Dear SMU, unplug for the day

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Walking to my 8 a.m. class today I realized something horrible: I forgot my cellphone at home.

Panic struck me as I thought of how many text messages, emails, Facebook notifications, Snapchats, Tweets and Instagrams I would be missing in the next four hours while I was in class.

I always have my phone attached to my hip. Between jobs, campus organizations, friends and life as a student, I typically have quite a few emails to go through each day and a need to respond to them as quickly as possible.

People will worry about me, I thought. Colleagues will be frustrated that I’m not responding as soon as I usually do. I will miss something important happening today. These were all fears that ran through my head, and we’re only talking about emails.

We live in a world where instant gratification and rapid response time are the norm. Information floods our minds as we jump from one app to another, constantly refreshing our short-term memories with the latest update, message or Snapchat.

There is no longer a moment of silence between classes, time to decompress or a moment to breathe. Everything must happen now. But maybe about five times faster then you’re already doing it.

In my moment of panic I realized something innately wrong with the world I live in. We are so stuck to our phones, our virtual worlds, that we no longer look up.

We stay buried beneath this counterfeit life we build for ourselves online that we do not notice anything around us. We are literally always looking down.

Now communication happens in 140 characters and relationships are built through seven-second photos.

This is not reality.

Without my phone I took moments to smile at people walking to class. I was completely focused when my teachers were talking. I didn’t feel like I was missing something; I actually felt like I was experiencing something others were missing entirely.

Photo courtesy of Daniela Huebner.

So, my fellow SMU students, I encourage you to unplug for a few hours. “Accidently” leave your phone at home. Ignore Facebook for a day. Go outside.

I am probably guiltier of it than most. Yet I am thankful I forgot my phone today because it taught me that I do not need it to function. The world kept turning even though I responded to a few text messages hours later and got back to those emails in the afternoon.

Yes, my plea and realizations have been mentioned before and I’m sure our generation is tired of hearing about it.

But, until you experience it for yourself, you will never fully understand it.

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