Background: I traveled back to my hometown, San Diego over the four day fall break my university gave us. This is where I completed my introduction to media studies assignment that required me to go 24 hours without any digital media.
It was a beautifully sunny day back in my hometown, it never really got colder than 70 degrees even in the winter, which is something I miss. I strolled through the neighborhood I’d grown up in for eighteen years. I had been away at school in San Francisco for nearly two months now, and this was my first return since I graduate from high school. As I looked around at everything that was familiar to me, from my right side neighbors white picket fence to the local cat that roamed around the parked cars.
But I noticed that the tire swing on the tree of the corner house that I used to spend all my time on at when I was younger, was gone. That is when I began to have a realization. I live a completely different life now, in a new place, with new people, new ideals and new beliefs. I am a different person than I was the last time that I was here. I asked myself, is this my home anymore? Or is San Francisco my home now?
I began to feel very confused, even a little saddened. But at the same time I was overcome with pride and confidence in myself for picking up and developing a whole new life for myself and being bold enough to experience new things. My realization was, that I am happy. There was no technology present to distract me from feeling and realizing that. It was purely from observation of my surroundings and being mindful that lead me to it.
Had I had my phone with me during that walk through my neighborhood, my nose would’ve been buried in one of many social media mediums that I use consistently throughout the day. Another realization that I draw from this experience was that the use of technology makes me less mindful to the environment that surrounds me. I would have never allowed my thoughts to go as deeply as they did and conclude the things that I did if technology was there to distract me.
As Sherry Turkle mentioned in her article, “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk,” people use their phones at unreasonable times, which is hindering the extent of meaning, emotion, and overall interactions. She also mentions that people are afraid to be alone, and having technology readily available is what prevents us from feeling that way. I definitely felt the connection between this and my experience on the walk. The emotions that I felt would have never revealed themselves if I had my phone to use as a buffer. I also realized that using your phone on a walk is an unreasonable time, the reason people go on walks a lot of the times is go get away for a few minutes. We should all be capable of getting out and enjoying nature and our surroundings without a technological distraction.
Credits: Photos by Mazzi Tomaiko