Did you know we spend about nine hours a day consuming some type of media on our phones? That number startled me until realizing I read this statistic on one of the eight tabs open on my Macbook while snapping on one of my iPhones and scrolling through Instagram on the other.
Whether I’m texting in between (or during) class and meetings, rotating through every social media platform while standing in line to get coffee, or googling things like “how many hours a day do we spend on the phone” as I talk on the phone, it shouldn’t surprise me to learn that most of us spend more cumulative time staring at a screen than we do sleeping.
Checking Instagram or snapping with your friends seems innocent, even mindless. But social media distracts us from appreciating milestones in our lives, which impacts our ability to think independently, butchers conversations IRL, and negatively affects our self-esteem.
Going on a Rustic program is the perfect opportunity to take a temporary time out from all screens and everything about them that distracts us. Here’s why:
1. Most of the places we go don’t have a geofilter.
The Rustic Pathways Children’s Home in Thailand, Nasivikoso Village in Fiji, and the Jarabacoa region of the Dominican Republic are just a few examples of the remote places we take our students that are simply too cool to be on Snapchat’s radar. Literally.
2. Our Global Communication Coordinators have you covered.
We will let your parents know when you’ve landed and departed safely and send them updates about how much fun you’re having. You can tell your friends to follow our GCCs on Instagram and hear all about how jealous your travel experience made them when you get home.
3. No one’s telling you not to take pictures.
In fact, we want you to take pictures (and add #sorustic). Our photography programs are proof of that! Capturing your favorite moments on your program enables you to relive your summer. But by relinquishing the pressure to snap everything, you’ll immediately become more present and aware of the moments that just don’t show up in a photo.
4. It will be there when you get back home.
Let’s be real… The updates on Snapchat and Instagram are constant, but they’re not going anywhere! Even if you don’t do a live story on Insta the day you arrive in country, you’ll be able to when you get home and your content will be so much better.
5. You’ll feel a lot better.
Whenever I meet students and alumni who take our suggestion to unplug, they tell me without hesitation that they feel relieved after not being on their phones for a few weeks. Thinking about streaks, followers, and likes becomes stressful, even if we don’t want to admit it, and it’s a huge distraction from all the magic going on around us. Unplugging for just a few weeks makes a huge difference in how we interact with new friends and appreciate the communities where we’re living.
What did I miss? If you’re a seasoned Rustic traveler and you’ve noticed other benefits from unplugging, please share it in the comments below.
Want to see how amazing you’ll feel after unplugging this summer in one of the most beautiful places in the world with Rustic? For free? That’s right—we’re giving away a FREE summer program! Enter to win before the drawing on April 22.
In 2008 and 2009, Lena was a student with Rustic Pathways, which widened her understanding of the world and fueled her interest in global service and impact. This continued at Indiana University where she became active in student philanthropy and fundraising endeavors. She also studied abroad In Sevilla, Spain. Lena worked in fundraising and donor relations at Northwestern University before returning to Rustic Pathways for two years as a member of Team Fiji.