Give up your phones! (after finals)

By Sebastian Moronta, Staff Writer

Last week, my phone broke. It wouldn’t even turn on, and after a quick visit to the AT&T store and then the cell phone repair shop in the mall, I was left without a phone, for at least the week while it was being sent out and repaired. We’ve all heard the same criticisms from older folks saying we millennials spend too much time on our phones and should just put them down for once, well I did. Here’s my experience.

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge just what function our phones have in our daily lives. It is not, as older folks sometimes assume, our only interaction with the internet. It accounts for a lot of it, but there’s little you can access on a phone that you can’t on a computer. It’s not our only way of communicating, as I learned having to do all my communicating via Facebook messenger or e-mail. No, our phones have a different function: they make us immediately accessible.

Our phones, sitting in our pockets ready to ring at any moment, make us reachable everywhere we go, and that makes communication and getting things done much faster. Take that away, and now your productivity is only as good as your response rate, which depends on how often you can get in front of a computer, sign in, check messages and e-mails, and reply.

Productivity is important around this time of year, when term projects are nearing due dates, and finals are around the corner. Losing instant communication seemed like the worst thing to happen while you have three group projects to plan and meet for, and to an extent that was true.

Shutting down my computer to go to class or get food meant I was inaccessible until I turned it on again, which severely slowed progress.

That being said, giving up my phone has been eye-opening. What I noticed the most were the little things.

Whenever I would find myself with a few free minutes, be it waiting for a class to start, standing in line for food, I felt lost. I felt like I should’ve been doing something, scrolling through something, instead of just standing there. Without my phone I looked around, out the window at the gorgeous orange and red hues of the stubborn leaves yet to fall for the winter, something I rarely took the time out of my day to appreciate.

I noticed more. In my semi-daily elevator trip with one of my classmates, I noticed for the first time that we owned the same pair of shoes. He’d owned that pair for months, and wore them all the time, but I’d never noticed because I was always looking at my phone in the elevator. I engaged more with people around me. Instead of scrolling through Twitter before my class started, I leaned to my closest classmate and had a chat.

The biggest difference, and the one that surprised me the most, was how stressed I used to be, but wasn’t.

All the small stress-inducers, like the lingering notification bubble on an app or your battery percentage, were suddenly off my mind. I didn’t worry about them, and was able to more clearly focus on whatever it was that I was doing, important or not.

I don’t think I would’ve had the same experience if I had a phone and had chosen not to use or look at it, I don’t think I would’ve been as free from the stress. At the same time, I think my experience would have been far better if this had happened to me any week except the one right before finals.

Letting go of your smartphone can be an extremely refreshing experience for anyone, regardless of how much you think you need it.

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