Step away from the stress of your phone


Mariel Elopre

By Ellen Barczak, Columnist

Anxiety” seems to be a bit of a buzzword lately; from the recent mass shootings to President Donald Trump’s administration to simply our daily lives, stressors abound. I seldom speak to someone who hasn’t experienced some kind of problem with anxiety at some point in his or her life, especially my peers.

Some sources of stress we cannot control. I have no power over what Trump tweets, for example, and, although I have boycotted and blocked his account, the stress associated with them creeps into my psyche whenever they are mentioned.

Other aspects of life, however, the ones that are arguably more impactful and important, are (somewhat) in your control; specifically, that smart little metal device you keep on yourself at all times. The one on which you read this column, perhaps.

Our phones are gateways to the world. They connect us, allowing us to check in on those with whom we do not share physical proximity, allowing us to know what occurs in the world. They’re miracles, really, of both communication and convenience.

As with any “miracle” invention, though, smart phones carry their own cumbersome list of cons. Sometimes these “gateways to the world” can isolate us; why meet up when you can FaceTime? Why call, even, when you can text? Why text when you can Snapchat?

We obsessively check our phones for news, messages and updates. What proportion of this is productive? How much time do you spend scrolling through nonsense until you don’t even read, eyes glazed over, doing it more out of habit than anything else?

Your phone does something worse than just draw you to check it, though; it constantly threatens you. It threatens that it may buzz or ring or light up at any given second.

Even when you aren’t using your phone, it’s probably pretty close to you. And, subconsciously, you know you might receive a text, see if someone liked your photo or be notified of any number of things at any time.

I, myself, am guilty of this phone anxiety — as I write this, my phone is right next to me. And I’ve checked it somewhere around five times. I received a Snapchat from my friend, a picture of a plastic bag with the caption “idk what im doing lol.” Important stuff.

Like it or not, we’re chained to our phones. You can turn it on “do not disturb” mode, though. Or, even better, airplane mode. Or you could lock it in your closet. Or throw it in Boneyard Creek. Actually, don’t do that.

I suppose the best thing you could do is limit the outlets you can check on your phone; do you need to check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and whatever else multiple times a day? Probably not. You probably wouldn’t miss them after a few days if you deleted the apps.

Maybe start with not using your phone when walking to classes. Look around, smile at strangers, notice the Illini service dog across the Main Quad, the birds chirping and the trees blossoming. Maybe you’ll work your way up to never having your phone on you — to being truly uninhibited.

Then throw it in Boneyard Creek.

Ellen is a freshman in LAS. 

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