Putting our phones down is becoming increasingly harder these days, not only because they’re our prime source of connection to the people around us, but also because they’re our only connection to the world around us. Social media gives us news about our friends, families, favorite celebrities, and far more. Google can answer any question for us (whether it is right or wrong depends on the day). Texting connects us to the people around us; sometimes people that are only a set of stairs or a room away. When we have our phones, we have our connection to the rest of the universe, and we can feel comfortable knowing that infinite knowledge and connection is only a tap away.
Many people believe we’re becoming too dependent on our phones. We’ve all seen the advertisements with the depressing pictures of people with their phones photoshopped out of their hands, and the insinuation that phones are removing us from our physical lives and the physical people around us. Are they true? Are we really switching from a more physical culture to a more online culture? That’s a question that only the future can answer.
I find that sometimes, putting my phone down can be therapeutic. At first, it’s weird to not be connected to the world, but the thing is, it’s just a different kind of connection: instead of being connected to the online world, you’re more connected to your physical world. Putting my phone down started when I babysat for a summer, and would be with the kids for up to 8 hours a day. They didn’t want to be on their phones because instead, they had a physical being who wanted to be there and play games with them. I didn’t want to be on my phone, because I wanted the kids to be engaged in whatever we were doing, and that just wasn’t going to happen if I was plugged in.
This disconnect moved on to putting my phone away about a half an hour before I went to bed so that I could unwind instead of thinking about whatever news I had seen seconds before I closed my eyes. Now when I do homework, my phone stays in another room, and it’s super easy to forget it’s even gone—I can come back to it (and a few disgruntled friends) hours and hours later after a productive day of work and feel better about what I’ve accomplished. I found that not only was I getting more done, I was also more focused on the physical world around me instead of the world of the internet. Taking a break became having a chat with my mother instead of checking Facebook. Putting my phone away meant I was able to connect more to myself and what I needed, instead of what my brain (or the internet) thought I needed. Maybe I did need that glass of water instead of taking that Buzzfeed quiz on which Disney Princess I was.
I challenge you to try it. I challenge you to put your phone down while you’re studying. I challenge you to put it in a different room, and to tell me what difference it makes in your productivity. I’m assuming you all have internet on your computers, and that means you can still google things, but my challenge is more than that. I challenge you to focus solely on a project of your (or your professors) own choice, and to keep that focus without a phone, without texting, without social media, without any connection to that online world (other than research for your project) for at least 2 hours. 120 minutes. 7,200 seconds. It doesn’t sound so long when you put it that way. I can guarantee you, it will feel long the first time, but once you get your mind out of internet dependency and back where it rightfully belongs, it will be easier and easier to do in the times to come. You might also get that project done in half the time it would usually take you.
May the odds be ever in your favour.