Go Ahead, Unplug

By Maria Piperis

When my mom shipped me off to a three-week summer camp with only a journal, a camera and an MP3 player, I was nervous to say the very least. I pored over the New York Times, Twitter, Instagram, my email and Snapchat one last time before carefully placing my beloved iPhone in a plastic bag and, with misty eyes, bidding it farewell. I know, you’re shocked. You’re confused. You’re dying to know, how did I do it? How did I make it out alive?

As someone who typically takes pride in not being reliant on their phone, I can admit: being without it was strange at first. I was constantly feeling my pockets and fishing through the depths of my backpack for something that wasn’t there. Every time I got up to leave a table or a bus, I felt like I had forgotten something. I was truly disconnected from everything and everyone familiar to me. It was, as I anticipated, uncomfortable. At first.

After a few days, I adjusted to the absence of this thing that almost seems to dictate my life back home. I journaled more. I talked more. I had nothing to use as a social crutch. No means of looking people up and checking out their Instagram. I just had to be present.

Though foreign at first, it felt so much better and improved my interactions with everyone that I met. I was the least stressed I had been in months, maybe years. I was able to build relationships without preconceived notions of people from social media.

Of course, I couldn’t stay that way forever. Twenty-one days eventually came to an end, and suddenly my phone was back in my hands. It didn’t feel right. I powered it on, and it shut down with all of the notifications. What had I missed? A lot of texts and emails, a lot of politics, 183… colorful new Trump tweets, a few new memes and, oh no, a new Drake album?! Okay, that part was upsetting, but I survived the rest.

Contrary to my belief three weeks before, I still had all my friends when I returned home. Nobody had forgotten about me, and nothing had changed. As the school year approaches, I encourage you to try what I did. Maybe not 3 weeks but even a few hours every day. Put your phone away. Leave it in your backpack. Leave it at home! It’s important to be alone and comfortable with your thoughts, free from the stresses and endless notifications of your phone. I can guarantee great outcomes. If you don’t get positive results, you can seek me out in the hallways and say, “Maria Piperis, I lost all of my friends and missed every party and it’s all your fault!” I will take full responsibility.

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