It’s your average Thursday. As usual, I am rushing out the door with my North Face backpack and a Scouts sports bag in tow. I get to school on time, but once I get inside the commons I realize that my nightmare has come true: I forgot my phone.
I wouldn’t consider myself “addicted” to my phone. Even though phone addicts rarely admit that they are, I feel like my phone usage seems controlled. I have a few Snapchat streaks–all under thirty days, mind you–with my close friends, like my friend studying abroad in Germany. I love reading news headlines across media platforms and listening to podcasts, especially Tavi Gevinson’s newest podcast that I had especially saved for today. Not to mention, my love for Spotify and its curated playlists such as Happy Folk or Afternoon Acoustic.
By the end of my first period class, I had already missed out on showing my friends a cool picture I took last night and a game of Kahoot. Playing Kahoot on a Chromebook just doesn’t feel right. In certain situations, my phone is a resource to supplement my conversations with new articles I have read, or a funny Instagram video I had saved of a Husky puppy jumping into a pond. I look around me, and I see that all twenty students in the class are on their phones listening to music or just responding to their own text conversations. I find myself shuffling to find my own device, since I figure that no one else would want to talk to me while immersed in their own isolated worlds. Instead of using that time to watch a new tasty video as a way to let off steam, I use this time to ask myself: What exactly am I missing out on? On the contrary, what am I gaining from this time without it?
I walked through the hallway with my friend to my next class, and we argued on whether caramel is pronounced KAR-muhl or KARR-uh-mel. In my next class, I listened to a lecture on light waves, sonic booms, and constructive interference without the interference of a cell phone. The class flies by, and lunchtime hits. It was a temperate spring day in the high sixties with sunny skies. Instead of having my phone call me to stay indoors, I ate lunch outside with my friends. I encouraged them all to join me in a cell-free lunch, and we were able to enjoy our time together rather than just spend it together. I whizzed through my AP United States history class along with journalism, and hop on a bus to a soccer game. I usually listen to music on my phone to hype myself up, but instead I listened to the sounds of the highway.
By 6:30, I returned home to see my cell phone charging on my kitchen counter exactly where I had left it ten hours before. I was hesitant to even turn it on at first, especially since my day had been going so great without it. I eventually caved to see exactly what I had missed: 55 texts, 22 emails (mostly spam from unknown small colleges), six Snapchats, one like on Instagram, and a missed call. Nothing urgently needed my response. I started to wonder how my day would have been different with my phone. Similar to celebrity icon Kylie Jenner, it was definitely a day for, “like, realizing stuff”. I was more aware of what was going on around me, and had more meaningful conversations. I also felt like I was completing more of my work at a faster pace, without flaking on the quality of my work.
Besides the lack of communication when I genuinely needed it, I had “survived” a day without it. This past summer, I spent three weeks without my phone effortlessly, but it definitely is harder to leave it behind to let go during the school year. I can confidently say that the cell phone culture at Lake Forest High School interferes with our daily lives, but it doesn’t have to be a “go-to” resource for all of our needs. Today I was able to remind myself that life goes on with or without a cell phone in my back pocket, and that I should probably “forget” my phone more often.