How long can you go without sending a text message? Posting on your Facebook wall? Playing a game on your smartphone? Is it possible to take a break from your usual behavior to experience what it is like to live without technology tools?
“Chicago student takes 90-day technology break” is the headline of an article by Jonathan Bullington in the Chicago Tribune. The journalist profiles Chicago student Jake Reilly who for 90 days, “cut himself off from cellphones and social media, a major life change for a guy in his 20s.” Reilly even gave himself a title for his doing without technology: The Amish Project. His choice of a title reflects how he wanted time to lead a more traditional way of life.
Reilly realized that his use of “technology had taken over his life and the lives of his friends.” He started his project by doing without his phone then cut ties to his usual modes of using technology which caused him to become “anxiety-ridden.”
Are you able to give up what for many is an online addiction? How would you feel if you did go cold turkey for an hour, a day, a week?
Reilly was quoted as saying it was “very scary” not to reach out to his friends via websites and to instead realize that it is just you and your thoughts. He became more active and started to enjoy “face-to-face interaction more than he did posting on Facebook.”
After 90 days, Reilly resumed his use of electronic communications. His project, however, made a statement that others can heed: it is possible to cut back on texting, posting, and playing games on social media websites.
Users of the Internet have been ‘trained’ by corporations to take time to access and use social media websites so that they can be in constant contact with friends and family. My “very scary” suggestion is to take time out from looking at a screen and, instead, take a look at the people in your life. They are the ones to interact with at home, college, an event, the corner deli, etc. And, while walking down the street, instead of looking down at a tiny screen, look around you to see and respect the other people who are part of your world.