We waste our lives getting so caught up in virtual lives. We sit staring at screens, communicating with people over text that are sitting in the next room over. Instead of enjoying our day, we scroll through different social media wishing we had someone else’s life, and refuse to be happy with our own. We binge-watch Netflix, eating everything in sight as though our stomachs are bottomless pits. Our generation is made of couch potatoes who wonder how all of our time has been wasted and why we don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done. And here is our answer: technology.
Take a minute to ponder the following question: How much of your life revolves around technology? Whether it be your computer, cellphone, television, or some combination of the three, how many hours throughout the day do you spend using these many screens? According to the A.C. Nielson Company, “the average American watches more than four hours of television each day” (check other statistics here). That’s an average of 28 hours a week, which is basically a part time job, and that’s just for TV! While these technologies help us in many ways, such as providing us with news or helping us to stay in contact with loved ones, they can also be extremely detrimental to our health. Ultimately, we have become so lazy and reliant on technology.
Imagine how much we could do with our lives if we actually lived in the moment and didn’t waste so much time with all these lagging screens, loading and reloading, in front of our faces. Recently, one of my professors introduced this topic to us in class and assigned for homework an experiment where we had to give up for 72 hours one of the following technologies: television, internet, cell phone, or radio. While some of my peers groaned, I truly wanted to see how television impacted my life so I decided to give that up. To structure this experiment, we recorded each day’s events in a diary and wrote about how the day went, how tempted we felt, and what we did with our newly found free time.
Day 1: The Epic Failure
I decided to start on a Sunday. I woke up around noon, ate brunch, and hung out with my friends. I started doing homework around dinner time and when I finished I sat at my desk contemplating what I was going to do with the rest of my day, since it was only 7 pm. I thought, “I should just watch Netflix” and countered immediately with “Ryanna! You are already almost through the first day! Don’t quit now!”
However, I slowly pulled up the internet as if it were a crime, my fingers slowly typing out “N-e-t-f-l-i-x”. I stared at the screen, debating on what to do and thought “Screw it. I’ll start the assignment another day.”
I then proceeded to watch 5 hours of my favorite show, Gilmore Girls.
Day 1: Let’s Try This Again
The next day I woke up disappointed in myself that I would now have to start over. I decided to write a list of things I could do if I felt bored and was aching to watch television. The list was as follows:
It was so nerve-racking, but as the day drew on I realized that this was so much easier than I initially thought it would be. On the first day I started learning how to play the ukulele and learned four chords. I practiced singing too and sent some videos to my family members of my musical progress. It was nice because I got to catch up with some of my family members, too.
Day 2: This Actually Isn’t So Bad
On the second day, I hung out with one of my guy friends. We usually watch this comedy show when we hang out, so I informed him that I was doing this experiment and that we would have to do something other then watch television. I think it took him by surprise because all of a sudden we had nothing to do and couldn’t think of anything to do together. We usually just bond over the show and now we couldn’t watch it.
We ended up listening to music, getting some food off campus, and just talking. I didn’t feel very tempted to watch television simply because the things I was doing with my newly-found free time were so much more fun than I had anticipated them to be. I spent quality time with a friend, learning more about him. Instead of just hanging out and watching television like we usually do, we actually had face to face conversation, which seems to be so rare with our generation these days.
Day 3: Overcoming the Temptation
On the third day I practiced singing with one of my best girl friends. We spent two hours singing worship songs and enjoying each others company. I really enjoyed it and felt like I was being so much more productive with my time because instead of just sitting in my room and resorting to Netflix, I was doing something that I generally wanted to be better at and work for.
Day 4: A Surprise
Instead of stopping after the initial 72-hours, I ended up going a fourth day without television, even though the assignment only required us to go three days. I spent that night catching up on a lot of homework and reading. This was so helpful because for once I completed my daily to-do list and was able to experience a stress-free night, realizing I had no responsibilities that I was neglecting because I actually took the time to thoroughly do everything that I needed to.
I believe that the absence of television was so beneficial for me that I actually want to make this a habit of giving up television for one week out of every month. What I truly learned from this experience is that when we take a step back from technology we can find things out about ourselves and our passions. I had so much fun in those four days, learning new things and spending quality time with people. When we replace technology with other things we can discover what it is that we actually like doing with our life. You only have one life to live so instead of wasting it wishing you had someone else’s or living vicariously through characters on a television screen, go out into the world, find yourself, and what you love! And, of course, I encourage all of you to try this experiment for yourself and see what you learn. But don’t stop at four days, see if you can go for a week, or a month for that matter!