Home | Video

Disconnect to reconnect

Nicolas Pokora, Grade 11
I would like to tell you about the time I had my phone taken away.

You probably all have mixed feelings about the new phone policy, right? At first, I had them too.
When we first started the new school year and we talked about this rule with our advisors, I did not think I was very dependent of my phone. Yes, I used it a lot every day, but I never thought I would be one of the students who would get caught with it during the academic day. But I was.

On the first day of school, I was sending an email as I was walking out of Bugbee, as I had done many times before. The Mrs. Carruthers, our acting head of school, happened to be walking behind me and saw what I was doing. She looked at me, then looked at my phone then looked at me again and I knew right away. And you can surely guess what happened next.

I turned off my phone and gave it to Mrs. Carruthers. I went back to my room where I had a small mental breakdown. It was my first day as a perfect and I got my phone taken away. And to make it worse, many people around me saw what happened.

I was very embarrassed at the time. It might seem a little silly now but I thought I was going to lose my perfect tie.

After panicking for 5 minutes in my room, I continued on with my day and pretended nothing had happened. But throughout the day, only one thing was coming across my mind. My phone!
Why did that worry me so much? What if I had to call someone? Sure, I could use a landline, but I had never bothered to learn anyone’s number, not even my parents!

How would I know how to manage my time without my calendars, alarms, and reminders on my phone? How would my parents reach me if there was an emergency? How would I know what my next class would be or what if I had to look up a word I did not know how to spell? But worst of all, what was I going to do before study if I could not watch any YouTube videos?

All of these questions came across my mind at the same time. It felt like I lost something as precious as an arm or a leg. Ok, maybe that is a little dramatic, but I'm sure you can all relate.
I had no choice. I had to deal with it and find other ways to get through the day. 24 long hours on my own.

Surprisingly, it was not hard at all. Yes, it was inconvenient sometimes, but everything I needed was not very hard to find.

The one thing that bothered me the most, was the fear of missing out on something important or, let’s be honest, something not important at all. Like a meme or a message from my friends.

That night, while I was on duty in Bugbee, I was the only person who did not have my phone and who was not “connected.” Before the start of study, I was walking down the halls to make sure everything was ok. And I heard something strange. Something you never think you would hear in Bugbee: silence!

Everyone was in their room, on their phone, quietly doing their own things. I was surprised. I also felt invisible. I could go in their rooms, move things around or even sit in front of them. Many never even noticed me because they were so engrossed in their phone.

That's when I started to wonder. Is this how others feel when I am staring at my phone? I'm there but not really there at the same time. I probably miss out on many things and I am most likely not even aware of it.

We have all read stories or seen pictures of families and friends sitting at the dinner table for “quality time” together. Everyone has their phone in their hand and there is barely any conversation happening. When we see these pictures, we all admit how ridiculous it looks like. Yet we keep doing it. I can tell you that when my family gets together, most of the teenagers and even my very young cousins are all playing games on their phones. I am sure it is the same with your family’s get-togethers. Honestly, I think it’s a little sad.

We are very lucky here at Stansted College. We are all part of a team and a community. We all have to do sports and clubs. We are all forced to get out of our comfort zone, to maybe try something new and most importantly, interact with each other. We have a great time when we participate in the many activities that are offered to us.

But we need help with that. We need it because I doubt many of us would engage on our own. If we are not forced to do these sports, clubs and activities, we would just naturally choose to be alone and get lost in the world of technology.

I am not saying we are wrong to do that. This is life in 2019. This is what we know. Phones are a great tool to have, but we do need a break from them every now and then to focus on the important stuff.

After a few weeks of the “no phones allowed policy” during the academic day, I can see a lot of benefits, even though not many of us are willing to admit it. I am able to better concentrate in class, now that I can’t constantly check to see if I have a new notification on my phone. I see people in the hallways actually making eye contact and saying hi to each other.

This rule forces us to focus a lot more on what is happening right in front of us, and I don't think anyone can say that this is a bad thing. We just need to get used to it. I'm sure that is not a problem for most of us.