My Arguments for an All-Out Phone Cleanse

Nowadays with a readily available phone which includes calling, texting, and emailing — not to mention all the various other social media apps — it’s hard to be fully offline. 

Of course, we’ve all seen those news articles that reveal how a new study found our phones to cause anxiety and lower self esteem, but in most cases, we brush that off and say “well, that isn’t happening to me.” 

I know I used to think nothing of those studies and kept on scrolling through Instagram. 

However, I’ve recently realized how people expect others to be “on call” for any situation. 

My mom says that life moved much slower before the advent of phones. For example, if you were waiting for the bus — you did just that. You waited for the bus. There was no little rectangular device for you to pull out and start answering emails on. 

Hearing her say this makes me crave those days when things were simple and you had fewer people to answer to less often. I, as many others I’m sure, am beginning to feel the pressure to constantly be “on” or available, whether that be for professors, bosses, or even friends. Perhaps college kids are beginning to feel the pressure with the fast approaching graduation date, including all the internship and job interviews that come with it. 

I think we could all benefit from the occasional — not just social media cleanse — but phone cleanse. And believe me, as I typed that it even seemed outrageous, for I am someone who proclaims to be a digital native obsessed with personal branding. 

For instance, one week over winter break I did not check Snapchat or Instagram that whole time. I hadn’t even deleted the apps, but for some reason I just didn’t feel compelled to look at them. It felt great, though. Unfortunately, soon after that lovely hiatus I began to feel the pull to look back at them. Not because I wanted to see nice pictures or fun nights out, but I thought I’d be out of the loop or that people would wonder why I wasn’t liking their pictures anymore. 

This is where I think it could get, not dangerous per se, but…tricky. When you begin to feel drawn to your phone for fear of retaliation — or in other words, fear that someone will confront you for not answering an email fast enough or thinking you’re throwing shade by not answering a text fast enough. 

When someone doesn’t answer me, for instance, my automatic thought is: how have they not seen this? Everyone has their phone on them 24/7. This shouldn’t have to be the case, though! 

Going on Instagram should be an enjoyable (& yes, sociable) experience minus the crazy thoughts of ‘why hasn’t my best friends liked this selfie yet?’ 

Answering emails from teachers and managers doesn’t have to be a race to reply if you’re actually doing something else important — ie. finishing a essay or even enjoying a dinner with friends. 

Honestly, I’ve been checking my phone more out of fear nowadays than out of curiosity. I know it sounds crazy, but in my eyes I just imagine the person impatiently waiting for my response. I don’t want to seem inconsiderate of their time, but I also don’t want to be condemned just because I didn’t see my internship advisor’s email soon enough or that I didn’t answer a club member’s Facebook message with the speed of lightning. 

I realize that this is the world we live in and that it is likely only going to get worse, but that doesn’t mean we have to conform to it. 

From now on, I’m going to try and go back to that slow paced life my mom frequently talks about. I will set aside certain times to check my email. I will go on Instagram when I feel like being inspired (not pressured to like every acquaintance’s photo). It’s time to wait for the bus. With a book that is (not a Kindle!). 

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