My phone feels oddly heavy in my hand as I scroll through dozens of notifications. This isn’t any ordinary afternoon – this is the first afternoon in 30 days that I have had access to my normal phone and social media. For the past month, I embarked on a phone cleanse.
So what exactly do I mean by phone cleanse, why would I choose to do it, and what are the benefits? Disclaimer – I did not go completely tech-free. I used a phone that only had calling and texting capabilities, but had no access to the internet or social media apps. Going completely phone free wasn’t realistic for me at the time, so that’s a challenge for another day. After more and more research about the negative impacts of social media and cell phones, I felt that I would benefit from taking a step back from technology. My school was offering a program for those who wished to participate in a technology cleanse. They offered several different levels with some being as simple as deleting social media apps, while others involved giving up your phone completely. As I mentioned before, I chose to use a phone that had no internet or social media capabilities.
I chose to take part in this challenge because I was increasingly worried that my technology use had disrupted my mental health and sleep patterns. I really wanted to give this program a try because I knew that it was going to be beneficial, but I couldn’t have predicted just how much it would impact me. Initially, my main reservation in participating was the fear of missing out. Ultimately, I realized that this was an opportunity to disconnect, which I may not have again, and the pros seemed to outweigh the cons.
Initially, when beginning the challenge, I only realized a few negative differences. In fact, I almost entirely noticed positive differences- I was sleeping better and going to bed earlier. However, it was on the weekends and during my free time that I noticed the most significant difference. Suddenly, I was without the distraction that social media provided. Through this, I saw myself grow closer to my friends and my relationships strengthened. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through photos and captions, I would socialize more. I felt like I was happier and I noticed I was in a good mood more often than before.
However, what surprised me most was that when I returned to my normal phone, I didn’t feel a flood of relief or anxiety about what I missed. Instead, I simply saw it as a communication device. The change in my relationship with my phone was the biggest benefit of this whole experience. I no longer felt dependent on it, nor did I feel like I couldn’t live without social media.
In conclusion, I think that we can get so caught up in the technology that we believe governs our lives. But if you take a step back, you may realize just how fun life can be without the constant presence of your cell phone.