Purpose of this Assignment
Our class was assigned the task of taking 24-hours to completely unplug from all screens. This included cell phones, computers, and television.
When we were first given this task, flashbacks of my travels in foreign countries flew into my brain. This past summer I visited Panama for 8-days and Wi-Fi was very limited. The whole week was a detox from the digital world, although some days I got to binge when the hotel Wi-Fi was more reliable than usual.
This assignment was different, however. The USC students were already a week into their classes which meant that I had to take time off from school work and post-winter break socialization for an entire day.
Part A: Leaving the Technology
I completed my experiment on Friday, January 13, 2017.
My main takeaway from the day was that when you are the only person in a group without your phone, you realize how much other people use their phones.
While I was detached, I found myself wanted to engage in conversation with those around me. I found it hard to do so because even when you are one-on-one with a person it is very likely that they are going to pull out their device at some point during the conversation.
In a situation where I would talk to a friend that was working on their computer, I found it awkward that I did not have my Mac Book in front of me. With the other person working, I found it hard to know when the right and wrong times to hold conversation were so that I would not interrupt them from their work.
When I was not around people, I found myself reaching for my phone out of habit, not because I necessarily needed anything. I really want to know if grabbing my phone became habitual so that I could always be connected or always be able to avoid that one-on-one interaction.
A positive that I took from the day is that it is okay to not know everything that is going on in the world for a little bit, even if you are a journalism major. I found it peaceful to not hear about a terrorist attack, police shooting, or middle eastern war for a little bit of time. Because of the high frequency of these events, they either desensitize people to violence or just make people frustrated with the world we live in. Taking the time off allowed me to think about how peaceful those must be in other countries that may not even own a cell phone or computer.
Being without technology also made me realize if that something significant happens, you will be able to find out without your phone. The most vital things are spread by word of mouth and you cannot avoid those types of news unless you locked yourself away for the 24-hour period. Sometimes Twitter and Facebook feeds are just drowning its users with useless news that will be forgotten in moments.
Part B: Getting it All Back
I was very happy to log back into Snapchat Saturday morning even after my thorough self-reflections on Friday.
Going from Friday to Saturday was not as drastic of a transition as when I have traveled in the past. It was easier for me to transition back into gaining missed news after the one day period. The times I have been away from information longer, I had to force myself to be efficient when catching up by focusing on any big events that happened rather than small details like a friend’s Snapchat story.
Because I had time to research the small details that I missed, throughout the day I scrolled a little bit farther back than I usually would on a day-to-day basis. I realized that I use different platforms to get different types of information.
When I was on Twitter, I read commentary from my friends in addition to the news outlets that I follow in one cohesive feed. On Snapchat, I got to watch the trending Discover feed––thank goodness for the 24-hour standing time because I would have missed the food network recipe on hot sauce. And Instagram allowed me to see what my friends decided to do on the first weekend of the spring semester.
Outside of social media, I had to catch up on my USC email address to see if I missed any blackboard updates, club meetings, or on-campus events.
The point of this all is that social media provides us with basic text and visual information. Of course, there are variations but it adopts how we see things around us and places it into our finger tips. I also noticed (the quite-obvious) that almost every daily task I have as a student requires some use of technology, whether it is typing up a paper, designing something on the Adobe Suite or signing up for a networking event.
Technology has completely flipped the way that people are interacting with each other. Younger generations are losing inter-personal skills and older generations are finding it harder to connect to the upcoming ones. I think that everyone should work to find a balance of time online and time offline so that we can continue to interact with each other.
It is very noticeable that people use technology as a crutch for communication. For example, it is easier for a student to send an email to a professor instead of asking the question face to face. And most would rather send a quick text message instead of making a phone call.