On January 14, 2016, I participated in a twenty four hour technology blackout, disconnecting from any device used for information and communication. Every morning after waking up, I usually spend ten to fifteen minutes visiting all my social media applications, such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. However, waking up on Saturday morning, I stared at the ceiling and did not quite know what to do with myself. As my roommate laughed at me, I struggled and fought the urge not to grab my phone. Instead, I jumped out of bed sooner than I normally would, and got dressed quickly. Since I live close to USC, I chose to go home for the day so I would not worry my family since they would not be able to hear from me. Once I arrived at my house, my mom promptly took my phone away and hid it from me, so I would not be tempted to use my device. I found myself having withdrawals as soon as I did not have my iPhone in my hand anymore. It felt uncomfortable not to have it on me, almost like I was constantly missing something. My parents decided to put me to work, and have me spend my time working on chores I normally would not participate in. I spent several hours organizing and cleaning out my room, sorting through piles of clothes and trinkets that I no longer want anymore. I then joined my parents and visited my grandfather, who is very old fashioned and does not have wifi or own a smartphone. I chatted with my grandpa for an hour or two, engaging in conversations that I will remember forever. After half a day without my phone, I stopped missing it. In fact, I completely forgot about not having my phone or access to technology. I was enjoying myself without my technology ball and chain, since I did not have to spend my time keeping up with the world. Instead, I focused on myself. Once I returned from my grandfather’s house, I put all my focus and energy into analyzing a television script for my cinema class. I was able to analyze the script without any distractions, allowing myself to find errors the writers had made. I then spent my time painting an antique arrow for my room. Painting is an activity I rarely spend my time doing, but I found it very soothing and relaxing. I spent the rest of the night talking to my parents. I realized that many of us take time spent with our family for granted. Not having technology made me connect with everyone and enjoy having conversations about life then and now. At the end of the day, I felt more relaxed than stressed. I suffer from extreme anxiety, so this sense of relaxation was refreshing. I believe that not being bombarded with constant news and information allowed me to enjoy the simple things in life.
On January 25, 2016, I switched back to my normal technology driven ways and began my morning checking my iPhone. Not only did I have to check what was new that morning, but I also had to go back twenty four hours and see what I missed from the day before. After scrolling through my phone for about thirty minutes, I was ready to start the day. Not even thirty minutes later though, I was back on my phone playing the game Candy Crush, which I have developed an embarrassing addiction to. As the day went on, I noticed I was on my phone all the time. I was on my phone as I played mini golf, as I sat in the car while my boyfriend drove, while shopping at whole foods, and almost the whole night at my house. For about an hour my boyfriend and I sat on the couch together but did not speak to each other, as we were both so engulfed in our technology devices. Then before bed, I wasted another hour playing Candy Crush again. Every time I beat a level, I put off sleep more and more. I realized that when I had access to technology, it controlled my life. If I had a minute of boredom or did not know what to do with myself, I immediately went to my phone, as if it would give me some relief. However, it did not give me relief whatsoever. Checking twitter and constantly having to refresh because there was new information and news, overwhelmed me. I felt as though I had to keep up when in reality I do not. Although I missed information on Trump’s meeting with Steve Harvey, Urban Outfitters and the Ringling Brothers Circus closing, and SNL’s hilarious parody on Trump, I realized that knowing these facts did not make me feel any better. Instead, I was anxious over the fear of another Trump mistake. Participating in this blackout was the best thing for myself. Disconnecting allowed me to engage in conversations and activities I normally would not want to participate in. I also as a result of no media, was much more relaxed and calm, and able to enjoy the peace and quiet. Although I may not be able to completely participate in a blackout on a daily basis, I plan to disconnect from technology more often and really experience everything life has to offer.