The Offline blog chronicles the experiences of everyday folks who voluntarily unplug. Guest bloggers shut off their cellphone and log off the internet for 24 hours, then write a 500-word essay about the experience. Click here for guidelines or to submit your essay.
By CAYCE EARLE
Ring, ring, ring! Buzz, buzz, buzz! My phone tells me someone is trying to contact me; my phone tells me I’m not responding. My email blows up with notices of what needs to be done or what is upcoming, including sales at my favorite stores. The reason I did not respond to any of this is because I chose to be “unplugged” for 24 hours to see what my day would be like with no contact with the world. I wanted to see not only my reaction, but what the world’s reaction would be.
The good or bad day I was going to have without having my phone began with an uneasy feeling that went away with all the chores I made myself do. I soon forgot that I even had a phone because I was so busy. You know moms. Once you ask them for one thing to do, they give you a whole list of chores. It was like spring cleaning except it wasn’t spring. I never had the slightest problem being disconnected until I walked in my house and everybody was on their phones. Of course, I thought they were messing with me because they knew about my unplugged assignment. But then I realized that was not the case; it was the mere fact that, like myself, they were addicted to the monster that consumes most.
The first few hours unplugged were easy because I kept busy running, cleaning my car, and spending time with my mom. I loved the fact that I had no distractions or urges to check my phone because I was challenging myself. A sense of peace overcame me knowing I had the day to myself and the night dedicated to peaceful rest without my phone going off every five seconds with a text message. Unfortunately, when the time came to wind down, and I began to get bored, I found myself wanting to get on Amazon.com and check the latest deals, and wanting to contact my boyfriend to see if he was available to hang out. When I remembered I couldn’t do either, I grew anxious. I went from feeling peaceful and confident that I could do this to feeling anxious. The thought of not being aware of what the world was up to freaked me out. At that point, my mind was useless because I could not think of anything else to do but text and search the web for useless information.
The disconnection from my friends and boyfriend made my mind race. What if they think something bad happened to me? What if they think I am ignoring them for good and do not want to be friends? These questions blocked me from seeing all of the positivity that being disconnected brought to my life. I was so addicted to texting that I began to worry what my friends thought when I was not texting them back. I wanted to look at my phone just to see if anybody had noticed I was not texting them back. The urge was intense and grew in intensity. Then I realized I could not look at my phone because, being the smart cookie that I am, I had given it to my mom. Thank goodness I knew myself enough to realize beforehand that I was addicted to my iPhone.
Having this unwanted feeling made me think of what I could do to fix this addiction. So I made a promise to myself that once or twice a month I would go through this 24 hour period of being unplugged—to get my imagination back, to get rid of that anxious feeling, and also to have time to focus on myself. This promise will be kept because I do not want to be one of those people who are addicted to their phone and computer instead of being addicted to their life and what’s going on in the world around them. There is always room for improving yourself, and I am taking this step once a month to be disconnected and free.
Cayce Earle attends Jefferson Community and Technical College and plans to become a social service worker. She expects to pursue her career dreams after graduating in 2015.