I Dare You…

After reading Larissa’s blog post this week, it inspired me to write my own. As much as I believe technology plays a vital role in education, and in society, I think there is a need to set limits and to experience what it feels like to unplug. What are we doing to ourselves when we are constantly staring at a screen, unconsciously checking social media, or sending text after text? Are we losing the ability to have social interaction by becoming too dependent on technology? Why has it become the norm to document everything on social media? What message is this sending? How much of life are we truly missing out on?

I encourage you to check out the video below that I found on Joshua Becker’s blog, Becoming a Minimalist (7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space). It is a realistic representation of how attached society has become to their smartphones.

Here is a journal entry from my time volunteering in Costa Rica:

Today I am really thinking about the role technology plays in my life and the life of others in Canada. Why have we become a culture that is so dependent on our phones and on social media? What role does it really play? I am questioning how much life I miss out on when using my phone. As I sat with my host family showing them pictures of my family and friends back home, I started to reconsider how I spend my time with friends and family. What would it be like to meet up with friends and leave our cellphones in our pockets? Is that a realistic expectation back home? One thing I can say for sure is that living without technology has made me realize how much time is wasted in a day on social media and how quickly life can pass by. Here, in Providencia, the days go by slower and I am able to appreciate every second for what it is worth. Soon I will not be able to sit and visit with my host family looking out at the lush green mountains that have clouds hanging over them.

Since returning home from Costa Rica, I noticed how easy it was to fall back into the craze of social media and how quickly I became attached to my phone. I decided I needed to make a change in my life. I found that I was checking facebook way too often throughout the day. Sometimes I did not even recognize that I was checking facebook, which is somewhat scary. For the past three months, my phone has been facebook free. I find that I only go on facebook about two to three times a week now. I also try to be more conscious of the time I spend on my phone, using social media, and other forms of technology. Here are a few things I have noticed:

  • I no longer find myself scrolling through my news feeds before bed; as a result, I have noticed I fall asleep faster and feel more rested.
  • As an avid reader, I have found I have more time (or make more time) to read!
  • I no longer feel the need to check facebook constantly.
  • I feel like I don’t waste as much time on social media and have more time to experience what is happening right in front of my eyes; in other words, spend more time LIVING.

I want to make myself clear. I am not saying that you should never use social media or technology. I’m saying that you need to find a balance. I do not think you can truly understand how much of life you are spending on social media until you omit it from your life for a period of time. So, I DARE YOU to disconnect. Whether it is facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other form, I encourage you to try a digital detox. My goal is to do a complete digital detox over the break where I do not use my phone or laptop for a few days while I am at home visiting my family. I want to use this time to take a break from school, connect with my family, and live in the moment.

What do you think? Do you think we have become too attached to our phones and missing out on what is happening right in front of our eyes? Are you up for a digital detox? It can be something as simple as taking a break from one form of social media. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but I promise that you will notice a difference.


20 thoughts on “I Dare You…

  1. Ryan, so glad that I inspired you to write an article based on the same idea! Your journal entry from Costa Rica is truly insightful! Thanks for sharing. Just wondering if there were any moments on your trip where you wanted to be using your phone? I found, that at the start of my trip I was wishing that I had my phone, but as it went on I grew increasingly happy to be living in the moment!

  2. I can relate to the same experience. At the start of the trip, it was an odd and sometimes uncomfortable feeling not using my phone on a regular basis. As I think about it, it is disturbing how our phone becomes a normalized part of our daily life. After a few days of living without my phone, I stopped checking my pockets for my phone and would often leave it at my host families house for the day. I actually found that I enjoyed not using my phone, especially because there was no influence to use it in the culture I was living in. It’s crazy how quickly you can adjust to change and begin to notice the difference it makes in your life.

  3. Ryan,
    Thanks for sharing! I love how you included your journal entry and pictures from Costa Rica in this blog post.

    I definitely agree with your point that using phones has become a normalized part of daily life and that over-using them can waste a lot of time in our day. However, I’m wondering if there is a difference between wasting time on social media and using social media productively (as a means to connect with others, discuss important topics, share articles, etc.)? Do you think our goal should be to use social media more productively or do you think it’s important to disconnect altogether?

    • Thanks for your comment Raquel. I definitely think there is a difference between using social media productively and unproductively. I know when I find myself over-using social media I no longer feel productive and feel as though I am “wasting” time. I think using social media more productively is a valid goal. However, my point is that there is something to be said for a complete disconnect from technology all together. It’s almost meditating and it is rejuvenating to see how connected you become with yourself and your feelings. I’m not saying that disconnecting makes you more human; I think technology is a part of our life, and a significant part for that matter. I’m simply saying that it is an enriching experience to turn off the phone and laptop for a few days to experience the discomfort and refreshing feelings of solitude.

  4. Wow Ryan,
    Thank you for sharing this, it was really inspiring. I can completely relate, I was in England for 6 months with no phone and I felt so good to be able to connect with the people around me as well as the environment I was in. I wanted to try and not have a phone when I got back but found it impossible and also soon fell back into the swing of technology.
    Thanks to your blog I am going to take your dare and delete some social media apps, I am going to try and forget my phone. Your blog post was a real inspiration and thought provoking thank you!.

    • Thank you Hannah! It is definitely an eye-opening experience when you have the chance to go abroad and experience life without technology. I don’t think it is realistic to live here without a phone. It is a part of our culture and society. I just think we need to be aware of how we are using our phone. Is it being used productively? Something I am constantly asking myself. Thanks for your response!

  5. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Ryan! I completely agree with the opinions about technology that you shared within your post. Sometimes I feel like technology has taken over my life. When I have spare time, I often find myself picking up my phone and going on social media instead of using my time to do something that relaxes me, like reading or practicing yoga. I also find that in social situations as soon as an awkward silence comes up, I immediately feel nervous and pick up my phone for something to do. Have you ever felt like you have “hidden” behind technology? I’m looking forward to hearing more about your digital detox!

    • I definitely have experienced hiding behind technology Ashton, and I think this is kind of a funny offshoot of how technology changes the way we interact. I’ve had conversations with my good friend about this and we both have concluded that sometimes silence is nice when shared with the company of friends… but I think this idea has kind of been lost. I don’t know if that’s because our lives are so fast paced due to technology or the idea that Alec was talking about how we are all multi-tasking and overstimulated in our day-to-day lives. For sure though, it’s an interesting idea and something to be cognizant of in our lives. Good point to share, thanks.

    • Thank you for your thoughts Ashton. I think you bring an enlightening point to this conversation. I can definitely relate to the idea of “hiding” behind my phone. I have been in social situations where I pick up my phone and go onto social media because it provides a comfort. I just spent the last three days logged off of social media and my laptop. I found that I spent more time conversing with my parents, I did a lot of reading, and with the weather we have been having I even spent an afternoon sitting on my deck in silence. I notice that anytime I have my laptop open I feel like I need to be working on some sort of school work. I often feel over-stimulated because I have multiple school assignments on the go and don’t know what I should work on first. This detox was simply a way to reconnect with myself. Not allowing myself to open my laptop or be on social media gave me the time to refresh and sit with my thoughts. Technology plays a significant role in our lives, I just think that when we take a break, it has an affect on an individual that cannot be explained in words.

  6. What an awesome post Ryan. Thank-you for sharing this!! I wholeheartedly agree with your experience and your insights. It’s always such a great practice to keep in mind being PRESENT in the moment rather than documenting it or spending the entire time on your cellphone. I can empathize with your experience with travelling and “cleansing” yourself of social media/cell phones and diving right back into it when you’re home. The only problem I’ve found being “disconnected”, let’s say, from apps like SnapChat or Instagram is that I find myself almost excluded out of my social group because that’s how most of them communicate… which in itself is interesting. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts it also sounds like you had a really great trip to Costa Rica! I’d love to get there one day.

    • I have felt the disconnect with my friends also Gillian, I have tried to phone a friend and have the call go to voicemail and then get a text a second after asking what I wanted. When I texted that I just wanted to talk he asked why didn’t I just text him. Which led to I wanted to have a conversation. His response wasvwhat is the matter with you, texting is easier…Its tough being a talker in the world of texting

    • I completely agree Gillian. I do necessarily think it is beneficial to completely cut off from the social media world. I think social media plays an important role in staying connected. It is a valued part of our world today. I think the challenge is using social media in a productive way as opposed to a wasteful. Hence the reason I deleted facebook from my phone. I was finding that I was using it as a time filler instead of using it in a productive way. I still use facebook on my laptop, but the sessions are less frequent and more productive (e.g, talking to friends from my trip, seeing pictures of friends and family on holidays). Thank you for contributing to this conversation, I appreciate your thoughts!

  7. I really enjoyed reading this Ryan. I feel a blog post coming as it relates to my family and how we are really needing to set limits on over use of my sons phone (and his floundering ELA marks), my daughters constant pestering to watch youtube videos on the iPad and my wife and I spending more time wired in than wired out. I feel that this is normal when we talk to other families but I am not sure that it is right. Either way you got me thinking. Great post Ryan.

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  9. Thank you for sharing this video Ryan! I think that in today’s world we get sucked into the social media vortex that often involves scrolling for the sake of interacting with our phones. Technology provides amazing opportunities but sometimes we find ourselves using it mindlessly. I find that I will sometimes be ready for bed and an hour later I will be laying there still on my phone with no idea where all that time went. This blog post is a great eye opener and a reminder that our life is not in our phones, it is our surroundings that we ignore. I think it is all about balance and understanding when technology is appropriate and useful and when it is hindering our face to face relationships.

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