So, for the past two weeks I embarked on a revolutionary mission—living without my phone. Okay, maybe not that revolutionary. To be clear, I didn’t just turn my phone off and never look back (I wanted to do that, but it wasn’t realistic), I simply went on a social media cleanse. In the past I have attempted similar cleanses, but this time was different. Instead of just logging off of social media sites I deleted all of them off my phone. I also put my phone on do not disturb for majority of the day.
The first thing I discovered, I’d like to call it the Zack Morris response (not sure if this already exists but I was pretty proud of the name). You know how in Saved by the Bell, Zack always stops mid show to explain something, it’s kind of how I felt with not having social media. After deleting everything, I realized that when I had social media I had some sort of urge to stop what I was doing and post trivial things about my day. Some examples include “When you walk and eat like a true New Yorker” and “Williamstown Squirrels have no respect…probably equivalent to Pigeons in Manhattan”. Honestly, these are things that most people could care less about, but I always posted. I call it the Zack Morris response because I feel like with social media we always have to freeze frame and interact with our “audience members”.
Another thing that I noticed is the small amounts of time that add up just checking your phone. I realized I always have my phone in my hand or close by where I could see it. Without social media I didn’t waste 15-20 minutes in the morning before I actually get out of bed. I actually went to bed on time because I wasn’t scrolling through Instagram and constantly checking every single app and feed before I could feel like I could sleep. The small increments of free time actually allowed me to do a little more German language practice. I used some time to read and write. I feel like without social media, I had so much more time to do things that had absolutely nothing to do with my phone.
It was weird not checking my phone and helped me realize that I am less attached to my phone and attached to the social interactions that came with having a phone. I think that having social media can trigger a serious case of FOMO. It’s only serious because you can fall into the trap of feeling like you are missing out on all 700-1000 of your follower’s live. Sometimes all you’re missing out on is the flavor of Lee’s gelato they just ate. Did you really care about that in the first place? I tried to ask multiple people how much time they think they spend on their phones daily and the answers ranged between 3-5 hours a day. Now this is modest because according to a new study at Baylor University, students spend an average of 8-10 hours a day on the cell phone. Imagine what you could do with some of that time?
The worst part of this experience was realizing how much I felt pressured to need my phone. It felt like everyone around me wasn’t making my cleanse any easier. Everyone either needed me to check an email, check my messages, or just watch some video to stay in the loop. It was as if the only way I could feel connected to people who lived literally 2 minutes away from me, was to be on my phone. Hopefully, you will also try a cleanse. My cleanse really allowed me to appreciate how beautiful Williamstown in the Fall. I smiled and spoke with a lot more people on my way to classes. I liked getting meals with people and having some sort of one on one contact because it was as if I hadn’t seen them in weeks. This cleanse was definitely a great experience and I plan on doing it again until Thanksgiving.