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viewpoint

Life without a phone

| Wednesday, October 14, 2015

After a series of unfortunate events, my phone stopped working.

This meant I was “off the grid” for exactly three days.

I know people who could not survive if this happened. Really — I know people who could not function without a functioning cell phone.

I also know people who could last forever without a cell phone. You know, the hipster, non-conformist type. The type that always seems impossible to get in touch with when you really need something.

I’d put myself somewhere in between these two groups on the phone-dependence spectrum. Sometimes I like to think I’m cool by not looking at my phone for long periods of time and making myself hard to reach. But other times, my eyes are glued to the screen as I’m in constant contact with friends and family and other people who are not in the same room as me.

Losing my phone gave me the opportunity (or really forced me) to try my own social experiment, and I’d like to share my results.

Every day before lunch, I get the same exact text message. In a group message, someone will type, “Lunch?” In response to this thought-provoking question, people will answer that they are, indeed, coming to lunch in an astonishingly large number of different ways.

Without a phone, I dramatically pretended I lived in the days when you just showed up at the dining hall and ate with whomever was there.

It makes me a little nostalgic. This must have been what my mom’s dining hall experience was like.

For those three infamous days, I had to go to lunch in the dining hall without any way of contacting people beforehand. I guess I could have whipped out my laptop and emailed a friend, but that would have been weird.

Here are my thrilling accounts of what happened.

Day one: This day was kind of a cop-out. I showed up at the same time I always do for lunch. Shockingly, I ran into the same people I almost always eat lunch with on this day of the week. We then ate lunch together. It was quite a wild experience.

Day two: My second “off-the-grid” lunch was a little more interesting. Having no plans, I went to the dining hall alone. In fact, I ended up dining solo — a daunting experience. Without another human being to distract me, I ended up studying for my midterm in the dining hall of all places. If anything, this social experience made me more productive.

Day three: This day was the culmination of all my research. I again showed up to the dining hall with no plans. I saw a friend that I knew. I asked if I could join her and her friends for lunch. And then I ate with them. I met some new people. I heard some new jokes. It was an overall pleasant experience.

In conclusion, I encourage people to take a break from their phones every once in a while. As my data clearly proves, it can be beneficial to try something new. You could be more productive or meet a new friend — all without the help of your cell phone.

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, the Observer's current Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's a former Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

Contact Katie