Taking a Digital Detour

Laura Nicolescu, Co-Editor-in-Chief

This past summer, I decided to purposefully torture myself to prove a point. Radical, I know. Instead of enjoying my summer and spending my days mindlessly browsing the Internet and listening to music, I decided to test my limits and go through a day with no technology. At all.

Yep. That means no phone, no TV, no computer, nothing. The night before, I hid my phone in a corner on silent, shut down my laptop, and hid the TV remote.

Why put myself through this torture? I wanted to see if I would go mad and therefore prove the extreme reliance of humans on technology (using me as the case study, but hey, I never said I was a scientist), or if I would find ways to keep myself busy and actually enjoy my day.

Here are my hour by hour results:

12:00 p.m.: I woke up. No, I’m not proud of it, but with no alarm to wake me up, I slept until I woke up naturally. And that, apparently, happened to be at noon.

12:15 p.m.: Took out a pen and paper and began writing about my day.

12:16 p.m.: Mentally groaned at having to hand write instead of type.

12:18 p.m. A wishful glance at my laptop and phone on the floor next to me.

12:20 p.m.: Realized how lonely and quiet the house is. Realized I can’t spell lonely without autocorrect.

12:30 p.m.: Time for “breakfast.” As I eat, I’ll read one of my books for school without constantly checking my phone next to me. I can do it, right?

1:30 p.m.: I wonder what Trump’s been up to today.

2:15 p.m.: Time to shoot trash baskets. Oh look. I made one.

2:30 p.m.: I’ll go take a shower. Yes, it’s 2:30 p.m. Yolo. I wonder if people still say that. I wouldn’t know, since I’ve been disconnected from the world for the past 14 hours and 45 minutes.

3:00 p.m.: I start imagining what my life would be like if I quit school and decided to become a rapper. Just kidding, Dr. Maphies. I would never do that. Probably.

3:16 p.m.: I wonder who colluded with Russia today.

3:17 p.m.: Look, a car passed by. Oh look, another one. That’s the most activity I’ve seen on this street since that one time the mailman came.

3:20 p.m.: Since I’m so committed to this no technology thing, I decide I should get the most out of it by completely clearing my mind and meditating. I begin imagining a stream carrying away all my worries. But the stream is dirty. And what’s that floating in the middle? And where are all these fish going? I open my eyes. Never mind.

3:25 p.m.: What if no one emailed or texted? No one cares about me after all. Not even Pinterest?

3:30 p.m.: Time to stare at my reflection in the mirror.

3:36 p.m.: Maybe I should take a nap. I am very tired, after all.

3:45 p.m.: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

4:00 p.m.: My mom came home from work. Time to sit with her in awkward silence without the TV on. She turns to me and goes, “I know you’re committed to this, but why do I have to suffer?” Hate to break it to you, mom, but you caused the suffering 17 years ago.

4:45 p.m.: Turns out my mother is a nice lady. Who knew.

5:00 p.m.: The nomophobia is real.

At around 5:00 p.m., I gave up and decided to watch the news, and thus somewhat concluded my torture, although I still didn’t touch my phone or my laptop the rest of the day.

I did, however, come up with some important findings:

First of all, technology became the “forbidden fruit,”— not being able to use any made me want to use it even more. I probably wasn’t even going to use technology as much as I thought I would but the mere fact that I couldn’t have it made me imagine it was the most important thing in my life.

I also never realized how much I relied on technology to keep me both entertained and informed until it was taken away. Technology can be a great way to keep us connected to the world, but when entire hours and days are spent entertaining ourselves with electronic devices and screens, and we have become so reliant on technology that we are unable to entertain ourselves in any other way, it’s time to take a step back.

As our Titan Time last week discussed, taking a digital detox can have some unexpected benefits. A digital detox can help us find a healthy balance in tech use, help us clear our heads since we are not constantly interrupted by a beeping and buzzing phone, break the reward cycles that we fuel with our incessant checking of smartphones, social media and email, help us connect to ourselves and the people around us, provide a challenge for ourselves to see if we can stay away from technology, help us stay productive, and allow us to have experiences for the sake of the experience, not for the sake of posting on social media. Most of all, a digital detox can help us feel free.

While I would never give up technology and while I will never repeat my tortuous experiment again, my experience did make me realize that yes, it is possible to live without technology, even if it’s only for one day. It also helped me realize that while we may not like the idea of it, we all need to take a step back from technology every once in awhile.

So this winter break, Titans, unplug, look up, say hi to your mom, then go back to using the new devices you got for Christmas. But don’t ever get so reliant on technology that it becomes your life, and everything you do revolves around electronic screens that at the end of the day, are meaningless compared to our personal connections and memories.