Off the grid
January 21, 2018
People say one recognizes the value of something after losing it. I found that technology I used almost hourly is regulating my life, but, at the same time, is inseparable part for me to connect the outside world.
This Saturday, I shut down all my electronic devices, my iPhone, iPad, PC, and Apple Watch, to experience a 24-hour Media Blackout.
I expected myself to experience some dramatic event, emotion change, or discovery. As it turned out, it did not. This may attribute to affect heuristics (“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it,” said Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow). I did not become lunatic because of my deprived right of cellphone usage; instead, I was functioning normally.
As a matter of fact, it becomes arduous to meet with friends if we don’t use mediated communication. My friends take classes and live across the campus; a cellphone breaks all the limitation to communicate. To prepare for the pending communication incapacity, my friend and I set a specific time and meeting location to drive around the city before the day. (She had no choice but to look at Maps and drive at the same time after we questioned ourselves where are we.)
Moreover, I cannot even make progress on my college assignment without a screen. This makes me remind of life in primary school and middle school when we technically used pens and pencils to finish all homework; computers were used occasionally for information purposes when my parents were around or not able to answer my questions.
At night, I stayed in my room and did not have plans with others. I gave up to walk downstairs and run into a friend. Another learned helplessness! I wandered around my room. Instead of reading meme page on Instagram, watching The Big Bang Theory, or chatting with anyone, I discovered awesome features of my digital piano, picked up my books that were planned be finished months ago, and organized my chaotic workspace.
I had a wonderful sleep that night without the exposure to stimulus and arousal of excitement brought by the cellphone. “Teens who read books and magazines more often than the average are actually slightly less likely to be sleep deprived” (Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?). I do embrace the fact regularly before sleep and enforce myself not to face a screen and dim the lights 15 minutes before sleep. This works quite well for me.
Statistics have found the correlation that “the more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression” (Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?). This does not hold true for me. I did not feel more happy or depressed with a day off the gird. However, I believe there is a curvilinear relationship between screen time and happiness.
The first and imperative thing I did next morning is launching all my devices. I missed them. Now, I have spam emails to delete, YouTube feeds to watch, and messages to reply. I am glad I am on the grid again.