- Acknowledging an ‘addiction’ and the failure to overcome it for 24 hours: Almost all students wrote about their media dependency, and they often used the word ‘addiction.’ But recognizing their habitual use of their phones, the Internet or TV didn’t help most make it through their designated day.
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- Uncomfortable with silence: Students in other countries struggled with having to put away their mobile phones. So did those from Slovakia. Students elsewhere found turning off the Internet and losing their recourse to TV challenging – for both work and play. So did those from Slovakia. Students hated the isolation they felt because of going unplugged. So did those from Slovakia. But it was the students based in Slovakia who most noticed and bemoaned the silence in the room: “I was alone and sad,” moaned a student. “The silence was insufferable.“
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- ‘Life without media would be empty, sad, boring‘: Students spoke about their parents and grandparents who had grown up without digital technologies, but they couldn’t see how they could duplicate those generations’ experiences in their own lives. How can one relate to friends and family without the convenience of mobile phones and texting, emails and Skype? Without media, wrote one student bluntly, “You are simply powerless to stay in touch with those you love.”
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“I realized my addiction to media, found out I should exercise more, and work more on my abilities, and develop my talents. I should also try to not always feed my addiction, but to limit it, because every addiction leads to slavery, and I don`t want to wake up some day as a mental slave of an environment I help to build every day.” — Slovakia
‘Addicted’ but conscious of it: During their 24 hours without media, students in Slovakia reported feeling ‘nervous,’ ‘angry,’ ’empty,’ even ‘tortured.’ They couldn’t conceive of a life ‘without all the appliances,’ yet as one student who noted that “I cannot imagine my life without cell phone,” wistfully said, “Sometimes I wish I could try to live at least one day in the old times. It had to be awesome. To be not connected.”
- “Maybe it is strange and not healthy that I can’t be without knowing what people say, how they feel, where they were, what happened. I got nervous. I think I am addicted to media.”
- “When we were walking through nature I realized that I feel very strange without a cellphone in my pocket.”
- During the day I felt the need to go on the Internet, or turn on the television, even more to call family and friends, or at least write SMS [text messages].”
- “I am addicted to television and for me its the best way to relax.”
- “I quickly ran to the bathroom, took my shower and got ready to go to sleep but when I got back, there was my favorite TV show on. And to be honest I couldn’t help it, I broke the promise again.”
- “In the evening, the hardest part of that day, when I was totally desperate, I baked a cake.”
- “People have gotten used to spending every minute of the day with the switched-on TV, radio, the Internet, because they don´t want to hear their thoughts – or maybe their conscience. They need to keep quiet their minds.”
“That day I was very nervous, because I usually use my mobile as a ‘touch think’. It means I take my cell phone every minute and I look at the display but I usually don’t want to know the time or anything.”
‘Not OK’ — signs of distress: Many students reported underestimating the challenge of going without media for 24 hours, writing that it was harder than they thought. “Just after you are willing to put yourself into this position, to spend one day without media,” wrote on student, “you will realize how you miss the small things you didn’t even see, when you were living normally.” One of the hardest of those ‘small’ things? The silence. It was an almost palpable presence in students’ experiences.
- “When I decided to join into this project, 24 hours without media, I thought it should not be so hard. But it was. All day I was nervous, unquiet, not OK. As if I would miss something.”
- “On Wednesday there was absolute silence in our room – you could hear dogs and traffic outside. I and my mates who also have day without media were talking about how horrible it is.”
- “I didn’t like the silence, which was everywhere.”
- “I was always thinking about the silence that was in the room.”
- “Later when I came home it was much worse; everywhere it was very silent, without anybody.
- “Silence. That is the exact word that can describe my whole day.”
“I still felt isolated without information and limited people around me. What if something happened? Nobody would catch me.”
Alone and empty: Students described a sense of isolation, saying they felt ‘alone,’ ’empty,’ ‘sad,’ ‘depressed,’ ‘strange’ and in ‘a terrible mood.’ Without media but people around, many students nevertheless reported on loneliness because they couldn’t get in touch with friends or family or join them as they kept using cell phone, TV, and Internet.
- “I could live without a mobile phone, but in these days it is impossible to live without the Internet. I would have felt like on the edge of society.”
- “I first felt constrained and then more and more isolated”
- “It made me feel unproductive and cut out of the world.”
- “If I were alone the whole day, I wouldn’t make it.”
- “How could people communicate together before the invention of the cell phone? The letters and post cards are ancient and stylish (now) but so slow. I receive about 10 to 20 texts every day and about 20 calls.”
- “If I want to meet my girlfriend or just talk with her I need my cellphone. Writing love letters could be romantic but it is really not practical.”
- “Another thing I’ve missed, and probably the most, is to call my friends, family and even my girl friend. We’ve gotten used to a small ritual, my girl friend and I – we ring each other a few times during the day… but it can’t be done without a phone.”
- “The most difficult time was the evening, when everybody was watching TV and I respected them and their leisure time and its content. I spent my time in my room – I felt lonely.”
Nothing to do: Many students said they battled boredom; some reported sleeping more or earlier, others sought diversions such as meeting friends or going on a trip.
- “In fact, I was bored; maybe this day could be for me easier if I spent this time with my friends somewhere outside or at home in Brezno.”
- “I didn’t know what to do. I was bored.”
- “School was more boring than I could imagine… Students had their heads in their hands, trying just listen to what the teacher is talking about. I almost slept.”
- “I was very bored. I tried to sleep the longest I could.”
- “It was easy to avoid media, but harder when boredom came.”
“We are used to having information about everything on the planet and this information we have to have in an unbelievable time. Our generation doesn’t need certified and acknowledged information. More important is quantity, not quality of news.”
No contact; no information: Students reported feeling a sense of uncertainty ranging from not being able to check the time on their cell phone to not knowing what was happening with friends, as well as in the world.
- “I had no information from any media and so I was forced to communicate with people around me. That seemed to me to be a more gentle path to the information, but I did not get all the information I needed.”
- “People are more open and communicative when they are online than when they talk face to face.”
- “I realized that today’s world is too fast and it’s not possible to live one day with no contact with the world. Maybe 50 years ago it was easier, but today it’s not possible to do it. Everyone has to keep up with world.”
“After one hour I failed. I turned on my notebook and went on Facebook. It really tempted me! I was online almost all day although I did other things.”
Can’t disconnect: Many students in Slovakia reported their failure to complete the day without using cell phones, Facebook or the Internet. Some caught themselves when unconsciously falling into habits, some didn’t even notice they broke the rules, while others decided to quit the experiment because they just couldn’t resist the lure of media.
- “When I woke up I almost switched the radio on because I always do it. But I realized that I can’t do it and then I was always thinking about the silence that was in the room. So I had a breakfast and then I took my roller skates and went out.”
- “Two hours before the deadline I turned on the radio without realizing it. I reacted only two songs later.”
- “I came home at around 1pm and intuitively switched on a TV channel. After a couple of minutes I realized I was not supposed to do so.”
- “After some time I just didn’t know what to do, so two hours before the end of my unplugged day, I used the Internet… I think I have never been so happy about using a laptop for a few minutes.”
Phones, Facebook & TV: As in other countries, students in Slovakia most commented on the loss of access to their cell phones. Quite a few students also reported that they missed Facebook as a way of staying in touch with their friends, but others wrote they found it surprisingly easy to stay away from social networks. Next to the Internet and cell phones, more students reported they missed watching television – a stronger trend than that reported by students in other countries.
- “Going without media in school wasn’t easy but the hardest part was my cell phone. I have an iPhone where I am online 24/7. I usually upload new statuses during the day, I also use e-mail on my iPhone. I have had an iPhone for about a year and I can’t even imagine a world without it. I use the GPS while I am driving to places that I have never been to before. And of course I text and use it as a phone..”
- “In the end I can say it was no problem for me not to touch my laptop even though I do go to Facebook and check my e-mail every day.”
- “I think I even could go without social networks but it might be hard in consideration of keeping up with peers and I’d probably feel a bit odd.”
- “In the morning I got up, took a shower and ate breakfast which was a little bit difficult because almost every day when I have breakfast I watch TV or read newspaper. And here came the first problem. I already had a remote control in my hand but at the last minute I realized that this is not allowed.”
- But when I came home I just have found another way to spend my leisure time because I like relaxing in front of the TV and chatting on the Internet.”
“I asked my family to play with me some familiar games and they were pleased. It was a long time ago when we sat around a round table and played all together. This day unites us more. I spent more time with my family than ever.”
Benefits of unplugging: In the midst of their struggles to manage their day, some students wrote that they took more time with their family and friends, went for walks, took care of homework and consciously took in the environment around them.
- “During this period without media, I completed a lot of things I didn’t have time to finish before.”
- “I spend a lot of time with my closest people and had a lot of fun.“
- “I visited my grandparents. They were surprised but really pleased. Instead of watching TV with my boyfriend, we went for a walk and we liked it.“
- “I had a more peaceful mind because I had not to listen to world news about kidnapping and killings.”
- “Instead of all these media things I had more free time for many generous things: reading a book, jogging, just walking through a park and listening to the birds and watching what people are doing.”
- “Now I know [how to go unplugged] very well, I will suggest this test to my friends because it is very good to improve their abilities in how to organize their time.”
Quotes may have been edited to regularize spelling and grammar.