I did an experiment this week.
Now, before you say anything, no, it wasn’t anything weird.
Well, I guess you could assume it’s weird, especially if you’re a millennial like me.
It was a strange day, this experiment, but I’ve never been more grateful for it.
Figure it out yet?
I went a day without my phone.
(Cue all the shrieks.)
Yeah. Believe it or not. I, McKenna, went a day without her phone.
Earlier this week, I’d been reading Time’s recent magazine on mindfulness. For those of you who don’t know, mindfulness is a state of being, a state of being so aware of your surroundings that you begin to see the world for more than its distractions.
It’s actually really fascinating to read about, so I highly suggest you pick up the magazine in the stands.
But as I was reading through it, it began to dawn on me that I couldn’t remember what flower was on the bush outside of an academic building I walked past every day. I couldn’t tell you the hours I spent during the day without some sort of technology attached to or around me. I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually took a deep breath and smelled everything in the air as I walked through the quad.
Jerking away from the magazine, I realized that I was missing my life.
Now, life can mean and symbolize a lot of different things to lots of different people, and I think that’s great. But I’ve always thought that life is about the experiences, memories, and people around us. And my phone, my stupid, lovely, marble case-covered phone was taking that away from me.
So, that evening, I used it to set my alarm, and went to bed.
The next morning, I shut off my alarm and left it in my room as I headed to my first class.
I didn’t leave my laptop behind, and for several reasons. One, if someone needed to get ahold of me, they could. I have my texts set up to appear on my laptop. Two, I need it to take notes in class. Three, it’s expensive, and there is an anxious, bubbling pit of fear in my stomach if I leave it behind.
Nonetheless, I vowed to use my laptop only for checking email. It was one day, right?
It was harder than I thought. I thought I could remove the distraction and be perfectly fine. No, unfortunately, I could not. But in today’s day and age, I think a lot of other people would have the same issue. We’re all connected to our phones, our technology. Honestly, I think people assume going without technology means going all Laura Ingalls Wilder in your daily life, which is far from the truth.
What I found, in the single day that I went without my phone, is that I noticed a lot more. I was able to see a friend sitting at a table alone, or the way the colors on the trees are finally starting to show. The air around me was fresh and fraught with petrichor. I jumped in a puddle, too!
I was able to enjoy life around me for the first time in a long time. And it actually got me out of my own head, which is something that I don’t do enough of.
I’m not saying that turning off your phone will help you live your best life. Some people live by their phones, and that’s their prerogative. Who am I to judge? But I’m going to say this.
In the words of the great Ferris Bueller: