Unplugged: Spent 24 Hours Without Technology and Survived, Barely

I have a confession that might blow your mind — I don’t go anywhere without my cell phone. Literally, I use it for every task in every part of my day. I’m hooked on technology and social media and use it for way more than I need. So I had to prep myself mentally for this. I challenged myself to go a whole 24 hours unplugged from technology.

Is it even possible? Go figure. We live in Los Angeles where our phone screen is our electronic right arm.

Spoiler: I made it. A day without technology was a 24-hour detox from my phone, the Internet, social media and television. Here’s how it went down.

On Tuesday night, I decide to shut off and stop all charging of my laptop and cell phone. (I don’t have cable so TV isn’t a big deal.) I decide to bring out the trusty, yet bulky, black alarm clock that’s hidden in my closet. This is the only way I can wake up tomorrowmorning. I think to myself, “I haven’t used one of these since middle school. What if it doesn’t work anymore?”

8 a.m. — My alarm clock buzzes and I feel relieved that it works. I instinctively push the snooze button – ten more minutes and I’ll get up. After rolling out of bed, it feels weird not checking my Snapchat. Plus, I usually wake up and turn on music to get my day started. Thankfully I have a vinyl record player. I feel the desire to check my phone, but I’m not yearning this early in the morning.

10 a.m. — I begin to panic at this time. Like, hard. When I get in my car, I won’t have an iTunes playlist to put on…how will I make it through L.A. traffic? Plus, I have rational fears that no one will be able to help me if I get stuck somewhere, or if my car happens to break down. Then, the irrational: what will happen if I don’t respond to an important text message? I’ve been glued to my phone for more than half my life… 

Noon — I don’t have the urge to check my social media, surprisingly. I take the time to engage – also known as talking, with words – during lunch with a few friends. Sitting at the table, I count how many times my friend checks her phone. Within one hour, she’s checked it more than 15 times. Too often we lose sight of how to balance our lives, and my friend incessantly checking her phone is a distraction to the face-to-face interaction I signed up for.

2 p.m. — By this time I realize people don’t talk anymore. We spend literally all our time glued to our phones. We millennials don’t make eye contact and probably don’t know how to because we stare into the screen of our phones day in and day out.

4 p.m. —  I’m realizing the magnitude of social media in my daily routine. Let me check Instagram really quick. Nope. Oh, let me check my work email or read up on the daily news. Nope. I rely on my phone calendar and apps for e v e r y t h i n g. I begin to feel bored at this time and curious as to what my friend was up to on her phone earlier.

6 p.m. — I decide to go to Malibu and watch the sunset. This is the first time in months I didn’t take an Instagram picture or Snapchat the beach scenery. Not having my phone and actually watching the sunset makes me appreciate the day. Being phoneless during this moment is a highlight of adventure.

8 p.m. — The urge to check Facebook and Twitter is yet again pronounced, but I keep myself distracted by making dinner and prepping my lunch for the next day. I feel like I’ve had more time in my day because I haven’t spent hours in the matrix.

10 p.m. — When I sit down to begin my homework, I’m not distracted. Typically I get caught up in web searching or online shopping at the start of this laborious process. But this time, I get it finished…and finished fast.

Midnight — I wake up suddenly in the middle of the night. “Damn,” I think to myself. “I can’t grab my phone to check Instagram.” Usually when I wake up, I check my social media and stay up for at least an hour going through each app. I don’t reach for my cell. My mind begins to race, but eventually, I dose off.

8 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm clock and feel refreshed. Even though I completed the goal and went an entire 24 hours without my technology, I decide to hold off for a bit longer because I enjoy the silence.

When’s the last time you shut off your cell phone or computer for at least a few hours? This question is difficult to answer. But it’s rewarding to try — I promise you will learn a lot about yourself.