In my sophomore literature class, we are currently reading a book called "Walden" written by the well-known transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau. In this book, Thoreau lives a semi-isolated, simplistic, and self-sufficient life in the woods in eastern Massachusetts.
For two years and two months, he grew his own food, read books, admired his natural surroundings, went on walks, and wrote essays on his experiences in Walden woods. As a transcendentalist, he often criticized modern technology. This book was published in 1854, during the era of telegraphs and typewriters, and technological innovations have skyrocketed since then.
Thoreau believes that instead of people running the machines, the machines are running the people. He suggests to slow down and reconnect with nature.
"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail."
The Walden test was notorious for being the most difficult test of the year, with even the most intelligent students failing it. Due to the failure rate, my teacher gave our class an opportunity to receive a significant amount of bonus points on the test.
The conditions were that we had to give up our phone for a whole week. Students would leave their phone with the teacher, and she would secure them in a locked cabinet for seven days. We were not able to access our phones at any time during that week. I gave up my phone last Wednesday and it remained in my teacher's possession until today (a week later).
At first, I was debating over whether or not I should participate in this activity. I desperately needed the extra credit, but I also desperately needed my phone. Because I'm only 15 and I cannot drive yet, I needed to schedule rides with my parents and friends. Emailing my parents using my laptop to pick me up from school was quite inconvenient.
I am surprised to say that my productivity reduced without a phone.
Not having an alarm to wake me up in the morning threw off my day. I lost a productive hour in the morning. While getting ready in the morning, I usually listen to motivational speeches, TED-talks, or, rarely, play meditation music. Getting ready in the silence made the mornings bleak and reduced my motivation to wake up.
Losing my phone also threw off my academic productivity. Pulling out a bulky laptop every time I needed to complete an academic task was too time-consuming.
Communicating with friends was another struggle. If I needed to tell my friend some information, I would need to physically find them, which was a struggle in my large public high school.
The most surprising part was that I was more distracted than usual without a phone.
A common misconception is that a phone makes you unproductive. After this experiment, I can tell you that laziness exists even without a phone. The convenience of having a phone definitely balances out the negative aspects of it, such as distractions.