I Gave Up My Phone for 24 Hours and Lived to Tell the Tale

In honor of March 4th being National Day of Unplugging, I decided to do the unthinkable: I gave up the use of my phone for a whole day. Twenty-four hours without my lifeline to the rest of the world.  And let me tell you, it was quite the experience. 

Let’s be real. The majority of college students today are pretty much attached to their phones 24/7. We’ve managed to put our lives onto a little screen: social media, pictures, phone numbers, important dates and appointments, conversations... you name it it's there. The thought and fear of not having our cell phones is something many of us would freak out over.

So naturally, the minute I decided to give up my iPhone for a whole day, I was already freaking out. I had meetings and important reminders on my phone that were now not accessible to me. I had to write all of it down the old fashion way: pen and paper. Going a whole day without checking Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? You can say I was a little nervous. As for Snapchat? I was desperately praying that I wouldn’t lose any of my 300-plus day Snapchat streaks with my friends. If anyone needed to reach me? Best of luck to them, because they weren’t going to get through at all. Clearly, I was already regretting my decision to separate from my phone. So yeah, you could say that I was definitely freaking out.

So how was I able to get through this? Here’s what happened.

excited exciting here we go jimmy neutron aww yeah

Start Time: 12 A.M.

Hour 1-3: During this time, it was pretty easy not touching my phone since I was also in the process of freaking out over a bio exam that I felt so prepared for (not). Thus, I was studying non-stop, reading notes, lecture slides, and even the book. My mind was consumed by bio. So the first three hours weren’t too bad phone-wise at least, bio-wise it was pretty brutal.

Hour 3-7: Thank goodness I spent four hours sleeping because I did not feel any pain at all. This was probably one of the few times I didn’t have to use pure willpower to not touch my phone.  However, I really would’ve liked for more hours of sleep…

Hour 7: After waking up and now laying in bed, I reached for my phone automatically out of habit but quickly stopped myself when I remembered the challenge I was doing. Typically, I would go on my phone for a good half an hour before getting out of bed with the whole routine: Insta check, Facebook check, Snapchat check, repeat. I tried going back to sleep, but ended up tossing and turning the entire time. Eventually, I got out of bed and went about my day.

Hour 8-11: They say keeping yourself busy is the kind of thing to get your mind off of things. Boy, does that phrase hold some major truth. I had a bit of time before heading out to one of the many meetings I had to attend and of course, I did not want to wait by doing nothing. In order to get my phone out of my head, I started doing homework for my classes.

Hour 11-15: Finally, I was able to leave the house! Without my phone! This was an obstacle I didn’t even think about. Typically, I’d use my phone as a GPS in order to get from place to place. Instead, I was left to look up the directions the old fashion way: I printed out directions from Google Maps and headed out. This is definitely harder than it seems, and it made me realize I really took my phone for granted. I was trying to drive safely while reading a piece of paper (NOT easy). Regardless, it was doable, and I managed with the resources I had. PSA: don’t ever try multi-tasking while driving.

Don Verdean fail driving drive screaming

Hour 15: I had a bubble tea “date” at H.A. Café at UConn with one of my guy friends. We had planned this for a while now and luckily we had made a plan to meet at 3 P.M.  Not being able to shoot him a text to make sure he didn’t forget, something I always did when meeting with friends, gave me a bit of anxiety. Luckily for me, my friend was very punctual, so I didn’t even have to worry in the first place.

Hour 17: Whenever I'm not busy doing anything only a few people contact me so I get close to zero notifications. However, on days when I am busy, it seems like every single person on the planet needs to get in touch with me. That’s how it felt today. When I got home, I decided to take one look at my home screen (technically this isn't cheating) to see my notifications, and boy, it felt like I'd never have so many notifications in my life. I was getting text messages from my hometown friends, college friends, Snapchat notifications, etc. The worst part about it: I couldn’t answer any of them. I immediately regretted looking at my phone; it would’ve been so much better to have not.

Hour 18: My sister thought I was crazy for going through with this. She also didn't want to lose our 349 day streak on Snapchat. Did I succumb to the power of my phone? No, my sister ended up taking my phone and started snapchatting her account using my phone. Hey, I didn’t touch my phone, she did. Secretly, I was very thankful that I wasn’t going to lose any of my Snap-streaks (a very minimal worry in the grand scheme of things but come on, 350 days is an accomplishment).  Although by giving my sister my phone, she went in and changed my wallpaper.  Oh well, all's fair in love and war.

Hour 19-23: Honestly, I spent this time eating dinner, watching Teen Wolf, and catching up with the family. After a long week like this one, it was definitely nice to finally sit down and talk with my siblings and my parents.  Just sitting down and having an actual conversation was really nice. It certainly kept my mind off of my phone and I started to feel as if I could actually live without it.

excited yay happy dance wayne brady woo hoo

Hour 23: ♫ It's the final countdown! ♫  I take back my last statement: as much as I felt as if I could live without my phone, I can’t, nor will I want to. I just wanted this hour to fly so fast, but it was going by slower than the last day of school before summer vacation. Every ounce of my being wanted to have my phone in my grasp once more. However, I knew that I couldn’t do that to myself because I'd made it so far already. I asked my sister to hide my phone for this hour and I did random things around the house to keep my mind off of it like homework, random dancing, and cleaning (yes, even cleaning). Just one more hour to go.

Hour 24: This hour had me feeling like Leo DiCaprio winning his Oscar because we both are pretty successful.  Him with his Oscar win and me with my 24 hour accomplishment.  That's the same thing right?.. Well, I can certainly dream.  I can now proudly say that this challenge was an absolute success.

End Time: 12:02 A.M 

The Oscars happy excited leonardo dicaprio oscars 2016

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience, it's that going about my everyday life without a phone is absolutely doable. I found that I was more focused and I was able to get more things done throughout the day. I was able to have interactions with people without having to worry about my phone disrupting the conversations. To me, that was probably my favorite thing about the whole experiment. This whole experience has opened my eyes and made me realize that there is so much I don’t pay attention to when my eyes are on my phone 24/7. That is a lesson I'm surely going to keep for the future and make it a point to pay more attention to what is going on around me than what is going on on my phone.

That being said, the chance of me going through this again by personal choice is highly unlikely.  While it's great to have a bit of time without your phone, they can also help you throughout your day and it's hard to be socially connected nowadays without one. At least I now know that I do have what it takes to live without my phone if need be.





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