Column: Breaking away


Olivia Lauter

“The technology in our hands is capable of showing us the world we live in and anything in it, yet it will make us unaware of what’s truly important.”

We’re blind to the opportunities around us.

I sat in Flower Mound High School, watching as my fellow UIL competitors spent time watching Netflix or texting, ignoring the speaker who was calling out results. I sat there for what felt like three hours, waiting for my coach to finish judging stories, tearing through countless fruit snacks, destroying a capri sun case and munched hundreds of Cheez-its. Everybody wrapped up in their digital universe, and I was left in reality with my thoughts and some snacks to keep me occupied.

The technology in our hands is capable of showing us the world we live in and anything in it, yet it will make us unaware of what’s truly important.

I threw in the towel. I left my phone locked in my closet for the entirety of January and lived my life with open eyes. In my classes I noticed students blatantly ignoring teachers and lessons, busy texting friends, browsing Instagram and Snapchat. Time occupied by pointless entertainment over studying for that big test. I felt abandoned because everybody around me was isolating themselves in a bubble of ones and zeros, and I stayed behind in the lecture.

However, I didn’t know that would be just a side effect of my journey. I noticed how little we actually do our assignments, talk to others and collaborate with others. I took more time to get my work done. Instead of watching YouTube videos, I established a schedule for myself, opened up to my parents more, I went to church and learned who God wants me to be. It’s difficult, I’ll admit. But I now understand how it feels to sit for hours, waiting for somebody to take out an earbud or look up from their phone and just ask, “How are you?”

I’m happier now. I cherish every moment I spend with my friends and family, and every time my family departs to eat in their own secluded areas, I call them back into the dining room to relish in the time we have together. Now I live in the relationships I have with my friends, and spend more time talking to them in person over the one sided text conversations and messages. We don’t need to rely on our mobile devices and screens, because throughout this journey I realized how dependent a functioning relationship is on physical connections and conversations.

It’s sad, really. We could be spending time building relationships and focusing more on what we value most, not cycling through the same three apps for hours and hours on end.

Struggling with bad grades, stress and lack of sleep we continue to overlook what needs to get done and drown it away with our screens. The problem might lie within the pile of papers on the desk, but the deeper issue is the lack of effort made to sort out and solve our inner turmoil.

Take a break for once.

Set down the phone and talk to somebody new, revel in the interactions you have with your friends. Breathe and leave the screen behind, look at the world around you. It opened my eyes, and I realized that we don’t need to be tied down to the minuscule weight in our back pockets. Leave it at home and open up.