by Nicole Winkler
As a stranger steps through the elevator threshold, I look down and grasp my phone. The awkward silence that lasts only for a minute or two seems as if it lasts for five or ten. Two more floors. That’s it.
The stranger is looking down at his phone and I’m looking down at mine. Instead of starting a conversation, both of our heads are tilted towards the ground and our eyes are fixated on the screen as we text our friends, check Instagram, or maybe even play some Candy Crush. Yes, we avoid communication because we would rather interact with people we already know through a digital window.
What happened to looking out a real window and viewing life through one’s eyes and not a camera phone?
According to recent studies, almost 80% of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up each morning. Industry leaders even suggest that people check their phones close to 150 times daily. Unfortunately, I am one of these people.
I know this is a bad habit and I get mad at myself for my constant need to connect. I get mad because Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and more are not as important as making real connections with real people. I know we have all heard this before and most people agree that our generation is very social media focused, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, my question is: how much is too much?
I feel uncomfortable without my phone, like many of us do, but I want to feel free without it. I need a technology and social media detox.
Perhaps because I am a social media intern this semester, I continuously check and now contribute to a company’s social media in addition to my own. My mind is occupied by things that don’t really matter — likes, comments, followers, filters, photos, captions, word choice, what to share and what not to share. I want to challenge myself to put my phone away.
I challenge myself to not feel the need to share my thoughts and photos 24/7 and to not feel the urgency to stay connected at all times. I challenge myself to look up from my phone and focus more on what lies in front of me and the people that I care about.
I know this detox is not going to be easy. However, I think it is important in order to appreciate the things that surround us here and now. It is important to look up from our phones as we are walking to and from class and smile at the people that walk by. It is important to recognize that all life has to offer cannot be lived through a device. Life is fully experienced only when that device is down and eyes are open. I don’t want this to sound preachy because I appreciate social media and all the good that it does, especially for marketing purposes and accessibility of communication.
But I need a break. I want to pull my energy away from the phone and pour it into achieving my goals and creating the life I want to live. I want to look into people’s eyes and hear people’s voices.