24 hours without a phone


Olivia Hannigan

Are we addicted to our screens? Writer Olivia Hannigan is on the case.

Every morning, people wake up to the sound of their alarm blaring on their phone. Groggily, everyone probably rolls over and smacks the screen trying to turn it off. This past Wednesday, I was unable to do so because of a challenge. 

24 hour challenges have been popular all over the internet, so hopping on the bandwagon was fun and got my competitive streak going. While it may not have been as extreme, it served as a wake up call for how ingrained cell phones are in our society. 

Going to bed Tuesday night, I found that I had no way of knowing how to wake up since I didn’t have a clock with an alarm in my room. I went to ask my parents if I could borrow theirs, but they hadn’t used it in so long that the batteries were so far gone that battery acid was coating the inside. They had been using their phones as alarm clocks since they had learned how to set an alarm on their phones.

That gave me the option that had been banished from my mind since the sixth grade – getting woken up by my mom. 

Now, that wasn’t too bad, a little diminishing and embarrassing but nothing much. I went about the beginnings of my morning routine, not thinking too much about how much of an impact this challenge is going to have on my day.

Normally I’d watch Youtube while eating breakfast, but my phone was sitting on my bookshelf, not going to be used until the next day. My phone was only plan B for when my computer was charging but I decided that it was still unfair. I wasn’t changing my routine much then, was I? I spent hours on Youtube without touching my phone normally, so where’s the fun in that? So I cast my computer aside and decided to eat as quickly as possible so boredom didn’t take over. I took my phone with me that day in case there was an emergency, but I made sure that it was off and at the bottom of my bag.

I live close to the school so my mom normally drives me, drops me off and picks me up at the end of the day when it’s cold out, like it has been for the past few weeks. And the sentence that made this challenge a reality? “Just text me when you want to be picked up.”

As she drove off I realized that this was probably a mistake. What would the point of doing this challenge be? To try to set myself apart from my peers by thinking that I could go a whole day without my phone? It hadn’t even been ten minutes and I was tempted to check my phone, to log on to Discord and see what was happening in the group chat. 

The beginning of the day wasn’t much, I just exchanged playing around on my phone with doing homework or studying or writing that essay I had been pushing off. Whatever, right?

On my way to lunch I realized just how loud the hallways are, and just how much can be happening at once. The people in front of me were talking about something that sounded very personal and deep while the girls behind me were laughing about something stupid they’d heard in class. So much was happening at once that I realized that 

Lunch was nice! Normally I’d sit at an empty and listen to music while doing my homework, but all the usually empty tables were full. I decided to actually have a conversation with someone in one of my classes and it ended up being a lot of fun! I still worked on that essay and organized notes, but I had someone to talk to about school and what we were going to be doing next class. 

8B finally rolled around and everyone pushed in their earbuds and airpods to listen to music while doing their homework. Normally I’d do the same, but I couldn’t. So I worked on homework and such, finished it by the time the bell rang. I took the extra time I had to wander around the school. I walked through the hallways for fifteen minutes, then decided to walk around the building. It was nice to be able to hear the other people walking around and the wind, but I still wanted to listen to my music or take a nice picture of the empty fields. 

By the time my mom had picked me up, I realized that the hardest part was just beginning. Sure, going through the entire school day without a phone was rough, but I still had distractions and a workload to get me through the day. At home, having finished my homework and studied until I felt like my brain was going to melt, I was left to sit and stare at my dog, who dutifully stared back. 

Normally unwinding from the stress of the day would be easy. Take a shower, get into pajamas even though it’s only four in the afternoon, and listen to Cavetown while scrolling through Instagram or reading short scary stories people post on Reddit. Without that, I was left to listen to my own thoughts. I drew for about five minutes, gave up on drawing, then decided to try to read a book I’d bought a month ago. 

That made it even worse. Without my music, I couldn’t focus on what the words were saying. They all just blended into blobs of letters. Not only that, but I was dragging my feet, almost sleepwalking without upbeat music to keep me going. I actually waited until my younger brother came home and practically dragged him so he could play any game with me- I didn’t care which. 

Another thing without music or Instagram helping me- I can’t concentrate or figure out puzzles in the games on my own without googling a walkthrough when I give up. Without him there, I would get frustrated and probably turn the console off. My little brother was able to distract me until dinner, and then we played until we had to go to bed.  

When nine o’clock rolled around, I hopped on my phone. Eager to check my messages, I pressed on the power button and waited patiently while the T-Mobile logo flashed across the screen. I waited and waited, actually kind of excited to have it back, to be able to listen to music again so I can actually sleep. 

And then my screen flashed that it had low battery, and shut down. 

So minus the tragic ending, I encourage you to try this challenge out for yourself. See just how much you rely on your phone and how different your life would be without it.