Nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and the majority of us use our smartphone more than five hours a day on average. For the record, we love our phones. Mer uses GPS legit everywhere she goes, and Mol is addicted to Spotify. That being said, we understand the downsides. Studies show that increased screen time can increase negative emotions (re: FOMO when Facebook scrolling), stress levels and eye problems, and a decrease in feelings of connection and productivity.
Enter the technology cleanse. The tech cleanse is a counter-trend that emerged in the past few years where people practice totally unplugging for various periods of time. This past Sunday, we decided to give it a try. It’s typically cell phone centric, but we decided to take it a step farther and ban all screens including our computers, IPads, tablets, and televisions. Our friend Kayla from @cincyfitfoodie decided to do it with us. Here’s a chronicle of our freakouts and learnings, and then Kayla’s reactions and thoughts. The first world problems were real.
No one owns an alarm clock anymore.
The initial freak out came when we realized we didn’t have alarm clocks. We usually use our phones. We ended up turning our phones on airplane mode and still using them as our alarm clock so we could be sure to make our 9am workout.
Also, no one wears a watch anymore.
After our 9AM workout, we went to Aster for brunch and arrived before it opened. How early? We didn’t know. We had to ask a person on the street. Gasp, talk to an actual stranger! We’ve totally lost this art as a society.
You can’t cancel plans on people.
In a world where we’re constantly connected, it’s all too easy to send a last minute text to bail on a lunch date, meeting, or coffee. We’re all guilty, of texting “don’t kill me, but….” Before we turned our phones off, we text a number of pals saying we’d be at Aster for brunch at 11AM. Our friend Gina said she’d meet us there then. One mimosa and appetizer in we guessed G wasn’t coming. When she walked in it was an awesome surprise. She explained she was running late, and obviously couldn't text us, but felt like she had to come because she committed to it. Revolutionary.
We use our cell phones as a habitual crutch, and Google, you run the world.
There were a thousand times throughout the day that we each habitually reached for our phones. Sometimes it was to share something with the other person or to check our calendars to make plans, but more often than not it was because there was a lull in the convo, one person went to the bathroom and the other was sitting alone, or because we were bored and wanted to see what the rest of the world was doing. So many of these instances were subconscious reactions due to habit. This awareness is totally something we want to take away from this experiment.
Also, google you win. No joke, countless times during the day we reached to “just Google the answer,” to questions. You and Beyonce run this world.
Putting down the phones helped us be totally in the moment.
Once the anxiety of not being reachable wore off (sorry to our sig. others), we realized that losing these tech tools made us be more present and in the moment. We shared savory food, delicious drinks, and great convo while sitting on the couch at Aster for hours. We recapped Mer’s Paris trip (sadly without pictures), and talked about topics all across the board. After lunch, we decided to physically stop by a friend’s place downtown because, well, we couldn't call to see what they were up to, and we wanted to hang. Remember when you had to ride your bike to your friend's house to see if they could play? It was a little like that.
Our self-care increased.
After we left each other, typically we would go home, power up our laptops and do some work on the website, prep for the week ahead by shooting out a few emails, or plop on the couch and watch some reality tv. Without any of these options, we found ourselves cleaning, making a cup of tea, and getting to bed early.
Kayla had very similar reactions to not having her smartphone. Her resolution moving forward is something we are also going to try. To quote Kayla: “ I think it's something that I'll commit to doing more regularly. Even if it's just for a few hours each night, the time we give to just ourselves is irreplaceable and oftentimes, we waste time checking our phone for messages and emails that we haven’t even gotten yet and that anticipation/anxiety can only do more harm than good.”
All in all, the experience was challenging as heck, but we learned a thing or two about our addictive habits. Compulsively checking our phones was the glaring issue, as well as relying on it for entertainment regardless of who we were with or what we were doing. By powering down, we were able to power up our experiences.