Millennials are taking over the world one step at a time. Many are becoming CEOs, directors, authors, and everything else that once seemed like a stretch for anyone under 30. In these technologically advanced times, we can thank our personal devices for assisting in this achievement. It simply would not be possible for someone to create an app without the gadget to accompany it. Whether it's tutorials, resources, or online support groups providing a safe haven for teens, our devices have proven to be an immense help to our lives. But are they really a necessity?
I decided to take that question into my own hands. For one week, I removed all personal electronics from my life. No cell phone, no laptop, no television, no life. Now, to make myself perfectly clear, I couldn't avoid some devices. I still had to use the computers at my workplace, and I couldn’t cut out landlines in case of emergencies, so I just removed the devices used for personal use.
While doing this experiment, I discovered the many pros and cons that came with taking away the one thing that was constantly at my fingertips: technology. By doing this, I not only uncovered the ways that we use the devices, but how they use us. At approximately 10:45 p.m. on March 2, I turned off my phone, put away my laptop, and removed my attention from the television.
I quickly found that some of the things our parents tell us about technology are true. The biggest one that I personally dealt with was them always saying that I would sleep better without taking my phone to bed. Being a teenager, I blew this off, thinking they were just trying to find a way to get me to let go of my phone for more than 20 minutes. Much to my surprise, my parents were right. (I will deny this to them if they ask, so let’s hope they aren’t reading.) A lot of us go to bed tired yet stay awake to do whatever on our phones. To this I say: Put down your phone and go to sleep — you can catch up with the world in the morning.
Now, this next part is crucial for all the parents who are reading this: Do not blame the phone for your kids not cleaning their rooms. When I got the idea to try this out, I thought that I would no longer be distracted and finally clean my room — which was not the case at all. Teenagers will do anything to get out of cleaning their rooms. I, for instance, counted the stripes on my plaid shirt. As teenagers, not only do we hate authority, but we also hate the thought of doing anything responsible. We are going to be messy, but don't worry — you only have to deal with it for a few more years.
As an aspiring writer, reading has always been a part of my life, but this is yet another thing that I had let technology distract me from. Whenever I tried to read, a text would distract me; then the text became a tweet, and then the tweet became binge-watching Fuller House for the third time since its release less than a month ago. Once I removed devices from the equation, I read an entire book from start to finish on my first full day sans technology.
The hardest part of this experiment, however, was not having music. When I purchased my iPhone, I made sure to get the 64GB model to fit all 1,300-something songs that I have on my computer. I listen to music all day long, and I refuse to stop. I am the type of person who makes playlists for every occasion. Yes, that includes showering. Showers without music are as pointless as showering without body wash. But, I do have to admit, my shower time was cut in half without music, so I guess I helped the environment. Music is also a great way to get through chores. I find that having a little jam session while doing the dishes makes it so much more enjoyable; having to do it without music just seemed like a shitty punishment.
Although I had some pretty awful revelations this week, I would be lying if I said it was all bad. Normally, I immediately check all of my social media platforms when I wake up — Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, and my email account. Before I cut myself off, I had no clue how much time I spent on these apps. When getting up for work during my experiment, I soon realized that I had an extra 45 minutes of sleep without having to check all of my accounts. This is when I realized that the phone was controlling me. I also need to acknowledge that my bank account was looking a lot better, being that I could no longer shop online. (Experiment having ended, I can no longer say that it's looking so great.)
I realized that our devices provide us with basic tools that help in our everyday lives. I, along with most of my generation, would be lost without my calculator app, because basic math is not a friend of mine. I also never realized how much I depend upon the Notes section on my iPhone to jot things down that I need to remember later on, or to make a shopping list for when I go to the store.
I have personally discovered that although I can’t live without my phone, I also need to put it down sometimes. Swap out a Netflix marathon for a chance to talk to your family. Instead of texting your friends, meet up and do something more entertaining. Don’t get to the point where human interaction is something unfamiliar. Stop stressing over whether the person you want to talk to will reply, and take in the fact that you don’t have to respond to the one who won’t leave you alone. Once you finish this article, go out and raise some hell. You’ll be surprised at how good of a time you can have without a screen 5 inches from your face.
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