Culture

It’s the time of year where we say our thanks to the things we’ve taken for granted, and being without a phone for the second time this semester has caused me to realize all the things I’m truly thankful for when it comes to my phone. Being without a phone has made me acknowledge not only the many things I take for granted regarding my phone, but also the things that having a phone has caused me to take for granted. Here are some things I’ve become thankful for that may just influence you to put your phone down for a couple of hours this holiday season.

1. Reminders

I’m always busy, and with being busy comes needing a way to stay organized and on top of things. My phone has all of my alarms, appointments, birthdays, and random notes in it in order to keep my daily life together. Being without it has definitely made me thankful for my little partner in crime!

2. Email

After missing out on the email for my 8:30am class being cancelled and getting up and lugging myself to class, I have definitely taken having access to email on my phone for granted. Being able to have my email on my phone allows me to check it straight when I get up; along with any cancellations that go with it!

3. Social Media

Not being able to Instagram on the daily may or may not be causing me to have withdrawals. Social media helps me keep in touch with my friends at school, as well as my friends and family at home. Being without easy access to all my social media sites has made it a lot more difficult for me to stay up-to-date on everyone’s lives.

4. Nature

Though being without a phone has given me my share of hardships, it has also helped me to realize how beautiful my campus truly is. Instead of scrolling through my feeds while walking to class, instead I look around and notice the beautiful flowers, trees, and architecture that I so easily took for granted.

5. Friends

My relationships with those who are my true friends, as well as my family, clearly deepened without a phone involved. It brought back emailing and direct messaging on Twitter, which although may be annoying, shows me who my true friends are when having to make an effort. It has also pushed me to spend more time talking to my friends and family face-to-face rather than texting them 24/7. Not having a phone has allowed me to be more social and have better relationships in general.

Though having a phone is a great thing that many of us take for granted, it’s also important to acknowledge the little things that we overlook when we’re absorbed in our screens.

Image: Jonathan Velasquez

Culture

With a bigger screen and a slimmer body, the iPhone 6 is at the forefront of news today. Companies like Apple have cornered the market on technology, with owning an iPhone becoming a social norm.  However, this makes me wonder why such large companies like Apple choose to waver back and forth between menial physical characteristics, like screen size, rather than focus on serious technological advancements?

Apple and Co. possess the most power and means of evolving the technical side of phone production and use, and yet their time is geared toward the technological phenotypes. Financial gain is the impetus behind Apple and other phone companies focusing on smaller issues. Satisfying the public’s demand of larger screens is cheaper than, say, the demand for better battery power. Apple focuses all publicity on appeasing these fewer requests while appearing as though they are at the forefront of technological advancements.

It’s the foot-in-the-door phenomenon in real life: by satisfying more basic demands, these companies expect the public to comply with buying their expensive products. However, this approach is detrimental. Like a politician looking for re-election, Apple and other hegemonic companies are thinking about the short term: financial gain over scientific growth. There is no such thing as a new and improved phone these days; by changing the screen size or the accessibility of certain applications, phone production companies have fooled the masses into believing that advancements are being made.

For example, I checked Google for comparisons between the new iPhone 6 and its competitors, the Nexus 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. The consensus was that all of the phones performed the same functions relatively, with the major difference being in screen size. If the only contrast in these products is screen size, which is still a nice commodity, then consumers have been conned.  Reiterating what was said earlier, financial gain is the impetus behind cellular phone production, and will continue to be so long as the public believes that buying newer models of phones is upgrading in terms of technical abilities.

Image: Carlos Hergueta, Flickr

CultureEducationInspiration

We’ve all been there. We’re checking our phones before we go to sleep, in the middle of the night, and as soon as we wake up. We glance at our phones to see if we have any new emails or text messages even when there isn’t an alert or notification. We send texts, scroll through Instagram, read new status updates on Facebook, and get lost in the black hole that is Reddit. From our waking moment until shut-eye, we live a good portion of our day through small screens. It’s easy to get burned out from technology and the constant access to one another. The information available is overwhelming, and technology never sleeps. It is a 24/7 beast that never loosens its grip, that is, until you make it. This leads us to our trick that has helped us recharge when we feel consumed by cell phones, apps, laptops, tablets, and other gadgets that have monopolized our attention.

The trick to recharge yourself is to unplug. Unplug from the constant communication and attention hog that is technology. Obviously we’re not saying to give technology up forever, but press those ‘Off’ buttons on your laptop, cell phones, tablets, and other gadgets you might use, for an afternoon, an evening, or even for an entire day! Without distractions in the form of buzzing, beeping, and red flashing lights, you can actually enjoy the present moment and let your mind power down for a short while. To unplug, simply switch the off buttons on your devices, put them in a drawer or another room (out of sight, out of mind), and plan activities that will keep you active and away from technology. When you allow yourself to step away from being constantly accessible, give yourself more ‘you’ time, and choose to engage in-person rather than on text or Instagram, you’ll feel recharged and ready to go.

Besides recharging and preventing burnout, here are some more examples of great benefits of unplugging if you still aren’t convinced to give up your iPhone for a couple of hours:

More You Time

Instead of spending most of your time reacting to phone alerts, use your time to focus on yourself. Maybe that involves going for a jog, listening to music, cooking, reading, or just catching up on some much needed zzz’s. Listen to your body and give yourself more ‘you’ time.

Build In-Person Relationships

A TIME mobility poll showed that 17% of all poll respondents said they check their phone at every meal regardless of whom they’re dining with. Instead of being distracted and glued to who is trying to reach you by phone, pay attention to the people physically around you. Get to know people in-person rather than through text. These relationships you build face-to-face will be much more valuable than the ones you build online.

Feel Less Stressed

You hear a buzz or beep and immediately reach for your phone. Whether it’s an email or a text, you might feel the need to respond to someone or take care of the issue immediately. If multiple texts or emails come in, there are more responsibilities now added to your plate. The stress and to-dos add up quickly.

Experience the Present

You’ve seen others do it and you’ve done it yourself: walking and texting. When you walk and text or just spend a lot of time on technology in general, you miss out on the amazing things happening around you. You miss the beauty of a flower garden, a potential new friend walking by, and awe-inspiring architecture. When you need directions, instead of asking someone for help and engaging with another human, it has become far too easy to use an app to locate your Point B. Join and experience the present sans technology, and who knows what you’ll see and discover.

Sleep Better

Try sleeping with your phone not next to your head. Instead, charge your phone in the kitchen or bathroom. This way you won’t be tempted to roll over in the middle of the night and check your text messages. This might also help prevent your phone from being the last thing you see before you get some shut eye. Furthermore, the light from phones and laptop screens affects the production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, in our bodies. In turn, your sleep will be delayed and you will feel tired, cranky, and unproductive the next day.

Be Happier

Live your own life. Stop comparing your life to the highlight reel that you see on your friends’ news feeds and statuses. Remember that people post only the best photos and updates on their profiles, and what you see are edited and curated portions of their life. You’re not seeing what’s behind-the-scenes. Social media can make us feel lonely and jealous, both of which do not make us happier. When you experience the present and stop living your life through your screens, you will feel happier.

Be More Productive

Without the constant distraction of technology, information, and communication, you just might get more done. Unplug so you don’t have to worry about multitasking or responding to anyone. Focus on your tasks. When you don’t have beeps and buzzes pulling your attention in other directions, you will accomplish more.

Have you ever tried unplugging for an afternoon?