Published on March 27, 2017, at 8:13 a.m.
by Clara Balestrieri.
As I woke up to the ring of the alarm on my computer, I reached over to my nightstand to grab for my phone when I remembered that it was gone. The first thought that popped into my head that morning was to check my phone. Unfortunately, it was pick pocketed in New Orleans, but that’s another story.
It did not take me long to realize the dependency we have on our mobile devices, and not having a phone definitely helped my case. Our phones give us the freedom and instant capability to connect with the rest of the world on a daily basis, all the time.
According to a fact sheet released by the Pew Research Center in January 2017, “The vast majority of Americans – 95% – now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%, up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011.”
It’s obvious isn’t it? As millennials, we are often defined by the devices in our hands. Sometimes we don’t realize how much information we consume daily through our phones. From the weather to getting news updates, we have everything we could possibly need, don’t we?
When I did not have my phone, I was constantly reminded of all of the features and applications phones and smart devices have to offer. As a public relations major, communication is a vital aspect of our studies. Having the ability to call or text someone and stay in contact with people you communicate with on a daily basis is essential.
When it came to social media, most of it is accessible online but many features that the phones have are not featured on the web. I mostly use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. Online with Instagram, you are able to like pictures but you can not edit photos, upload pictures or use direct messages. Facebook and Twitter are as accessible online as they are on phones. Snapchat is not available online at all.
Without having the luxury of a mobile device to connect me to the digital world, set an alarm to wake up for class, open Spotify for music to listen to while I go to the gym, or even write an important “note” down was a challenge. I had to start relying on email and Facebook Messenger whenever I had my computer open to stay in communication. I then realized how much my phone was a part of my social and digital existence.
It was challenging not having a phone at times, but when my new phone came in the mail I was honestly not as excited as I thought I would be. Without my phone, I genuinely noticed my surroundings much more than I had previously with the device. Safe to say, I felt free without it.
As I was walking to and from class, the amount of students with their heads down looking at their phones amazed me. I did not see one person within my mile-and-a-half walk to class without a phone in their hand. As I was sitting at dinner with my friends throughout the week, I found myself staring into the abyss at points as they all checked Instagram and texts on their phones.
Not having a phone to constantly hold and check all of the time was frustrating, yet refreshing. In the beginning, I was glued to my computer. After a few days passed, I would only check my email and began to leave my computer at home instead of taking it everywhere I went.
The world is such a beautiful place, it is truly insightful to sit back and cherish the finer things in life — even if it includes a four-hour car ride back to Tuscaloosa from New Orleans. I was able to look out the window at my surroundings and actually appreciate the beautiful roads of Louisiana.
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right balance. Realistically in this day and age we cannot live without our phones, but fundamentally it is possible. It comes down to finding a healthy, yet proactive balance. Receiving information and current events is necessary, but walking across the street with your head down is not. Try prioritizing what you look through on your phone; start by turning off notifications for specific applications.
We don’t have to be defined by our mobile devices anymore. Don’t be afraid to put your phone down; maybe leave it at home for the day. See how it goes. I promise you will live.