• Tess Varley

A Week Unplugged

A few weeks ago I did the impossible. As a 20-year-old college student, I went without a phone for a full week. As my semester was coming to a close, my roommate and I went to our go-to bagel spot on our last Saturday. There, at Bagel Gourmet Olé, I slammed my phone into my car door. So, from that point on, I was “unplugged” and it was one of the best weeks I have had at school in a long time.

Throughout the first few days, I started to notice how much my own mood changed without my mindless social media scrolls occupying free time. What I also noticed was how much I realized that I do need a phone. I was supposed to drive home two hours away, but knew that could go south very quickly without directions. I could not go on runs or to the store alone, and I also felt generally disorganized. It showed the importance of building that healthy relationship with tech – because no matter if you want it or not, it plays a major role in our lives and there is no way around it.

After having a mini detox that week, which was convenient as it was during my finals week, I knew that I had to set some clear, new boundaries. I will admit, I am the stereotypical Gen Z girl, and social media is all fun and games until it turns toxic. I will openly blame about 90% of my insecurities on the apps that have taken over far too much of my life. It messes with an individual's mental health as we constantly compare ourselves, which is oh-so frustrating when it sounds easy to just delete the app. However, social media is also an incredible tool for connection, sharing fun photos with friends, and feeling social throughout our pandemic. I decided that, if the apps that challenge my own self worth and the self worth of so many are going to stay on my phone, then it is time to take the control back.

My first change has been to leave my phone behind when I am spending time with friends, family, or doing any activity. I have found myself creating deeper connections and living in the moment more frequently. It sounds cliché, but it is such a simple thing we can do that our phones have taken away from us. I have also set timers on Instagram, so once I spend twenty minutes on it a day, I will get notified. App limits are so helpful because you’re tested for a brief moment in time when you hit that limit. The pause allows you to think “do I really need to spend any more time on Instagram today?” Lastly, I have paid attention to my screen time analytics, felt the embarrassment, and actively try to reduce it. It’s important to recognize that while we experience shame when looking at our screentime, we can use this as a gentle reminder to come back to the fact that we have the ability to say “no” when tech is taking over our lives.

Make it a goal for the month of February to hang up, and hang out. Watch yourself appreciate who and what you are surrounded by a little bit more. Spend productive time on your phone – whether that be using it for meditations with Prezence or catching up with old friends, simply remember to stay mindful.

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