I Went Tech-Free For 12 Hours — And Here’s What Happened

Recently, I went twelve hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., tech-free for an extra credit assignment. This meant no phone, no social media, and it was back to basics for me. 

Even as I’m writing that, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but after the first few hours, I started to realize how much time I spend on my electronics and what a crutch they are in my life. 

We live in a world where we’re expected to be available 24/7. With access to a smartphone, there is no excuse not to respond to that email that your boss sent you on Saturday morning or that “urgent” text from your friend asking for outfit advice. 

This constant access can be both a positive and a negative thing. It can make you feel like you’re constantly in the loop and aren’t missing out on what’s happening. However, the downside is constantly being reactive and plugged into social media. 

A part of me was excited to have this assignment. It provided me with an excuse to unplug from the endless cycle of shifting through different apps and having multiple conversations at once over text and social media. It would have been much harder to just turn all of my devices off without having a valid reason, another by-product of always being plugged in. There was that constant worry of “What if I miss something?” 

Pinterest

The 12 Hour Purge 

The night before I had planned to go tech-free, I shut down my laptop and turned off my phone so that in the morning, even if I reached for my phone, I wouldn’t be tempted to check the notifications. I have to admit, I did strategically plan the day I was going tech-free. It was a day where I was going to be with my family so that I knew I would have social interaction and entertainment and also not have to worry about whether or not they were trying to contact me.

Sure enough, when I woke up, my first instinct was to go check my phone, and when I realized I couldn’t, a part of me was very concerned about whether or not I was missing an important notification. However, after snapping out of it, I went on and had a pretty easy time going through my routine. My morning went a little like this: sleep in a bit, have a slow morning with my family, go for a run, and then come home to get ready for dinner at my aunt’s house. 

The afternoon was when the boredom set in. All I wanted to do was to grab my laptop and watch YouTube videos while I worked on my homework or scroll through social media to give myself a break. It was at this point that I realized how much of a crutch my phone and social media is for me. It’s a source of constant stimulation and interaction. Whenever I’m bored, I reach for my phone. Whenever I feel like I need to talk to someone, I grab my phone. 

To make this entire thing even more inconvenient, a lot of my assignments were online, and I wasn’t able to fill my time with that either. 

It was at this point that I decided to sit down, relax, and read. It took a little while, but eventually, the worry that I was missing something went away. The nagging feeling that I was missing emails about projects I had for work disappeared too. At that moment, I felt a kind of peace in knowing I could just escape the constant access. 

Pinterest

While I don’t think I could ever go completely tech-free, I think that even just taking a day per week to eliminate social media use is definitely something I want to try implementing. Being able to get over that FOMO or any of the toxic things that come along with social media, is enough for now. I got to see how much time in a day I spent mindlessly scrolling and liking, none of which brought me much joy. Instead of spending my time balancing between online life and real-life, I got to enjoy and live my real one. I was surrounded by family, engaging and talking, and noted how much time other people were spending on their devices (it was a lot). 

We don’t realize it at the moment, but when we multitask and use our phones while engaging with people face-to-face, the connection isn’t all there. We’re partially in the moment, and mostly focusing on whatever is on our screens. We aren’t truly living. 

So, here’s my challenge for YOU:

Go a day without social media, your phone, or something you find yourself using a little too much and see how you feel. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much better you feel.