The underappreciated art of evading social media

Study hack: use ‘Do Not Disturb’


As a young person in the year 2017, this confession may sound bizarre — but I have never been good with technology. I still have yet to learn how to connect my phone to Cavalier wifi, downloading any form of software or computer program is a constant struggle, and — in all seriousness — I once saved a Word document to an unrecoverable, non-existent corner of my crowded desktop, never to be seen again. I have never understood the deep and confounding intricacies of technology, but it is certainly an untapped resource for students.

I say this mostly as a general disclaimer. So hopefully there will be little judgement when I soon admit, I just learned the purpose of that little crescent moon icon on all iPhones. For those of you like me — surviving, not thriving — that button essentially silences your device, functionally meaning “no more distractions.” This function prevents notifications from pinging and popping onto your screen, which admittedly is intuitive when coupled with the function’s name of “Do Not Disturb.” 

In general, I would in no way consider myself to be a social media aficionado. I do have my days when Instagram and Snapchat consume what little free-time I have, but I try to hold onto some residual self-control throughout the week. What tends to nab me — quietly, furtively — is the automatic response my body has chosen for when my phone screen lights up or pings. As if Pavlov himself conditioned me for this, my hand unconsciously stretches towards the device. I pick it up, unlock it and proceed to play “Domino Drop” or scroll through my feed on Instagram — sometimes, without even checking the notification that originally caught my attention.

While I am not narcissistic enough to assume that I am the only person that experiences this kind of ghostly compulsion, I certainly feel as if I have discovered a new, efficient method of studying — something that has been hidden under our noses the whole time.

For the weeks that followed my discovery, I found myself forgetting about the very existence of my phone. While it was usually by my side — as another guilty pleasure of mine is listening to wordless, classical music when studying — it remained faraway, well-removed, distant from my mind. Nothing buzzed. Nothing beeped. Nothing lit up. I was left to quiet, and it was the most productive study environment I had ever been in — at least, during the duration of my college career.

Even outside of the confines of academia, I kept the function turned on. Instead of messaging friends via text and in a hyper-focused impulse, I offered my full attention to the friends I had around at the moment. I found that this made our time together more valuable.

As students during finals week, we have a great amount pushing against our success — crowded libraries, random wifi outages, peers that refuse to acknowledge the simple beauty of quiet hours — but we also have a great amount on our side. We have faculty that will fight, tooth and nail, to see us thrive. We have countless resources — such as “Do Not Disturb” — supplied to us from our university and from our enigmatic technology. Most of all, we have one another to offer support and affirmation. With all of these services at our fingertips, our achievement becomes an almost real, tangible thing. It becomes inevitable.  

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