The Ultimate Challenge: Put Your Phone Down

The Ultimate Challenge: Put Your Phone Down

John Jeter cell phone challenge class

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Professor John Jeter gave his Jan term class the ultimate challenge: put down your phone. For three days.

Only one student was brave enough to accept the challenge: Psychology major Alexis Pitts ’20.

“Alexis accepted a challenge that for most of us in this screen-centered, hyper-connected millennial age would be daunting, if not impossible: live without your iPhone for three days,” Professor Jeter said. 

Professor Jeter was preparing the syllabus for his Jan term class, Creating Your Brand and ran across this story. He said, “It resonated because my class is a deep, intensive dive into what your story actually is — and you can’t discover your brand by Googling yourself. In fact, it’s only through mastering personal brand creation that you can Google yourself and come up with the good stuff that potential employers want to see.”

“Alexis accepted a challenge that for most of us in this screen-centered, hyper-connected millennial age would be daunting, if not impossible: live without your iPhone.”

Professor Jeter challenged his class to if anyone wanted to dig deeper into their own “content” without a device for a few days. Alexis was the only volunteer. She wrote about the experience, likening it to surgery. 

Communicating with family and friends wasn’t too challenging for Alexis during her phone-free days. “My close friends are actually my roommates, so that wasn’t an issue,” she said. 

Alexis describes the unique experience as “a cleanse of what felt like social obligations” and added that as soon as the experiment ended, she checked her notifications to catch up on anything she missed.

Read about her three, phone-free days:

Day 1: iPhone Amputation                      

I unconsciously felt for my phone during moments of silence. It is then that I remembered … I don’t fully think things through before volunteering. However, this is beside the point. In some ways, I felt as though I was missing out on something like hilarious content, trends, an important text, etc. 

There was not the fear that something could go wrong without me knowing because my family had access to my roommates’ contact information. When it came to the preparation of participating in this experiment, I made sure I covered all my bases for anyone who frequently contacted me prior. 

“While sitting at the table for lunch or dinner, it looked as though everyone was periodically hypnotized at the same time.”

I was not completely bothered by the absence of my iPhone. I realized that the people around me use their phones during the moments that they are expected to be interactive for longer periods of time. For example, while sitting at the table for lunch or dinner, it looked as though everyone was periodically hypnotized at the same time. Then, someone would begin to eat and the conversation would spark again. I actually noticed this before, but it was a bit more freaky while I was detached from my device.

I believe that I was more prepared and willing to give up my phone for the greater good because there have been times that I have forgotten my iPhone in my room and did not take the time to retrieve it. 

Alexis Pitts
Psychology major Alexis Pitts ’20

As a student-athlete (volleyball player) there were times that we were not allowed to have our phones, like on the way to an opponent’s gym. Also, during pre-season, there were times when I did not use my phone for three or more hours at a time. 

Writing this, I feel as though I am describing the day of the main event after enduring a month of training camp. 

Day 2: Post-Op

I had to listen to the actual radio today. Not being able to access my music playlist from my phone was probably the hardest part. Music is the steering wheel of my emotions because I express myself through music and it also influences my mood. 

The only major concern I had was making it to the two gyms where I hold practices for my teams during the week. I would usually type the location in my GPS, and then I did not pay much attention to the minor details enough to drive without the GPS. I made sure to practice remembering the route to these locations prior to the experiment. 

I had to be more aware of the time because I did not wear a watch or have easy access to the time at all times. There were many times that I asked people in passing for the current time. This was not a problem for me because I did not mind starting conversations with people I did not know. I remember being challenged by my club coaches to talk to someone we did not usually talk to from our high school. 

Things like this, and the volleyball environment in general, enabled me to be more vocal with my peers. 

During the late evening, I began to look forward to getting my phone back. I was missing a form of entertainment when I had moments of being alone. It was not as easy to access a hilarious video or to listen to words of wisdom. On the bright side, I felt as though I slept better because I was not woken up from the vibration of my phone. I felt a certain level of serenity during times of silence because I had to stay present more often. 

Day 3: Recovery

I am so thankful for participating in this experiment when I did. I was hyper-focused on working and adjusting my speech about my personal brand. I would not have been invested at the same caliber if I possessed my phone because I often use my phone as a procrastination tool. 

I felt as though I could access my full potential without using my phone as a distraction. I was able to get into a flow of thoughts and ideas, especially when facing an event that could be intimidating and stressful if you did not prepare. 

Overall, going through a phone detox cleared out any blockage that may have prevented the flow of creativity that I experienced. I was able to take moments to respond to God’s creation within nature and appreciate it. I also had moments of reflection when I felt emotions of gratefulness and thankfulness for where I am in my life as a (soon to be) college graduate. 

Last but not least, I was content with understanding my personal brand at this moment in my life. I have a stronger sense of self-identity, and that is more valuable than the cost of an iPhone.

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