From 7 pm Tuesday, October 5 until 2 am Thursday, October 7, Lauren, Katrina, and I turned off our cell phones. Here is my experience during this time:
At first, it was a shock to have my phone off and tucked away in my desk drawer. Even though I had let my parents know and felt prepared, I really wasn't. Every few minutes, I would unconsciously reach for my phone and have to remind myself I couldn't have it. "Oh great," I thought, "This is only Tuesday night and I have to get through the whole Wednesday!"
Wednesday morning started off with an empty pocket in my bag. Again, I reached for my phone many times thr
oughout the morning before I started remembering not to. As I walked across campus, I found myself disappointed each time I thought of calling my mom or texting a friend. I
felt disconnected, like I had no social capital.
However, when I headed back to my room at lunch that
all changed. I sat down to check my email and Facebook as usual, and I suddenly realized that, even phone-less, I was completely connected. Not having a cellphone didn't stop me from chatting on Facebook or scrolling down my feed to see what other people were up to. I could still message someone in an instant or post on their wall. Email, while not quite as fast, connected me even further with those who don't have a Facebook. With all of those instant connections, I definitely felt like I had social capital. I still had the power to check my email and Facebook as many times a day as I wanted, and talk to whomever I choose. Not to mention all the face-to-face interactions I had around campus.
In the end, my conclusion was that taking away cellphones does not make us totally disconnected. Although it may take a bit more effort to turn on the computer and navigate to a website rather than picking up my phone and hitting speed dial, I still felt in touch with people across the country. Cellphones increase our social capital, but are not responsible for all of it.