student and more energized without a phone weighing my pocket down.
If you were called to be phone free, would you answer your phone? Or would you confidently let it go to voicemail?