So, readers, when I tell you I’m a millennial in college, what stereotypes come to your head?
I’m sure there are plenty and that one of them are “addicted to technology/her cell phone.” And it’s safe to say, you are absolutely correct.
My phone seems to be attached my hand and is as important to my life as my beating heart is. I use it more than just the usual tech obsessed young adult because of keeping up with Sparkle and Shine.
I run a majority of my blog and continue to evolve my personal brand right from my phone. I have my blog-only business e-mail set up right on my phone, which allows me to send and receive e-mails right in the palm of my hands.
Plus, I even write parts of my posts on my phone. I have the WordPress app that allows me to write my posts — and even publish them right from there if I wanted. I often will sometimes type them up in an e-mail, or as a note, until I am 100% confident in the layout of the piece.
From there, my social media usage comes into play. A huge part of being a blogger is social media presence and I place a lot of emphasis on it. I need to not only be sharing my posts on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, but sometimes companies will only want posts on social media platforms. And to be successful on these, you need to monitor certain parts of your social media — like your Instagram theme, follower ratios, and more. This means having a whole folder on my phone of apps that allow me to edit my photos, check to see who is following/not following me, what links are doing the best, and more. It’s a folder I imagine the Kardashians had before they hit their peak of being THE social media First Family.
Plus, I have apps that I use as a college student for my school work. I have my school e-mail connected to my phone, as well as apps that allow me to check my grades and my class schedule.
But this doesn’t mean it’s all work and all play. My sorority little has me addicted to 2048, a mobile game I don’t think I will ever win (even though I spent more than half of my two hour commute on Monday/Friday trying to).
And none of that even equates to the apps I use to track the NYC subway, Metro North Train, check my bank account, or transfer money to my friends on SquareCash.
No wonder my phone tells me everyday my storage is almost full — am I right?
But the thing is, this is all pretty normal for today’s society.
A recent study says that mobile consumers spend almost three hours a day on their phones.
And from this, The Bored and Brilliant Project, from the WNYC podcast Note to Self, was born. I decided to participate in the project, to see how I can learn how to function without my phone and focus on my thoughts and the world around me, not my cell phone.
Here goes nothing…
DAY ONE: KEEP YOUR PHONE IN YOUR POCKET
In the podcast, someone said that they were going “on a phone binge” and even practicing to leave their phone on their desk. Though I don’t think I went on a phone binge (because I don’t think I could honestly even use it more than I do), I also did try to practice by leaving my phone when I didn’t need it. Did I need to be on it when I walk to class? Did I need it when I ran to the bathroom at work? Did I need to aimlessly scroll through my phone an hour before bed? No, no, and definitely no. So for my first challenge, I had to keep my phone in my pocket.
I completely couldn’t do this. I went to work on the train that morning, which is a two hour commute. At first, I was doing okay — I brought a new book to read, some case briefs to read for my 300 level law class, and even was going to nap. However, I couldn’t keep my hands off my phone. I needed to play 2048. I needed to text my best friend about the weird dream I had the night before. I needed to browse the latest items on Forever 21. I was able to put my phone away at certain points, like when I was walking to work or when I had to walk around the office. But I couldn’t turn off the notifications and couldn’t just ignore it. But it’s about baby steps-right?
DAY TWO: PHOTO FREE DAY
“See the world through your eyes, not your screen” was the words that were prompted when I was told that day two’s challenge was that I couldn’t take photos. I mean, yes, my phone is over flowing with so many pictures — screenshots of funny Tweets to send to my friends, a selfie from a coffee date with my little, blurry pictures before going out, just because it’s another day and I couldn’t resist how beautiful the sun looked- I’m constantly snapping pictures. However, I started by undownloading the Snapchat app — my biggest picture taking app.
However, nothing was really going on the day that I had this challenge. I had a lot of work to do, had a lot of meetings, and wasn’t going to be having much fun — minus Netflix and a glass of wine at the end of the night in my bed. So, I can safely say I successfully was able to complete this challenge! I went one whole day without taking a picture, but yes, it did feel a little weird and I was craving to redownload Snapchat, just like the second glass of wine craving. And just like I do with that second glass of wine craving, I caved.
DAY THREE: DELETE THAT APP
Someone who launches apps more than 60 times a day is an addict, according to the third podcast. Though I don’t think I have an addiction to any specific app, I definitely do have that one app that I find myself on…. Twitter.
I love Twitter. I don’t know what it is, but I love Twitter. I use it more than needed- finding time to refresh my feed, reading my own tweets, and constantly checking to see any new Cosmo/Thought Catalog/ Elite Daily/Seventeen Magazine articles that are posted. Oh, an article about Kylie Jenner’s beauty tips? Yup, need to check that out. Oh, an article about why life is better as a sorority girl? Definitely going to read and going to retweet. Oh, an article related to nothing I need to know and don’t care about, yet I’m still going to read it? Abso-freakin-lutely. I love it.
So, today, I deleted the app. And it was hard. At first, I decided I was going to use Instagram or Facebook or any other social media site to keep myself off of Twitter. But, I found myself trying to go back. So then, I deleted the app, and it felt like I deleted part of myself. Dramatic? Yes. Which was horrific that I actually felt this way. This is when I realized hey, maybe I actually overly use this app…
Was it successful? On my phone, yes, because the app was gone. But I would find myself typing “www.twitter.com” into my laptop and scrolling through more often than not. I wouldn’t even noticed. It just sort of happened.
Today, I would say it was 50/50 successful, but 100% successful of showing me that maybe I do use my phone a little too much.
And at midnight, as I laid in my bed planning out my next day, I redownloaded Twitter and didn’t look back.
DAY FOUR: TAKE A FAUXCATION
TIME FOR A FAUXCATION! I’m a little excited for this — a break from texting. Can I get an amen?!
A break from responding to everything from “hey, would you like to get lunch?” to “OMG I HAVE TO TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEKEND” to “Can you help me?”
Starting at noon, I gave it to my friend to keep in his room. I was out of class, phone-free, and was ready to focus on myself.
First, I went to the gym and brought my iPad to binge watch Gossip Girl on the elliptical. I went back to my room, showered, and took a nap. Now what?
I went on my computer, wrote a blog post, FaceTimed with my mom, and did a face mask. I focused on myself and was feeling like a brand new person. It was now 5 o’clock and Paul came back, handed me my phone, and said “Take this back. You’re getting too many text messages. It’s freaking me out that you’re not answering.”
And then I looked at my phone. Over 100 text message in 5 hours. Really? Some included multiples from different people — “why aren’t you answering?,” “HELLLLLLO,” and my personal favorite “I know you’ve been listening to Bieber’s new album so much, don’t tell me it made your heart actually explode.”
But then I decided to text my friends back, telling them “Sorry — I put my phone away for a little to just breathe.” Their responses? Not pleasant. Everyone was acting like I said I was going to go to the moon or transferring schools, not that I simply put my phone away for a little bit.
DAY FIVE: ONE SMALL OBSERVATION
So today, I had to focus on the world around me. I had to not have my nose glued into my phone. I had to have my eyes and ears open to the world around me to see what is going on, in hopes that I make an observation.
And what did I learn? One of my residents has a tattoo.
Okay, so it’s not exactly a life changing observation or something that made me stop and realize that I needed to switch my life around or some crazy idea that leads me to some sort of life movement. But it was an observation I hadn’t noticed before.
Blame it on the lack of phone? Blame it on the warmer weather and she wore capris? I’m going to blame it on this challenge.
DAY SIX: DREAM HOUSE
Here we go — last day!
I was realizing that I had so much more potential for my life that I was suppressing cause I had my nose glued to my phone. What about writing a poem? One person from the podcast said that’s what they did. Why can’t I?
And on that note, I jumped into the last task — watching water boil. Yup, you read that right — the last task is to watch water boil. But the task, after that happens, was to empty my wallet, take the contents out, and to construct my dream house.
So with my Chipotle receipts, Metrocard, and Victoria’s Secret gift cards, I had to try and build a house.
It wasn’t pretty and it definitely wasn’t exactly symmetrical. But I waited for the water to boil to make mac and cheese (okay, so I didn’t wait the entire time because I was hungry and the noodles were shaped like Minions so I couldn’t wait). But I tried.
And the point was that if you’re bored, you are much more creative. But what I got from this, instead, was that there is more to focus on life than just my phone and someone’s Instagram picture.
And just like that, six days were over and I had completed the challenge. I survived.
I didn’t thrive, but I survived.
I think that we should all take the time out. It made me realize how much I really am on my phone and I am missing out. From now on, I may walk to work without my phone. I may put it away when I need a breather and focus on myself. I don’t think I’ll be able to live without the Twittersphere, but I think that I can go without it for a few hours.
Cause in the end, this left me feeling a little bit like Ferris Bueller…
And I don’t want to miss out on anything.
If you decide to take the challenge, comment below and let me know. I would love to hear how it goes for you!