In the event of a technological apocalypse, we are all going to die.
I recently decided to turn off my phone for five days: no social media, no text messages, nothing. I was curious to see not only how dependent I had become on technology, but also how I would react to life without this contemporary necessity.
I set a few ground rules for my experiment: the only forms of technology that I allowed myself were my laptop (only for school), my landline (thank the Lord we still have a house phone) and Netflix in case of random mental breakdowns.
The first couple of days were an emotional rollercoaster. I was convinced that I was going to die. I found myself having mini panic attacks looking for my phone followed by major sighs of relief when I remembered my crazy technology-free experiment.
Without my phone, I couldn’t escape those inevitable awkward silent moments sitting next to someone I didn’t know. I kept making eye contact with random people in passing. I felt like I needed my phone, but I really just needed to figure out how to occupy my spare time.
After ruling out binge-watching “The Office” for the fifth time that week, I decided to be productive. I was going to play outside with my dog, go to the park, read, work on homework (shocker), clean (another shocker) and possibly strike up a conversation with my parents.
About midweek, I began to see changes in my life that I wasn’t expecting; I started to get comfortable in my non-digital, awkward life.
Often we try to escape reality through social media. We quickly reach for our phones to avoid what have become awkward moments of silence. We escape our own lives for the (often) fake lives on social media. We get online and compare ourselves to others.
During my week without my phone or social media, this was not the case. Instead of comparing my life to anyone else’s digital life, I truly enjoyed mine for the week.
As the week went on, the frantic pat-downs stopped, and I became less dependent on my phone. On Thursday, I noticed that more than half of the students in my 8 a.m. class had their phones out on the tables while our professor was lecturing; they couldn’t even go the full hour and 15 minutes without their phones nearby. At the end of class, almost everyone immediately reached for their phones to rejoin a false social life. Phones have transformed into appendages; they are not just objects used to send and receive data, they have become an integral part of the human experience.
Technology and social media do have their benefits. Our phones allow us to contact people in emergencies, and social media allows us to keep up with old friends. However, after going phone-free for five days, I’ve become aware of the negative effects cell phones have on society.
Instead of enjoying the life that we have before us, we live life through social media and Snapchat stories. Instead of being productive, we play games on our phones or scroll aimlessly through social media. Instead of being independent, we have become dependent on an electronic screen and digital social lives. Don’t get me wrong, phones and social media have their place, but we need to learn when to put them down to enjoy life for what it is.
Perhaps a technological apocalypse wouldn’t kill us. We might just learn how to interact with each other, how to overcome awkward moments, how to get out of the house, how to problem-solve and how to truly enjoy our awkward, non-digital lives.