5 things I learned when I turned my phone off for 6 hours
My alarm went off at 7am on a Saturday. I reached for my phone, just like every morning, since I normally take the first few minutes of my day to catch up on the things I missed through the night. But this particular Saturday morning was different. Instead of opening Twitter or Facebook or answering the text messages I had received, I turned off my phone. Like we’re not just talking “locking” my phone here— I full on held down the power button and shut it completely off for the next 6 hours. Not only did I turn off my phone, I stayed away from all technology, including television, my laptop, and even the radio. No music. No talking heads. No Netflix. And surprisingly, I learned a great deal about technology, even if it was for only 6 hours:
1. Entertainment exists outside of technology.
Social media, TV shows, and podcasts lend us a great deal of entertainment. We can watch a dramatic show on Netflix, retweet a funny GIF on Twitter, or enjoy a witty talk show host, all at the touch of a button. But what I found during my 6 hour sabbatical from technology is that entertainment is all around us — and it comes in many different ways. For instance, I experienced by Dad’s “dad jokes” in a new light. I am the kind of person who practically sits and waits for my dad to make a dad joke so I can Tweet it. That’s selfish. But without my technology, I was able to enjoy the quirky things my dad says and appreciate his personality, without constantly thinking about I can get this on my Snapchat story or Tweeting a funny quote.
2. There is more to life than Twitter.
As stated above, I love social media. But what I learned from intentionally avoiding technology was that there are people all around us who have exciting news to share. There are people all around us who need a friend. There are people all around us who are dealing with major issues in their lives. If we have our noses stuck in our phones all day long, how are we to realize this? It’s okay to enjoy technology, but not at the expense of building relationships with the people around us.
3. You can live without Google.
Although I was not using technology for the first six hours of the day, I really needed to work on some homework. So I sat down to hand-write a paper (I now have a new respect for those who grew up without computers) for my Ethics class. Throughout my writing session, there were several things I wanted to search on Google. But since I couldn’t do that, I looked things up in different books and I found the answers I needed without even having to search Google or ask Siri! It was so empowering. While I do believe these tools are extremely convenient and helpful, they are not always necessary.
4. Laziness is for losers.
Speaking of Google and Siri, if you ask Siri how hot it is outside instead of taking 10 seconds to step outside and see for yourself, you are exactly like me. How lazy is that?! On this particular day, however, I actually had to go outside to see how hot it was to determine what I should wear that day. When I stepped outside and felt the nice breeze, I realized how lazy our devices can make us. Now I realize we live in a convenience-driven society and the technology that has been developed to enhance convenience is absolutely astounding; however, let’s not allow these amazing tools we have to make us lazy bums who only get off the couch when we have to go somewhere.
5. Technology tells us what to think about.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a politically-minded person. I enjoy discussing politics and I am border-line obsessed with keeping current on the news. But probably the most amazing thing I noticed after I started using my technology again was that I didn’t have a single political thought during the entire 6 hours. And then I realized how social media and my news apps influence what I think about. This speaks to the information age that we are so used to. We often don’t realize how the news media uses different outlets to remind us of the political issues that are going on in our country. This should encourage us to dig deeper than just the articles we read on Twitter — we should be looking for ways to completely understand these particular issues, without the opinion pieces that the Internet is flooded with.
As I said above, technology is an important and amazing tool. But that is all technology is — a tool. So next time you find yourself in an environment that every person around you is distracted by their phones, be the person to turn off your phone, engage someone in a conversation, and live in the moment. It will change your entire perspective.