I went sans-phone for a week this summer. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
At the beginning of August, I decided to put my phone in a cupboard where I couldn’t reach it. No Instagram, no YouTube and no Spotify. There was no way I could reach anyone for a week.
I had major FOMO–fear of missing out. I turned to productivity to keep the anxiety away– I practiced my viola and finished my Geometry summer homework– but I was still worried I was missing out on some big thing happening with my friends, family or in the news.
Being away from social media was very challenging. I missed the constant flow of communication and information I received from people on different platforms. My days felt long and dull with my usual source of entertainment missing, and I couldn’t reach for my phone when I wanted a distraction.
A study done by the global tech protection and support company, Asurion, showed that the average American checks their phone 80 times a day– that’s once every 12 minutes. For the first two or three days, I caught myself looking around wildly for my phone. I was desperate to check the latest updates, but I had to remain committed to this detox.
The main reason I put my phone away for a week was because I felt I was too obsessed with it. It was affecting my day-to-day interactions: I’d wake up, check Instagram, eat breakfast, send my streaks on Snapchat, eat lunch, watch Emma Chamberlain’s newest video, go to bed and finish it the day with an episode of “The Office”. My phone controlled my life.
I wasn’t totally cut off though. My mom kept my phone on her sometimes so she could notify me of changed field hockey practices or pressing school emails. I also lost a few streaks but my sister kept them intact for the most part.
Even with my phone gone, I still felt tied to social media. The nagging worry that I was isolating myself and the urge to grab my phone in the hard-to-reach cupboard took some time to dissipate.
My daily routines mostly improved without a phone. I went to sleep earlier and woke up earlier, which meant I had more time in my day to complete tasks I’d been putting off. Field hockey practices, however, were more difficult to manage without communication. For instance, one time I told my mom that a practice ended at 8:30 a.m., but it ended early and I waited half an hour for her.
I started to pick up good habits like drinking at least 6 cups of water a day and reading a book before bed. Even since getting my phone back after that long week, I still pick up a book before falling asleep now.
Looking back, I see exactly how much I depended on my phone for simple things in my life. I also checked it way, way too much every day. I’m always connected to the world through my phone somehow– and that’s a lot to ask of someone 24/7.