I remember the day I got my first smartphone; it was toward the end of my junior year of college, and literally everyone else I knew already had one. In an effort to save money, my family had always opted for basic phones that could make phone calls and maybe take pictures if you were lucky, but as I drove to the mall to meet my mom and pick up my new phone, I knew that things would be different this time around.
When I met up with my mom in the food court at the Meridian Mall, I could barely contain my excitement; my mom handed me the smartphone she had picked out, and I swear I could hear angels singing. It was a Samsung Stellar with a pink case, and even though it wasn’t the iPhone that I had secretly been hoping for, I was so excited to finally be entering the 21st century, I didn’t really care that it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. No longer would I have to take pictures with my big, awkward camera, upload them to my computer and THEN upload them to Facebook; I wouldn’t have to wait to get to a computer to check my email; I could finally download Instagram! It was love at first sight.
It’s been about two years since I got that phone, and I think it’s safe to say that owning it has changed the way I go about my day. From the moment I wake up until I go to bed, my phone is by my side. It’s my alarm clock, my main source of entertainment, my fitness tracker and my connection to the rest of the world. Like 85 percent of millennials, I’ve become dependent on my cell phone.
The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one, right?
I didn’t realize how bad my dependency was until my phone battery started to fail. The thought of having a dead phone while I was going about my day gave me so much anxiety — what if I needed to make a call and my phone didn’t work? What if someone tried to call me and I wasn’t available? What if I needed a distraction and I couldn’t update my Facebook status? What if I actually had to talk to people in real life?
I couldn’t handle more than a few minutes away from my phone, so I got a portable charging stick that would keep my phone charged until the new battery I ordered arrived. I was so relieved that I wouldn’t have to be disconnected for too long, but as that wave of relief washed over me, I realized just how badly I needed a break from my phone. I mean, I really shouldn’t be that uncomfortable without my phone.
This month’s issue of ing is all about unplugging, and you’ll find a lot of articles that offer ideas on how to do just that. Given my dependency on technology, I may be the absolute worst person to talk about being unplugged, but I’m slowly re-learning how to live life away from my phone. Taking some time to unplug gives me the opportunity to do other things that I enjoy, and it’s helped my relationships with my friends and family.
So this month, let’s do our best to power down our smartphones and shut off our computers, even if it’s only for a little while. Not everyone is as dependent on their phone as I am, but a lot of us could stand to put down our phones for a few hours and really take in our surroundings. Between activities on campus and events in the community, there are so many things we can do without our phones and computers, and until we can learn to live a little bit more without technology, we’re going to miss out on a lot of great things.