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No Phone for 12 Hours

Challenger

No Phone for 12 Hours

Illustration by Preston Randall

Like most people, I spend a little too much time on my phone. I don’t know why I do it. I pick it up as a habit, distracting myself from the task at hand with Instagram, my messages or whatever I happen to scroll through.

I needed a break, so I spent a Saturday — a full 12 hours — with no phone. 

Earlier that week, a leader from the campus ministry I take part in, Navigators, challenged us to turn off our phones for a day. The point was solitude: spend time without scrolling, without screen time, without distractions.

I rolled out of bed on Saturday just before 9 a.m., late for my roommate and I’s morning-person norm. The night before I’d forwarded my roommate Meghan’s contact to my mom as a safety net in case anything went wrong.

I made a mental note of the time and powered my phone down before I tossed it in my desk drawer. I needed to make it until 9:30 p.m. Meghan and I layered up and set out for Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park, ready for an adventure. 

The first adventure was Meghan on aux. I’m a full-on out-of-tune-car-karaoke girl, so I love my own playlists. As compatible as we are as roommates and friends, she and I don’t share a music taste, but you know what, we can’t always listen to the same music. And let’s be honest, it’s fun to jam out to the “Lemonade Mouth” soundtrack and 2010s pop.

We wound through roads lined with fall foliage and pulled into the park, ready to explore new trails. Meghan and I stood before three paths: red, yellow and white. The red trail wound through the park’s namesake ledges of huge, mossy stone. We turned sideways through narrowing rock canyons and crunched on hundreds of red leaves.

I looked back at her a few times asking, “Can we fit through here?”

Meghan got a boot to head, but we arrived breathless at the top after climbing out of a tight passage. We wandered through sections of blue and white trails, finding a waterfall, petting a dog and taking pictures. I was equipped with my grandpa’s 70s film camera, filling the last of the roll with everything that caught my eye. 

We got hungry and headed back to the car to munch on the snacks we’d brought. I picked all the M&M’s out of the trail mix as Meghan showed me the route her watch tracked. It looked like a strand of spaghetti, looping around on itself. For once, it felt good to be distracted by something other than a to-do list, emails, texts and social media. 

Back on campus, I began to miss my phone. It was easy to ignore while outside exploring, but with nothing pressing to do, I wanted to check it. I tried to relax until it was time to leave again.

The sun went down and I piled a few too many people into my car to go watch “Dune.” My phone stayed behind in my desk drawer, and I was confident I knew how to get to the Kent Plaza without it. I shouldn’t have been. 

I’m terrible with directions, but that’s what the six other people in the car are for. 

As a fan of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” book, I was thrilled that premiere day finally arrived. My friends and I passed snacks back and forth, enjoying the show. We poured out of the movie theater into the night, each giving our review on the return ride.

I was thinking about my phone. I turned it back on after 13 hours, watching the Apple symbol flash on a white background. It slowly came back to life, blowing up with group chat notifications.

I did it. I was proud to make it a whole day without screen time. I’d love to say it was freeing, that I didn’t miss my phone at all, but it isn’t true. I felt behind, like I’d missed out. 

The silence was nice for a day. It gave me space to focus, to wander, to notice, to engage. 

The 13 hours gave me a chance to examine my relationship with my phone. I realized how often I use it as an unconscious distraction. I also realized how useful it is for connecting me with loved ones, listening to my favorite playlists and even for easy directions.

SUPPORT STUDENT MEDIA

Hi, I’m Holly Liptak, a senior journalism student from Akron and the editor-in-chief of The Burr this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

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