• Nicole Gresen

Offline: My Unintentional Digital Detox

The sun used to be the center of our universe...but now it’s our screens.

While studying abroad in Tel Aviv this past spring I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Europe. A weekend spent visiting my friends in Barcelona quickly turned into two full weeks living overseas without a cell phone. I was warned about the so-called “pick-pocketers” roaming the streets of Spain. However, along with every other American, I never thought I’d be affected by this transgression. Let me just say that two full weeks without a phone, as a Gen Z constantly glued to their screen, was an eye-opening experience (literally…).

Growing up a Gen Z, on the cusp of being considered a Millennial, comes with many stereotypes. Our generation watched technology evolve in front of our young and curious eyes. This resulted in a heavy reliance on our screens and an addiction to the infatuating digital media sphere that surrounds us. We tend to take the simple moments in life for granted. Losing my phone allowed me to see how much this 6 inch device takes away from our everyday lives.

Think about how often you open and close social media platforms on your phone each day. Not having the ability to do this was a somewhat “freeing” feeling. I wasn’t enticed to refresh my instagram feed for the eighth time within the past five minutes. Instead I paid more attention to my surroundings and my friends. I was happier, less anxious, and eager to explore. The abundance of art lining the streets of Tel Aviv began to captivate me. I had no choice but to stare out the window while riding the bus to class and actually observe what was my everyday route.

For two full weeks, I couldn’t pick up my phone to answer a Snapchat or reply to my friend when they sent me a funny meme. For two full weeks, I wasn’t worried about how many likes and comments my recent Instagram post received. For two full weeks, I couldn’t use my phone’s GPS or text my friend “Where are you?” at the bar. Instead of feeling unsafe and as if a part of me was missing, I felt present.

As eye-opening as this experience was, I still have my own love for the social media world. In fact, I’m studying to work in the industry. I do, however, truly believe everyone needs to take a step back once in a while. I don’t recommend taking a full two weeks (especially when you’re living in a foreign country); but a detox here and there to clear your head of the social media stigma’s will only benefit you.

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