“I spent so much time posting pictures of my life on Instagram, so caught up in what people would say… I realized, why am I so obsessed with what strangers think about me, when there are only a handful of people in my life I really care about? and who I know care about me?”
What if we used our human apps?
You know, the ones we were born with. It’s the ability to share our emotions with another person that actually gives us the feeling we desire. Teens and young adults now have an opportunity to discover how authentically connecting, using only their human apps, not just for a few minutes in between texts – but for an entire week - compares to the digital method.
The No App For Life challenge shifts the conversation from a negative to a positive. This is not about going without, but going within. The compare and contrast exercise being used in high schools and colleges reeducates and empowers this population with the tools and skills that were not prioritized during their developmental years. Remember – this is the generation growing up with the “logic” that they don’t need to learn cursive because “everything’s on a keyboard these days.” Traditional communication skills were tossed aside without any foresight.
The intense ‘mindful communication’ assignment includes prompting questions on anxiety, reactions of others, level of patience, physical health, daily human interactions and more.
One of the reasons some people are reluctant to the idea of even slightly limiting the use of their devices is that they feel threatened. Two generations have become so used to some sort of filter between themselves and another human being that thinking about face-to-face communication produces anxiety.
"When you don’t feel like you’re good at something, you don’t want to do it." Joni Siani - Celling Your Soul: No App For Life
What we know now – technology changed, people didn’t. We have the same needs and are still hardwired to bond, to be understood, to cultivate deep intimate relationships, and to feel emotionally connected more than superficially “liked” or acknowledged through a digital realm.
Learn more about the first digitally socialized generation.
What Others Are Saying About the Challenge
After screening Celling Your Soul at Franklin Pierce University and talking to students and faculty there, Dr. Laura Christoph, who brought her entire health class to the screening and participated in the discussion, decided to include the No App For Life challenge in one of her classes.
Interested to learn, Dr. Christoph and I followed up putting together a live webinar conversation where Franklin Pierce students joined my Manhattanville College students to compare notes and experiences. The outcome has been quite consistent with the pattern I’ve been seeing every year while working on solutions.
Students are reluctant at first; some plan to cheat through the assignment, but then become curious about themselves and give it a shot. Some come to terms with their “addiction,” some actually making appointments with a school counselor to work on their anxiety and others accepting that they’re not ready to change. Most importantly, however, is that they become “mindful” and learn more about themselves.
“I know “lighter” is kinda a cliché thing to say, but I really did feel lighter.”
“My connections with my friends and family are now much stronger.”
What I have learned is, when we are empowered with the authentic communication skills in order to have our needs met, have an excuse to “opt out,” have an opportunity to step back and analyze our personal behavior and feelings, we learn about ourselves, which can lead to behavior changes getting our needs met, resulting in a happier and healthier human experience.
This simple process allows students to step back, reprioritize and discover, that when it comes to the most fulfilling connections, we are human, we have all the apps we need.
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