A Story Of A 17-Year Old And Her Peers Rediscovering Their Authentic Self By Being Offline
A Good News Story About The Benefits Of Stressing Less
Younger users of smartphones and social media are pushing back against the harm platforms cause. They might be at the forefront of a growing movement reimagining the future.
There is a group of young people, teenagers, who decided to live without the constant influence of their smartphones and social media.
One girl getting fed up with herself and her addictive relationship with her phone and social media started to ditch her phone. She wanted to see and test what happens. She told others and found like-minded souls.
What this 17-year-old teenager discovered is that she feels smarter in the sense that she is more intentional about what she chooses to include in her life and she feels more confident and her social anxiety has gone down. She feels less stressed.
She and her like-minded friends also expressed that they have more of a grasp on reality, whereas before it felt like more living in a sort of fantasy world. This is what they explained in a New York Times interview published on February 2nd, 2023.
What is happening?
„Many of the platforms are struggling to remain relevant. Users — especially in younger age brackets — are pushing back against the harm platforms cause, recognizing that spending too much time on them has serious downsides“, writes Stephen Moore about this topic on Medium.
Our Mind And Body Are In Hyper-Alert State
We developed a culture that accepts an always-on, anywhere, anytime, anyplace behavior. This puts us in a constant state of stress-inducing alertness having to scan the world but never really giving our full attention to anything. We tend to adapt well to this behavior in the short term, being excited about this new way of living. Just surfing on the waves and hanging on to a thin board.
But in the long term, our stress hormones create a physiological hyper-alert state in our mind and body that is always scanning for new impulses and stimulation. We get addicted. We want to check in, and are forced to respond and react.
We give our attention away to something that is neither nourishing nor helping us.
Who Am I?
The teenagers reporting on their experience with less phone and platform use noticed being more emotionally well because they were not constantly pulled into what is going on in the world and what events, politics and disasters are happening which brought them into an emotional crisis and being stressed out every time something happens.
That is not only how young people felt when trying to reduce their use of smartphones.
Rolf Dobelli, journalist, entrepreneur, and author of the book The Art of Thinking Clearly and many more books, has been living without news for several years. He sees, feels, and describes first-hand the effects of this freedom: higher quality of life, clearer thinking, more valuable insights, less nervousness, better decisions, and much more time.
How do you feel about your authentic you when you are online or offline?
The teenager told the journalist in the interview that after turning her back on her smartphone and social and getting a better grip and sense of who she is she fears what will become of the authentic her if she gets back online.
“I fear that I’ll lose a part of myself. Maybe I’ll lose a part of my youth, which maybe that’s just growing up. But I fear losing that self in a way that I felt I lost it when I was online years ago.”
“Whatever happened to the cultivation of the inner self? It's painful and it's work, but it always pays off.” – Iris Apfel
Experiences Face To Face
It is great to be in contact with friends all over the globe since you can’t just meet for a quick coffee with your friend living in a different country or continent. This is where the smartphone, online platforms, and cyberspace-connects-us-Apps are a wonderful new tech addition to our lives.
But meeting friends in real, face to face, is unbeatable. There is nothing compared to being together with friends, and acquaintances, meeting new people, or bringing people together in real life. The interactions, emotions, conversations, thought exchanges, and ideas shared with people sitting next to you are the best.
The teenagers without smart and social devices meet regularly and hang out and talk or do stuff together. What they appreciate is people showing up and keep coming and attend. “It made me more appreciative of the physical act of showing up somewhere for someone”, explains the 17-year-old in the NYT Interview.
Shift Technology Towards A More Humane Future
There is a lot of stories representative of the biggest challenges young people are facing on social media platforms that profit from our outrage, confusion, addiction, and depression.
„I started to back away from social media and just live my life and I feel free. I don’t have to worry about other people’s validation in my life and I can just be who I want to be and live my life the way I want to live my life“, shares Daniel, 18, from Englewood in the US, on the website of the initiative Center for Humane Technology, whose mission it is to shift technology towards a more humane future that supports our well-being.
The group of like-minded teenagers getting regularly together concluded: “I’ve been really thinking about what we talked about last week, and I really want to make this big change in my life.” Others say they’ve decided to get off social media. And some shared that they are trying to convince their parents to let them get a flip phone.
"You have to be true to yourself, you have to know yourself. Not be a trend follower. You've got to learn to take a few risks." – Iris Apfel
There is no need to reimagine a future without technology. But we have to reimagine how we live with the use of tech and online platforms in a way that improves our productivity and enhances our life.
Get connected with yourself. Be mindful of what’s going on with the people and the world around you. Engage all your senses and instead of being trapped in the digital world, find meaning in the things that you do every day.