The holidays are a time of food, family, football—and social media.
If you are anything like I am, putting your phone down for even an hour seems near impossible…but for this break, I had a professor challenge my class for an entire 24 hours during Thanksgiving.
For this challenge, he wanted us to go further than putting our phones down. He wanted us to turn off the television, put away laptops and video games and enjoy the company of those around us. That meant no texting, no “phone eats first,” no Snapchat—our phones were to be completely out of our minds.
After the 24 hours was over, we had to “document” what happened in a class discussion, so that we were able to see how everyone in the class handled the day.
I was wary to even attempt this challenge (as I scrolled through the same Instagram posts for the third time), but decided I would give it a try.
Since we are a big football family, we decided we were only going to include phones. We decided we were going to make a game out of it—the goal was to see who was able to go the longest without using a phone.
Ironically, my parents were the first two to use their phones so within 15 minutes, my brother and I were the only two left.
Early on in the morning, I found myself reaching for a phone that was not in my pocket numerous times. I could tell my brother was in a similar situation as he was pretty much doing the same thing. We literally did not know what to do when we didn’t have multiple platforms of social media to scroll through.
After a while, I started to notice that everything was different. The conversations were different, the company was different and the overall atmosphere was different.
Rather than having 10 people in a house sitting in different rooms staring at their phone screens in complete silence, we were all engaged in conversation. And, more importantly, it was more than just the “how is school going” type of conversation—I heard stories from my grandparents that I had never heard before and laughed harder than I had in a while.
It got to the point that I didn’t really notice my phone was gone. I went from “wow this is going to be impossible” to “wow I don’t have my phone and it’s really not the end of the world.”
One of the things I really appreciated about doing this challenge was not feeling the need to be on social media. Our society—especially our generation—is one where everything is documented. Literally everything.
I am guilty of scrolling through Instagram and immediately feeling the need to compare to all of the girls that are on my screen. I want to dye my hair and buy an entire new wardrobe—but for one day I put it all to the side and put my family first. Even in that short amount of time I was able to feel the stress lift off of me. I wasn’t spending my time thinking about how other people and their families chose to spend the day, I was lost in the moment with my own.
For a family of four that only sees each other maybe three times out of the year, this came at a perfect time and I am very appreciative that I took the time to realize just how often we use our phones (and how much we don’t need them).
It is definitely a hard thing to do, especially around the holidays, but after this experience I would encourage more people to try–even if it is just for a few hours.