By Ben Spicer–
At the start of October, I decided to do the unthinkable: I was going to go an entire month without using my cell phone or social media. I conducted the experiment to see how it would impact myself and my personal relationships. Overall, the results were rather surprising.
As a millennial, I’ve watched cell phones and social media become an enormous part of the world around me. I remember the days of flip phones, where accessing the internet on your phone would cost you a small fortune on your bill. I can also remember the beginning phases of social media and wasting countless and pointless hours updating my MySpace profile.
Whether we care to admit it, cell phones and social media have overtaken our lives. We’re now watching as this technology continues to grow among the generation before us. The Pew Research Center conducted a shocking study that found that 88 percent of teens aged 13-17 have a cellphone and 73 percent have smartphones.
This has changed various aspects of our lives. Personally, it provides me with different way of communicating. It allows me access to a plethora of news sources and breaking news on the go, straight from my cell phone. It lets me keep in touch with friends and family by typing out a message and sending it instantly. All features we have become accustomed to, but are these features becoming a hindrance to our everyday lives?
When I began my experiment I fully expected to be having technology withdrawals. How will I stay in touch with the world? Would I have to listen to the radio?
It was a huge change. I had to write letters to my family members instead of simply calling them and I was forced to find other ways to keep track of even the most mundane of things like what time it was. I also had to find other ways of keeping myself entertained and occupied.
Although it was rough at first, I found the change to be pretty significant. After a while I was even paying more attention in my classes and no longer checking my phone underneath my desk every five minutes.
What followed next was an increase in my study habits. My cell phone and social media usage were a constant disruption for me when I tried to study. The previous temptation to check my Facebook notifications usually diverted me down a whole different road and had me completely ignoring my studying.
Another aspect that I thought improved drastically was my interpersonal relationships. My girlfriend spent much of the month without a phone, too. Our conversations improved and we spent more time together because we were not distracted by who was tweeting us. I even found that I was genuinely more interested in conversation with others because I didn’t have to deal with the distraction of my cell phone buzzing in my pocket.
Of course, there were some negatives every now and then as well. I missed several classes and overslept for work because I didn’t have the glorious iPhone alarm to wake me up. I even found myself stuck in traffic a few times because I didn’t have apps to tell me what roads to avoid. Unfortunately I even started missing out on all of the drama and fights on Facebook, which had become a true pastime of mine.
Still, the change I saw in myself was exponential. I’ve had a phone for over two weeks now, and I’m already reverting back to my old habits. I’ve lost my attention span once more, and have gotten sucked back in to the dark world of social media.
While there’s no doubt that the month I spent without a phone and social media was refreshing, it was hard nonetheless. As crazy as it sounds, I had absolutely no contact with the majority of my friends for an entire month. If I wanted to call my mom, I was reduced to writing her and awaiting her response.
As sad as it may be, cell phones and social media are ingrained in our everyday lives. They’ve become a part of who we are as a society, and that’s simply not going to change any time soon. The month I spent without this technology opened my eyes to a lot of positives, but similarly brought about many negatives. I think for many members of our society today, this technology fast would be almost impossible.
But hey I did it, could you?