technology free
technology free

technology free

technology free

When term finished I decided to stay in Leicester. Almost 24/7 I am surrounded by people and as someone who can be quite introverted at times, it all got a bit much! I needed a break, so I spent a week and a half in Leicester on my own in the house to study.

Some of the things I learned in that time of solitude were invaluable, and such realisations led me to have a technology detox. It has now been over one month!

 

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In this day and age we are controlled by our phones. There are no two ways about it. Every time I wake up I am immediately overwhelmed with countless notifications about who has tagged me in a meme, emails for Law Soc, messages, and Snapchats. To be frank (I always feels weird saying that because my name isn’t Frank and if it was I would definitely use that phrase all the time), I know that social media is great for connecting with others, but it is soul destroying. You are constantly bombarded and it is relentless.

Due to the nature of how our brains work, scrolling through social media is so addictive because there’s always something new to look at. It wastes so much time too; aimlessly and mindlessly scrolling through pages of rubbish. It disconnects us as sometimes we think that this form of communication is a substitute for actually hanging out or phoning someone. We are so absorbed by our technology bubble that, in many cases, we become less genuine in real life. Let’s explore all of this!

The inspiration for this line of thought came from meeting one of my friends at Buddhist Society. After chatting for just a few minutes after each meeting, I had a perfectly clear idea of what he was about. He’s someone who doesn’t even have Facebook and prides himself on being detached from the world. Although his lifestyle is a little more extreme than a lot of us are used to, he is on to something. He’s so focused on just being himself that he isn’t concerned about keeping up the perfect facade that social media encourages us to parade around with.

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And so I embarked on my mission to not be a slave to my phone.

First up, some advice from a friend who is also always super busy – turn your notifications off. Crazy concept, right? Well, it has been GLORIOUS. The idea is that if people need to get hold of me urgently they can text me or phone me, but with Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger I only get notifications when I open my phone. In other words, when it suits me. There isn’t a screen lighting up every few minutes, glaring at me to check it – distracting me from work and conversations with friends. I answer the messages on my phone when it suits me, instead of when my phone demands me to.

Then I deleted all of my apps. Shock horror. I only have Whatsapp and Messenger now so that I can contact people. If I need to go on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to check Law Society stuff then I have to do it the old fashioned way on Google. It was rather odd at first because what were such integral functions of my phone are now non-existent. Without notifications and the urge to constantly be scrolling, life feels so much more… free! I don’t have to think about what I’ve missed out on, or seeing the same people relentlessly on three+ different mediums, or anything really. It’s just a lot less worry and hassle. Life, somehow, seems more real.

I am now more focused on using this spare time to worry about things that actually matter. Truly making myself a better person is the priority, instead of just pretending online. Spending quality time with people involves giving them my undivided attention, without sitting there wondering what to caption the Instagram picture from the day.

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It takes a while to get out of the habit of reaching for your phone all the time, but as the habit begins to break (fun fact – it takes on average 21 days to make or break a habit), you forget your phone even exists. And what a wonderful bubble that is. All the stresses that come with your phone melt away and you deal with them when you want to.

Along with that, I have so much more of an appreciation for the present moment. The other day Lucie and I were in town and she was ordering from a sushi place. Instead of using this mundane moment to reach for my phone, like I had always been programmed to do, I spent my time looking around the shop. The moment of ‘nothingness’ was appreciated, as opposed to the usual automatic thought of “THERE’S NOTHING TO DO I’M BORED, MUST SCROLL.” It seems that your phone prompts this way of thinking – encouraging boredom and complacency. Doing nothing is incredibly therapeutic and in this instance I spent my time looking at the sushi, people-watching and reading whatever was around. I definitely got more out of that than seeing countless quotes shared on Facebook about how badly this semester is already going.

Your mood improves as a result, too! You haven’t got the stress of a constant, overwhelming bombardment of notifications. You’re actually admiring and acknowledging the fun and mundane moments in life, instead of feeling the need to replace them with doing something on your phone. In terms of mood, social media is depressing. Simple fact. It drains you because there’s so much for your brain to look at, so you have less energy to do other tasks afterwards. We’ve all had those times where we’ve sat down in the library and then got distracted by Facebook/Instagram, and before you know it 25 minutes have passed and you feel so lethargic. Not to mention, as my friend Tom put it, with social media you’re watching a highlight reel of other people’s lives. How can you compare your everyday life to that without feeling demoralised?

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The crazy thing is that we all know this. Nonetheless, social media all so addictive and we feel like we would be left out of so much without it. So I am telling you – I have done this for a month now, and I couldn’t be more grateful for making this change. I can message people and reply to them whenever I’m free. If people need me they can ring me. If I want to hang out with people I can message them. I can catch up on society stuff whenever I need to on Google, and get the party invites and meme tags. All of this whilst being happier, more self-aware, and more, well, me!

We are so wrapped up in its games of when is the ‘right time’ to reply, not being able to open a message because it’ll show as ‘read’, and all sorts of other ridiculous etiquette. This absurdity protrudes into our reality, putting unnecessary barriers between people. Every now and again I might feel the need to share something that I feel particularly strongly about, and I think that’s okay. But where I find social media to be damaging is when we let is dominate our lives.

Going forward, let’s be real, authentic people. Let’s enjoy the moment, no matter what. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. Let’s cease making a device that’s a constant source of dread pretty much an extension of our limbs.

Don’t be consumed by your phone – live in the real world. It’s a great place, I promise.

-Scarlett

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