You find yourself at a party or social event and feel extremely awkward. You scan the room and fail to see anyone you recognize, so you grab your phone and begin to furiously text your friends about how uncomfortable you feel. At this moment, you aren’t interacting with any new people, but you decide if would be better to shield yourself from the unfamiliar crowd by scrolling through Instagram.
This could be considered an example of self-sabotage. You’re failing to give yourself an opportunity to network, meet potential new friends or just have a shared laugh amongst a group of strangers. Look, socializing isn’t always easy, but as students, connecting with others has great advantages. Even if it doesn't lead to a close friendship, just striking up a conversation with someone new can have a positive impact. It can still instill a sense of confidence in your communication skills.
Human beings are the most complex creatures on this planet, but instead of getting to know each other better, we are obsessed with a photo that some gorgeous girl took in Mykonos or whether someone watched our Snapchat story. We’ve developed this idea that “all people suck”. I have heard the phrase, “I hate people,” way more often compared to, “I like people”. So why not give people a chance? Why not put down the phone, stop relying on technology and make some genuine connections? We won't be on Earth for a very long time. We might as well meet some other people.
And, before you ask, no, you don’t have to like every person you meet, but you should try to get to know more people, whether you'll like them or not. Besides, by not relying on your phone in your day-to-day life, you will gain a newfound perspective. Yes, it could place you in awkward situations, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Go out without your phone glued to your hand, and be your awkward, amazing self.
If that sounds terrifying, here are five easy ways to help you stop relying on technology.
1. Start taking handwritten notes.
This is a simple and non-frightening way to stop relying on technology. Try to head to class without a laptop or tablet, and just bring a classic pen and a notebook. Instead of “note-taking” on your laptop, AKA online shopping, texting, etc, just pay attention to lecture and the people around you. By taking the classic pen-and-paper approach, you'll avoid cramming several weeks' worth of missed lectures right before exams because you had been too busy adding several items to your online shopping cart, knowing full well that you can’t afford any of it. Furthermore, writing by hand has been proven by experts to improve memory. Writing things out may take longer and be more of an inconvenience, but it will help you focus more by keeping you from being distracted during your class time.
2. Don't keep your phone by your bed.
Personally, I desperately have to work on this one. I love browsing through all of my apps before going to bed, but without fail, I'll have spent several hours browsing and ending up with only a few hours of sleep for my eight A.M. lecture. It reached the point where I almost needed my phone in order to go to bed. What did I do? I’ve been keeping my phone away at night by plugging it on the far side of my dorm. This way, I keep from falling into the tunnel of scrolling and wake up easier. Instead of easily reaching over to turn off my alarm, I have to physically get up.
3. Partake in a Barnes and Noble haul.
Have you found yourself trying to remember the last book you fully read, and then being embarrassed when you realize it was years ago? It is easy to fall off the wagon of reading when our smartphones take up most of the free time we have. When we get a moment to ourselves, the easy solution is to break out the phone and read an Instagram caption or a hundred-character tweet. To combat this trend, I encourage you all to head out to Barnes and Noble and treat yourself to all the corny, trashy young adult novels you’ve been wanting to read. Reading a proper paper novel is a much better use of time compared to staring at your screen, where you are most likely soaking in nothing of substance. This isn’t to hate on or doubt that you may actually read great, stimulating articles on your phone, but are you really?
4. Don't bring your phone to the hangout.
If you are going out with your friends to a party or event, of course, you should bring your phone. You need a way to stay in touch in case you get separated or an emergency arises. However, this tip is mainly geared towards those chill hangouts that are usually taken place in someone’s dorm or the student lounge. There is no need to bring your phone when you’re taking twenty steps away from your room! Try leaving your phone out of the hangout and really have honest conversations with your friends. Who knows? You may learn something new about them.
5. Find a hobby.
Ever wanted to take up knitting? Learn how to skateboard? Develop a new brand of hipster, vegan, artisanal food? Do it. Just make sure that this hobby isn't one that relies completely on technology. This hobby can be your go-to whenever you feel bored, but don’t want to waste your day just watching YouTube videos. An easy way to get started on a hobby is by joining a club at your school, which is also a fantastic way to meet new people and to push yourself out of your comfort zone, all the while developing a new skill.
6. Limit social media check-ins to once or twice a day.
I could genuinely check my Instagram feed up to one hundred times a day. Scrolling through images of vacations, workouts and food has become one of my accidental favorite pastimes. Whether I want to procrastinate an assignment, zone out during a lecture, or enjoy any free time - you could find me scrolling away. I found myself relying on apps like Instagram, and Twitter to provide me with an entertaining diversion from what is actually important. So, instead of enabling myself on this careless path I told myself I will only check Instagram and Twitter up to twice a day. I don't always follow my rule, but I am now conscious of how often I'm opening up my apps.
7. Turn your phone off.
One of the most simple and effective solutions - turn your phone off. If you have a lot of work to do, you're about to start a new book, or if you just want to spend some time with family and friends - ditch the phone. Most of us need our phones on us during the day, but if you find yourself too distracted to get anything done just hold down that off button. This way you won't be constantly checking to see if you have any notifications, and you'll be focused on your tasks.
I don't expect anyone to be phone-free because - let's face it - it's impossible at this point. Technology has a plethora of benefits for our daily lives, especially as students. However, it can become addicting and keep us from developing certain relationships with the people around us. So challenge yourself. Don't be afraid to leave your technology out of the picture for a few hours.
Lead Image Credit: Unsplash