Column: A change in the game

Lily Hager takes control of her time after an eye-opening experience


Parker Nolan

By limiting the time on her phone, sophomore Lily Hager changed her outlook on social media. She uses the time she used to spend on her phone to do things she always wanted to.

I used to think I didn’t have enough time. For sleep. For studying. For reading. Until I discovered how much time I threw away.

I discovered how much time I gave to a world that takes and takes every day but never returns. This is the world of social media. No other generation had to face this challenge as we do.

We are growing up in a changing world.

Texting wasn’t widely used until 1999. Snapchat didn’t exist until 2011. In 2013, 37 percent of teens had access to a smartphone. Now, 91 percent of teens have access to internet on a smartphone or tablet. Now, we feel naked without technology.

This unlimited connection by media ultimately disconnects us. Immediately when we are surrounded by people we don’t know, we intentionally look busy to shield ourselves from the potentially awkward situation. We reach for our phones and scroll through celebrity statuses. When we run out, we scroll across the home screen absentmindedly, searching for something new to click on.

Even with all of human knowledge to our disposal, we still aren’t getting smarter. A study in Europe showed the average IQ in western nations dropped 14 points since the Victorian era. So what do we do with this life changing technology?

To answer this question and better understand its role in my life, I left my phone at home for one full day.

I endured some awkward conversations since I lacked an escape, but I talked to some people I never met. I left Google at home, and I asked a teacher for help instead. I panicked when I reached for empty pockets in my classes, but then I lowered my hand and looked around me. Then I found something.

Time to breathe.

I felt like I separated myself from the new world that day and watched others live it from an outsider’s point of view. What I saw in my classmates were people disconnected from the personal relationships I valued in them, as if they would rather stare at their screen than endure a “how are you?”. I longed for everyone else to live the day with me.

I craved something genuine.

Returning to school with my phone the next day made me realize I needed to make changes in my life.

Every time my hand subconsciously pulls out my phone even though it didn’t buzz, I ask myself, “Why did I do that?” After living a day without it, I know I don’t need anything from it. In fact, what I need from my phone is space.

If I don’t purposefully create distance from my phone every day, my life revolves around it. As I continue to rearrange my priorities, my phone becomes more of an asset than an anchor.

When I look back at the time I have spent on social media, I try to identify a product of my toil– something that makes it all worth it. I cannot. Three hundred followers on Twitter, countless seasons of Netflix shows, and BuzzFeed quizzes on what fast food best represents me was not worth losing my precious time over.

I encourage you to schedule routine no-phone moments in your day. Even if it’s just five minute increments of time when you force yourself to live in a world of eye contact, you may realize how much time you really have.

I found it comforting to live a life free from comparison on social media, even though I didn’t have to give it up. To get to know my friends more at lunch. To finally tackle the challenge of reading the whole Bible this year and experiencing how it changes my life already.

It’s easy to fall into the endless world of the internet, but we must be aware of how deep we fall. The world is like a game–subtle changes in the game affect how it’s played. We have to adapt to succeed. So adapt to win your time back.