Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

In the 21st century, it’s hard to instantly let go of social media and the internet for a weekend. Before, your parents might have scolded you for using your phone or watching TV too long, but as of now, these platforms have been completely implemented into our lives, and not just for fun. To finish that dumb essay, you have to use Google Docs. If a loved one sends you a “happy birthday” text on your birthday, you’re compelled to answer, otherwise you’d be marked as a villain. And if your friends are talking about that new episode of your favorite Netflix show, wouldn’t you want to chime in? It’s just socially expected that we use it. How on Earth are we supposed to get rid of something so integral to our lives?

That’s right. It’s funny to think how none of this technology was integral to us once upon a time. It wasn’t really around a couple decades ago. Now, it exists, but sometimes, we college gals just need to catch a break.

So what do we do, when it’s popping up at every corner?

At least while we aren’t studying, we shouldn’t have to always use it. It’s not like one was born glued to our phones in our mother’s womb. It was all learned behavior. And sometimes, it’s good to take a step back because of how overwhelming it is.

How many times have you felt pressured to answer a text? Or continue aimlessly scrolling through TikTok? Or somehow find ourselves going down the YouTube rabbit hole instead of having some quality time that enriches our lives and the lives around us? Unfortunately, it’s a common experience that can happen to the rest of us, including me. I can’t count how many times I’ve stayed up at night using my phone at the cost of precious sleep.

I’m definitely not fond of the thought of being controlled by my digital devices and feeling eye strain all the time, so I decided to try out a digital detox challenge for the weekend. I turned off my phone, laptop, and decided to read a book instead.

Within 5 minutes, I felt the urge to pick up my phone and like that one post I had just seen. The first few hours were tough, so I tried to keep myself distracted with other things. I couldn’t finish the book. I kept thinking, “why didn’t I just read it in online form?”

But I took a walk outside, enjoyed the nature without listening to any music, and later decided to write as well.

Writing is already a hobby of mine, but the last time I had written anything with pencil and paper was definitely in high school, so it had been a couple of years. Admittedly, it felt odd, outdated even.

But after time, it started to feel extremely fulfilling. I felt nostalgic, writing about things I had found fun, like running until I was giggling so hard that I’d ran out of breath while playing outside, or the cool winds at night that hit my face the same way cold water tasted in a throat-parched desert.

I also slept really well that night. I did feel kind of lonely, though. I think along the way, I had started to think about my phone as a pet to have around, and without it, I was confused. I panicked. Of course I would. Even though I had missed out on a lot of things when all of our faces were buried in our devices, but what were they exactly? I had forgotten, because I had been so used to having my phone around.

How long had it been since I had truly not been captivated by my phone? Maybe a whole decade ago? Some of my early childhood memories from the 2010s include downloading Subway Surfers on my mom’s phone and playing it during long car drives in the backseat. My parents thought I had finally transformed into the quiet child they wished I was, but in actuality my mind was whirring at the speeds of Tricky or Jake leaping from train to train. I was probably around 10 or 11 years old, but at that time, that game was my whole life. After that, I couldn’t imagine not having phones in my life!

But… later on, I needed a break. Because too much of something isn’t always a good thing. It can lead us astray if taken too far. But I didn’t want to feel lonely either.

So what was something I decided to turn to?

More social interaction!

I tried to reach out to people I knew around campus, not by social media, but when I saw them walking by along the same route, or when I was in line for food at a restaurant, and would ask them if they were down to a nice, tech-free chat. It was admittedly scary at first, as I can be pretty shy, but I started wondering if that was also partly due using my phone excessively, and maybe thought I should try go without it.

Needless to say, they were all wondering why I hadn’t responded to any of their texts to hang out that weekend in the first place, and I had to explain to them that I was doing a digital detox.

Many looked at me like I was on steroids. “How was that?” they wondered, clearly cautious about the experience. It’s ironic, as if they were born with a phone in their hand. But our brains have seemingly tricked ourselves into thinking that phones are absolute necessities for our immediate survival, so I don’t blame them.

It’s true, to an extent, that phones supply us with enough information to last us potentially a lifetime of happiness, if used in the right way. NOTE: USED IN THE RIGHT WAY.

Phones can reveal infinite information about ourselves and allow us to make connections around the world in a second. We can download fitness apps, and self-help podcasts. But honestly, taking a break from them isn’t such a bad thing. We shouldn’t always have to feel pressured to stay “connected” while missing opportunities for genuine in-person interaction. And in the end, I realized that the way to stay healthy and fit, aren’t just through the fitness apps or podcasts from famous athletes and bodybuilders… it’s definitely also by taking time off for oneself.

Think about your own life for a moment, and how many hours you use your phone. How does it affect your daily life? Is there a way to find a balance that allows you to maintain your wellbeing?

Hey y'all! I'm a junior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Linguistics and minoring in Elements of Computing. You might find me analyzing TV shows/books/movies, tuning out background noise to listen to classical music, scrolling through Duolingo, or watching cute bunny videos.