8 Things I Noticed When I Decided To Unplug For One Week

8 Things I Noticed When I Decided To Unplug For One Week

An experimental attempt to end screen addiction.
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As a Communications Studies major, I’ve admittedly noticed a personal lack and worsening of my communication skills as a college student. So, I took it upon myself to delete my social media apps off my phone for one week. I deleted Twitter, Instagram, VSCO, Snapchat and Facebook. Curiously, I wanted to see if my life as a student and a friend would change and if my communications skills would improve. During this week of no social media, I recognized change and progress.

I have complied a list of the eight most noticeable changes and observations I gathered during the week in which I fully unplugged.

1. Getting out of bed wasn’t so terrible.

My morning routine consists of rolling over, grabbing my phone, and opening Snapchat. It’s almost become an instinct of mine—but I can’t put into words why I open the app in the first place. Most of the time, it makes my getting-out-of-bed experience longer than it needs to be, all because I want to “see what everyone’s up to.” This past week, I decided to start my mornings off by listening to music. I utilized Spotify and played varieties of pump up music to make my mornings a bit easier. Through this, I noticed how much easier it was to get out of bed; I was excited to wake up, turn on some tunes, make breakfast, and relax before attending to my days’ plans. I found myself ready on time, happier, and I even found some new music along the way!

2. Anxiety? Not a question.

Our generation is the generation of FOMO. Ironically, social media is our inside key to the outside world. Through these apps of connection, we consider the lives of the people we follow on a personal level that can’t be seen without social media. We can all admit that through Snapchat, it is easy to make a small gathering look like a blast even if it’s just a few friends hanging out. We can utilize this app to deceive and exclude, and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. During my unplugged week, I loved how present I felt; at no time did I feel I should be elsewhere, nor did I feel preoccupied. I realized that I don’t need to document every little thing I do through videos and pictures. The idea of being present has lost its zing which is heart-wrenching because when we look back we aren’t going to remember the time we spent scrolling through our screens… and at this day and age, we spend a lot of time doing so.

3. My productivity level was through the roof.

As the week I chose to unplug was the week before spring break, midterms were in full swing. Although I only had to take one midterm (lucky me), I knew I had a lot of work to get done going into my week. It’s very easy to get distracted by social media when studying, and through my years of schooling I have succumbed to a pathetic study diversion—I permit myself to a “5-minute phone break” if I get a decent amount of work done. Ridiculous, I know, but this is something I had to refrain from during my unplugged week considering my favorite apps of distraction were gone. Poof! In lieu of those pitiful breaks, I found myself taking less study breaks and replacing “5- minute phone breaks” with making myself a cup of coffee, creating a to-do list, or even watching a few minutes of Friends—all things good and beneficial to me as a student.

4. I listened to people.

I’ve always viewed myself in a positive light when it comes to listening to others- whether it be entertaining a quick rant, hearing out friends who want to vent about their relationships, or simply small talk with family and friends, but lately I’ve felt guilty. The only way I can describe how I’ve felt is as such: social media’s consuming power has taken away from my ability to be a good listener. Sad, isn’t it? The initial thought of these two ideas and their correlation seems subtle and light, but social media’s affects range on a large scale. We learn the importance of “listening without interruption” and “being there for people you love” in elementary school, and it concerns me that something so trivial as an iPhone app is taking away from such a key skill. The way I felt when I spoke to people during my week was different. I felt engaged and present, as if I was truly feeling every word that the person in which I conversed with said. It made me feel good, like a real human being.

5. There are some cool apps out there…

So, in place of my social media apps, I wanted to find 2-3 replacement apps. Through my App Store search, I came across two fantastic apps: Daily Yoga and Calm. Daily Yoga is an app that gives you tutorials on yoga lessons—how awesome? I was flabbergasted when I realized that the time I normally spent on Instagram was being used to learn yoga poses and better my overall health. But Calm—my proudest find. This app is a meditation and relaxation app. It has several settings that enable you to listen to calming music, view beautiful sceneries like waterfalls and ocean waves, and it allows you to learn how to properly meditate. So yes, there is more than just social media out there! I plan on keeping my replacement apps as I enjoy them even after my unplugged week.

6. I’ve quit the scrolling game.

Genuinely, I’m so glad that my fingers lost their “touch.” Once I re-downloaded my apps, I noticed that my first thought wasn’t to spend minutes at a time scrolling through newsfeed or timelines. My phone usage has been limited and I have learned to spend more time doing. Through my week, I noticed that a lot of my social media anxiety came from scrolling. I allowed myself to become engulfed in what others were doing and posting. But why? I created an addiction, and I didn’t even know it.

7. I don’t really care what you’re up to or who you’re with...

Seriously though, why are we so curious about what other people are doing? Whether it be checking Snapchat to see that a friend is at the library, or viewing photos on Facebook from a friend who is vacationing in a luxurious place—what is the root of this curiosity? Is it boredom? Or is it genuine interest? Admittedly, I believe that a lot of the photos and posts that I care to view derive from boredom. Yes, there are times when a close friend of mine is traveling and I want to keep up with him or her via Facebook and Instagram, but at the end of the day, my persistence with checking social media absolutely derives from boredom. Throughout my week, I enjoyed that no one knew what I was up to. This reminded me that the people who are most important and truly care about me will keep in touch via call or text; this is something that we tend to forget in our technological age of advancement. And yes, I enjoyed being off the grid.

8. Table manners are on a downhill spiral.

Typically, I’ve never thought to look and survey how many people around me are using their cell phones in a specific place or at a particular time. With the detachment of social media, I observed a lot—sometimes accidentally. At one instance, I was going out to dinner and waiting to be seated. As I looked around me, I looked at the left section of the small restaurant. To my surprise, I counted ten out of twelve people using their cell phones during their meal and more than half of which were adults. I could not believe my eyes; what could be so important at that very moment? I felt saddened. Going out to dinner has always been a treat for my family and I, and that’s because it’s a time in which everyone gathers together and bonds without interruption. It’s easy to pick up the telephone during dinner time at home, but going out to a nice restaurant is supposed to be an experience. Why spend the money or time if we aren’t going to act appropriately? Something I too am guilty of is snagging a photo of my meal if it's aesthetically pleasing. As I saw other people take pictures of their food I felt embarrassed… I do this? Really? If we lose our manners our communications skills weaken, our time together becomes wasted, and we are pit falling into this epidemic of social media and screen addiction.

So here you have it! My week fully unplugged. I dare you to challenge yourself to unplug for a single week and see how your life changes.

Cover Image Credit: Bing

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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6 Reasons Why Title IX Isn't Protecting Students

The pathway set out for students seeking help with sexual assault is flawed.

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The protections against sexual assault college campuses need to provide must be easily accessible to everyone. That's because sexual assault on college campuses is a common problem. A problem that often goes unreported. Why is this a problem that is not being reported? Reasons vary from person to person; from being embarrassed to be called a liar to being terrified of any form of retaliation. We need to speak out against the injustices we face. Predators need to punished for their actions. Now, how can we help protect victims and exile predators in the "open-field" of college campuses?

In 1972 the Federal Civil Rights Law, Title IX, was passed. This law was established to prohibit sex discrimination at educational institutions; including sexual harassment and sexual violence. For many college campuses, this is the one and only option victims are geared towards. Though some argue we need title nine now more than ever, many disagree. Why? Well, Title IX has extensively dropped the percentage of successfully prosecuted cases from the time they started to the present day. It has become ineffective. Title IX is a critique of a system that protects sexual predators and hurts victims.

When talking to my friend, Mallory Clark, who has experienced going through Title IX, she described her situation like this: "I didn't report it to the police because everything was in his favor. I didn't have any support from Title IX."

Here and 6 reasons why Title IX is doing more harm than good in the status quo.

1. Title IX protects predators

Title IX can only successfully prosecute 9% of cases compared to 60% when they started. Why? That's because Title IX is informing predators on how to avoid "getting caught" or "getting in trouble". In a more detailed illustration; Title IX is educating predators on how to rape or sexually assault individuals. Predators are now modifying their tactics on their abusive actions in order not to fall under the laws Title IX has laid out. It's almost like telling predators "if you cut a sandwich down the middle, you'll be in trouble, but if you do it diagonally, you'll be good."

2. Emotional destruction is belittled

Unless an assault is categorized as "the worst accident in the world," Title IX won't actually do much about it. When a victim is called to give their testimony to Title IX officials, questions like "Did they force themselves on you?" "Did you say no?" "Were you drinking?" "What do you think caused this?" are asked in an interrogating-like style. Because of how Title IX makes it seem as if the only way you're a "true victim" is having been raped, victims feel as if maybe there really isn't any reason for them to be there testifying, much less any reason to feel broken.

An example of this is the way Title IX defines consent. They truly cannot frame or do anything about sexual assault/consent violations that are not clearly defined. Actions, like spreading naked pictures or stealing, are things Title IX still struggle to keep up with. For these reasons, many predators are clear off the radar because to Title IX, they didn't actually "do anything" physical to the victim, i.e. rape.

Something to consider: the physical and mental destruction a victim goes through on the daily having to see their abuser walk around freely, smiling, laughing, living. While the victim feels empty, disgusted and ashamed.

3. Their system takes forever

Title IX does not take immediate action. At least not in most cases. If they do it most likely because the student body was extremely involved in pushing actions to be taken not because Title IX was in a hurry. Title IX will tell us the process is inherently long. However, for as much red tape and bureaucracy they cite as reasons their investigations take so long, they sure do have a shocking amount of oversight. In a recent Title IX investigation at Boise State University, the investigation went four months over their deadline and the predator was able to graduate without them knowing about it. They claimed their hands were tied until the victim and their support system showed up with lawyers.

4. Title IX does not listen

Title IX has a lack of oversight. Title IX has been found to miss deadlines in approximately 54 college campus cases. This shows how little they pay attention to victims. Aside from not prioritizing their cases, Title IX has been giving victims bad advice. An example of this dates back to an incident at Baylor University where Title IX told the victim there was "nothing they could do about her situation" when there was. They simply did not want to deal with it.

The only agency able to regulate their behaviors is the office of ethics—which doesn't have enough funding money and only takes major cases into consideration. They can botch investigation after investigation without any consequences or ways to report or change their behavior

5. Gives institutional legitimacy to predators

Title IX makes it extremely difficult for survivors to find other avenues of justice. Hence why it is the one solution provided throughout college campuses on how to report and get help with any form of assault or discrimination. It makes it seems as if their validation and results are always correct. It makes it okay to call a survivor a "liar" if the invention was not successful.

6. The lack of an official Title IX coordinator

Though many college campuses may have an official Title IX coordinator, this is not applicable to everyone. In fact, Boise State University has not had a legitimate Title IX coordinator in four years. The person in charge at the moment isn't necessarily "qualified" for the position, yet they are still doing the job. This structural problem with Title IX is not being filled. This gets pushed off to the Gender Equity Center which is not equipped to handle the load of victims.

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