In my life I have never really thought myself to heavily rely on technology as much as I would think others were. Looking around I see people walking and texting simultaneously and it blows my mind to think that you can't wait to get to where you are going or at least stop and shoot the text off instead as droning like a zombie to your next destination with your head to the floor.
For one full day I made sure to pay extra attention to my social interactions and document all the details so that I may find a difference between then and after I "unplug" which I feel is a very accurate way of describing the way we live our lives when not attached to our electronic means. Through out the day I made sure to keep a count of how many times I pulled out my phone or touched a keyboard. The number actually surprised me because like I said earlier, I don't think myself to be very attached to electronic means of communication. This point still reigns true because more than half of the times my phone came out of my pocket, it was not to send a text or call somebody but instead to surf the HoundNet in my downtime between classes and right before class started. I pulled my phone somewhere around 30 times throughout the day. That might not sound like much to some people but like I said, I am not the most phone attached person in the world. The number still surprised me however because I didn't think I actually used it that much. For the most part throughout the day I still interacted a lot with those around me if they weren't currently engaged with their phone of course. I like to think of myself of a social person and try to meet and talk to as many people as I can so I figured that when I unplug myself there would not be much of a difference. Now the usage of my phone, when not used for the internet, was to text. I'm going to talk about what I learned about texting through my observations. "Why do we text?" I asked myself today. It is a very impersonal way of communicating when you think about it in depth. The person you are talking to cannot see or hear you and you are only communicating by staring at each other's name tag on the top of your phone. Texting is hardly an instant message where you reply right after one another, much more of a message in a bottle style of communicating because I have noticed I am very often waiting about five minutes or more for a reply, especially from some people. You also cannot hear the tone of voice of what ever is being said so it is very easy for the other end to take what was said out of context if you try to make a joke. Just from the first half of this project I already noticed something that I want to change about the way I interact with the world. I am going to try and stop texting as much and try to use the phone for what it is meant for... Phone calls. Calling is a much more personal form of communication compared to texting because it allows you to hear the other person's voice. It gives you the warm and fuzzy that this is actually the person that I met and it allows your connection with that person to grow much stronger because of this. It is also more intimate than a text because you know where that person's attention is at that moment because they are actively talking to you opposed to texting which is a more passive way of communication.
The next day, I unplugged my self from my electronics for the whole day so that I can really see the effects. I placed them on the charger and went on with the day again as vigilant for details as I was with my phone in pocket. I noticed that I habitually checked my pocket to see if my phone was still there even though I knew I did not bring it with me. I thought that was kind of funny but I felt a little stupid whenever I did it. In my down time I did not have my phone to pass time so I just sort of walked around looking for things to pass time and I noticed I was actually trying to strike up more conversations with random people just to pass time. With out the distraction of my phone I think I must have double the amount of people that I talked to compared to the day previous. At this point I noticed something about my social skills, I actually have trouble keeping a conversation going whenever I hit a lull in speech. Kind of a problem of moving into the next topic if you will. As the day went on I started to improve upon this skill but I don't think that I would have noticed this problem if I hadn't had my phone to look at when the conversation hit this point. I normally just look down at my phone and disengage when this happens but now I wanted to stay in speech longer because I didn't have anything to distract me and I was actually genuinely interested in people. Maybe a little more than when I had my phone as a distraction because it wasn't there to take away from the interaction. This realization again made me set another goal for myself. It was to be more social with those around me and learn their stories. I have always knew that people in general are interesting and I always wanted to be that social butterfly because I was a little introverted in high school but after this project, I realized that I can still improve much more in my social skills. In my goal I want to meet new people and get to know them on a personal level because I think that is one of the most pleasurable and fun things in life; meeting new people and getting to know them. "In all my travels I have never met someone who was not important." This is a quote from the British T.V show "Doctor Who" and I think this is a very true statement which is also backed up by religion in that we were all created for a purpose.
When the day ended and I realized how much I learned about the way I interact with the people around me, it made me want to be better at it because I noticed, and I hate to say it, how shallow some of my relationships are with the people I have met with here at Loyola. I know there name and I see them every other day in class but I do not know them. I do not know who they are. Now that I noticed this, I am going to try to make a focused effort to build stronger relationships with my friends because of how little I noticed I am partaking socially here on campus. I have not made any effort to get together with friends and I feel like I expect them to reach out to me which is the wrong mindset to have. I have to make this happen or else it will never happen. I now know I need to take the first step and I will.
I took a third day to observe how I interacted after my realizations and I kind of reverted back to the way I was before. This kind of irked me because I saw how much I can improve my social interactions and it was kind of a step backwards in my opinion but I am going to make the end of this blog a reminder to myself. I am going to challenge myself to become a better conversationalist both through phone habits like calling instead of texting to talking and forming bonds in person. I saw a small glimpse of what I could be, now it is up to me to get myself there.