For two days before this experiment, I thought I was “relaxing,” because I hardly saw or spoke to anyone. In reality, I was just counting in-person interactions. I wasn’t factoring the amount of times I connected with people through my phone. That realization genuinely scared me. As if I was becoming brainwashed by technology or brainwashed into thinking I was one way, when I am in fact, the opposite.
Even though I can complain about being away from home on work trips, invited to weddings, showers, birthdays, anniversaries, parties, or obligations of some kind, I go because they matter to me. I simply recognize that it can be a sacrifice. I am giving people my time and sometimes my money. I could probably argue I’ve gone broke for the people I love. Somehow I didn’t know that to be true until recently.
I was lovingly made fun of when I announced I wasn’t going to be on my phone at all for an entire day. As if it were some courageous, noble act. The purpose of the announcement was for my friends and mother to avoid a panic attack when I didn’t answer my phone. While they might’ve been fine without it, I genuinely felt guilt in not letting them know. I can’t figure out what that says about me, but it’s the truth.
The purpose of the experiment was solely to see what I actually did with my time and how I felt. I wanted to see how important human interaction was or wasn’t to me. I go on and on about how I want to be alone, then sit and stare at a bright screen for attention. It’s absurd. Technology makes my anxiety worse. Staring at bright screens does nothing good for the mind or soul. I need to unplug and genuinely relax. And as a writer, it’s unfortunate that I can only work well in solitude and isolation; yet resist the hell out of it. I truly am, my own worst enemy.
The morning of this experiment I instantly checked my bank account and email. I lied in bed, not thinking those actions counted. As long as I didn’t go on social media, text, or answer any phone calls, that was fine. Later, I took my dog for a walk, using an app that tracked my distance, while simultaneously listening to music. Afterward, I continued to look at my phone, to check the time. Why I even needed to know the time baffled me. I had nothing to do that day. Time didn’t matter. Yet, I was making mental notes of what I wanted to do with my phone, once I was able to use it again tomorrow. That word slapped me in the face. “Tomorrow.” What about right now? What’s going on in the present? Am I actually living, if I am constantly looking to the future? That was when I put my phone in a bag, in the corner of the room. Then, I opened my journal and wrote this. Which was essentially, the whole point of this experiment. I wanted to see if being present and in my mind would make me write something profound. I don’t think my writing, specifically this piece, lives up to the definition of that word. But yes, basically I wanted to write, and I wanted to write well. That was then. This is now.
I want to remind you of this. What are you doing right now? What’s going on in the present? Be there now.
Do you think you could give up your phone for a day? Tell me why or why not. I dare you.