This past week was Thanksgiving, and as part of our class challenge I decided to drastically cut back on the amount of time spent on my phone. While it was very enjoyable to spend time with my friends and family while traveling, some routine actions had a habit of creeping back for me.
I decided to start off I would disconnect from technology after 9 p.m. each night and actually read books that I wanted to read. I keep complaining that I don’t have time to read things I want and am too busy doing schoolwork or grading papers to read a book. It turns out the reality is that I just have to prioritize my time a little better. While I watch TV regularly at night when I get home, it’s never the only thing I’m doing. Sometimes I’m making and eating dinner, sometimes I’m working on schoolwork or catching up on lesson plans, or I’m pinteresting. I’m perpetually on the move and I found out that turning my phone off at 9 actually felt great! I didn’t check e-mails or facebook, I didn’t get sucked into the group chat of 20+ people trying to coordinate weekend plans. I just turned it all off, wrapped in a blanket and read.
I have to admit the first night I found myself having a hard time concentrating on the book. I found that my mind kept wandering to the things that I could be doing or wondering what I was missing on my inbox. By the second and third night though I was much more enveloped in my Nicholas Sparks novel that I stopped worrying about everything else.
While that portion was getting easier, challenges started arising as I got to the airport to fly home. I knew I would need my phone at the airport to keep my family updated on my flight and access my boarding pass, but I wanted to make a conscious effort to reduce other things. I struggled with this. Looking around the airport, at least 90% of the people were on some sort of technological device – whether they were streaming Netflix, talking on the phone, or listening to music. I looked at my book for a few minutes, but with all of the announcements constantly going off and people on the move the entire time, I finally gave up and retreated to my Candy Crush.
Once I got home, this challenge started to become quite a roller coaster. I told my sisters what I was doing and wasn’t at all surprised by their reactions. My 22 year old sister thought it was a cool idea and said she would leave her phone home when we went to Thanksgiving dinner. My 18 year old-freshman in college-sorority pledging-social butterfly of a sister looked at me like I had lost my mind. I would honestly be impressed to see her more than 5 feet from her phone at any given time. Needless to say, she was not willing to participate in this.
Thanksgiving was truly more special this year because I felt much more involved with my family. We played board games, I colored with my little cousins, and caught up with my older cousins. They stayed off their phones more than usual too when they heard why I left mine at home.
To be honest, I’m not sure that I successfully completed the unplugging challenge. I improved, but cheated quite a few times. The important thing that I took out of this was the realization of just how much I depend on my phone. I noticed how antisocial my sister was at times because she was so involved in her screen that it made me wonder if I am like that sometimes towards people that I care about. Going forward I want to make sure that I’m making an effort to keep my phone in my purse while I’m with friends and savor the time that I get to spend with them.