I decided to undertake a project in the name of investigative journalism. I knew this assignment would be a daunting task, as it would put a lot of pressure on me physically, mentally and emotionally. However, I knew I had to do it to let future generations know what it was like to not stare at a screen all day. I enthusiastically jumped into the task full-steam ahead. I put my phone on airplane mode for three days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Oh, the horror! This seems like such a crazy idea in today’s digital age. It’s hard to believe that under 10 years ago I didn’t even have a phone and I was calling my friends’ home phones to make plans. Now, I don’t even have to call them to make plans. If I’m being especially lazy, I can just slide into their SnapChat DMs.
There are all sorts of social media detoxes out there these days for people who want to retreat to the good old days of face-to-face interaction. This got me thinking; if we need a detox from our phones and social media, are these things really good for us at all? iPhones are becoming sort of like work for us; once in awhile, we need a vacation from them to make us feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Taking a break from mindlessly scrolling on my phone for a couple days helped me come to some important realizations that I hope will inspire you to detox in the future.
So much of my life depends on my phone.
Ok, so I cheated a little during this assignment. While putting your phone on airplane mode automatically disables Wi-Fi, you can turn Wi-Fi back on if it is available. Because I have a job managing social media accounts, and I knew that I was waiting to hear back from some summer jobs, I kept my Wi-Fi on. I happened to be home for Easter break during this experiment, so I was easily able to respond to people if they texted me while I was in my house with Wi-Fi. However, this got me thinking: most of my life depends on my phone. I literally get paid to post things on social media. If this was ten years ago and I was waiting to hear back from a summer job, they would call me on my home phone and leave a message, waiting for my reply. Now employers expect instant gratification. The career path that I’m heading towards would be completely different if the human race did not use iPhones.
I scroll through social media way too often.
Once I eliminated the possibility of mindlessly scrolling through social media, I realized that I do this way too often, especially when I am home from college. During the day at school, I am preoccupied by class, work and studying. However, when I’m at home bored in my room, I will turn to scrolling on social media instead of watching a movie, going for a walk or reading a book. Hours of my day are consumed by looking at pictures and reading Tweets.
We need to MOVE more.
I wouldn’t say I’m out of shape, but I could definitely use a little more daily physical activity. I have a pretty packed schedule that includes going to class, heading to work, dance practice…and then going home to sit on my phone in bed. Yes, I know dance practice is physical activity. But on the days I don’t have dance, I will still resort to scrolling on my phone instead of walking or going to the gym. The iPhone generation has become one that is used to lazing around instead of getting up and moving, when exercise really makes us feel so much better once we make ourselves do it.
I love nature.
Think of the last time you sat outside on a warm, beautiful day. Now remember: did you have your iPhone in your hand? Were you scrolling on FaceBook? Most likely, the answer will be yes. As I was sitting in the sun on a lovely spring day in my backyard, not doing anything but relaxing, I realized how nice it is to simply just be in nature.
I read books before going to bed like I was in second grade again.
When I was in elementary school, I was a bona fide bookworm. I would sometimes have two or three books at a time on my nightstand and read every night before I went to bed. Obviously, this got difficult once I hit high school because any student knows how hard it is to read for pleasure and read schoolbooks at the same time. Ever since high school, I will wait until summer to check out the books on my reading list. However, during my three day detox I realized that before I go to bed, I will spend a half hour scrolling on social media. What if I started to spend that half hour reading a book, like the good old days? I immediately picked up I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, a book that I have been meaning to read for years.
A cell phone was first defined as a device that you could call and text on. However, it has developed into something so much more since the emergence of social media. Cell phones have become a way for connection, art and for some people, a job. While iPhones and social media can definitely be used for good, I encourage everyone to occasionally take a detox. There is a lot of life going on away from the screen.