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Unplug Yourself: Why Social Media Breaks Are Important

Ahh September, the month that (I’d say) requires the most adjustment AND unfair time-trading. If you’re a student, you’re most likely trading your long days in the sun for even longer days in the classroom. If you’re one of those people working in the “real world”, you might be trading those short summer hours in for extended days at the office. Eventually, through our own discipline, we adjust to the “Back to School/Work” frenzy. But before we know it, the months are unwinding and we have become school/work zombies.

You know what I mean.

The days drag, just like our feet do.  We can’t wait to have just a moment to ourselves, yet every possible free moment we have, we plug our ears with headphones and bury our faces in our phones to satisfy our low-key FOMO (Fear of missing out). But the truth is, we’re missing a lot more than our favorite influencer’s outfit of the day. We’re missing out on our surroundings. We’re forgetting to unplug ourselves.

“How can we forget to unplug ourselves?” It’s easy to forget, and frankly, a lot of us have yet to notice that we do it.

This topic came to mind when my phone died during a weekend commute from home. I was livid. So livid, that I stared out the window, and that’s when it hit me. There’s a usual one or two stops that I pay attention to, solely because there’s a beautiful view of a river that has become habit for me to Snapchat. However, once I do that, I plug in my headphones and keep my head down for the next 1-2 hours. I don’t think about the in between stops, I don’t care to hear the conversations around me. In my mind, I want to get from point A to B, because I was just in such a rush for “me time.”

But I couldn’t do that this ride. This time, I had no choice but to exist with my surroundings. I had to hear the conversations around me. I had to acknowledge every town that I was in. I had to be present.

It sounds silly but that was my thought process! Once I accepted the situation, my first question was: “Okay. What should I think about?”

The next couple of hours turned it a thinking session. I was analyzing my next steps, planning ahead and even taking note of aesthetically pleasing buildings and eateries as we glided through towns. There wasn’t any rush, it was honestly “me time,” and I enjoyed it.

Once I got home, I put my phone on the charger and hopped in the shower. I realized that I should do that more often, so I did. As the semester started, 

I don’t know if I would have made it a habit to “Unplug” myself from my devices if my phone had not died that day. However, I’m glad it happened because my takeaway was rewarding. I quickly realized that I have plenty of “me time.” I was simply neglecting it because of the urgency I had to attend to my phone.

You don’t have to be that zombie who’s attached to their phone and dreaded Fall routine. You can exist, and there’s plenty to do.

If you’re having trouble, here are 5 simple steps:

Skip the headphones

Admit it, you’re probably not even listening to music. It’s a habit to keep our headphones in, even if we’re just using them as a sign for peers to “Stay away.”  Pick a day out of the school week to leave your headphones home and enjoy the music- the lively sound of your campus, of course.

Turn off your notifications

Skip out on the anxiety. When our phones are constantly buzzing, we feel obligated to up to date on everything. It’s like that moment when you’re at a party and you get an email from your professor about an assignment due next week. It can wait!

Bring a Notebook instead of a device

Note taking on a laptop is cool and all but we all know we give into our urge to check socials while doing so. Bring your notebook and pen and really try to be receptive. Besides, a study conducted by Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles shows that students are more efficient when they do!

Ditch your charger

If your schedule and responsibilities allow you to, leave the charger at home. When your phone dies, it dies. That’s it. Continue the day and enjoy it. If there isn’t an urgency, take a different route home, enjoy your surroundings. You deserve the “me time” you always say you don’t have!

Unplug yourself more often

Or do it as much as you can. We are living in such an innovative, wonderful age of technology. Yet, it’s so easy to become preoccupied and (even though we won’t admit) obsessed with it. It’s okay to miss out, and it’s okay to be on top of things; just be sure that you do it all in moderation. You can have that “me time” that you always say you don’t have. You just have to analyze how you’re using your time!

South Jersey native whose passion for writing lured her 14 miles from New York. Lataya is a student at Montclair State with a major in Journalism.
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