In my attempt to disconnect, I did not achieve the full 24 hours. I made it about 9 hours, then found myself succumbing to the comfort of wandering various social media on my phone while on break at work. I remembered my goal, looked up, and saw two of my colleagues also starting into their phones. I smiled because it is interesting how so many interactions silently occur between two people on different ends of a screen. The need to make plans in person has been replaced by the convenience of social media. Most people in America rely heavily on technology for daily tasks and interactions. Office communication occurs almost solely through e-mail, assignments are submitted electronically, and information is shared through media in countless forms.
During the time that I was disconnected, I had longer conversations than usual and smiled at more people. Conversations were longer because I was focused on the conversation and not awkwardly looking at my phone every few minutes. Looking around different locations at times it was hard to find someone without a phone or laptop in hand. If someone is alone in a shop, restaurant, the library, etc., it is socially acceptable to hide behind a phone or laptop to avoid social interaction. Most people would almost find it odd if someone he/she didn’t know tried to strike up a conversation while waiting in line.
I think that if the entirety of one’s interactions occur through e-mail, texting, or social media, it is perhaps a social issue. However, when technology is used as an adjunct to IRL communication, it enhances communication. As a side-note, being available 24/7 to everyone you know via texting or social media can be exhausting. I think it is important to have a set time everyday when communication is solely in-person, and the phone is put away for a few hours. Along with this, there should be certain places where being on a cell-phone is prohibited or at least frowned upon, including any dinner table, restaurants, social gatherings, and walking on the sidewalk (which I am guilty of). This way people would be more mentally present, because I noticed that 50-75% of people are on their phones in these places, including me. It is something that I am trying to get better at, because at the moment I’m not sure I would survive without my phone.