PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Laptops and tablets were offline and phones and other devices were off-limits for Bradley University music students Wednesday.
Dr. Cory Boulton, director of choral activities at Bradley University, said the experiment was a last-minute idea called “Without Wednesday.”
“Every Wednesday we go without something and see how the department reacts,” Boulton said.
She said she and some music education students came up with the idea after thinking about how humans function in life.
She said eliminating technology for non-educational purposes for a day forces students to communicate, connect and practice with each other.
“When I asked the students yesterday like ‘we’re going to go without phones, what do you think?’ I thought it was going to be like ‘oh no!’ but it was like “yes, we hate our phones, this is a great idea,’ Boulton said. “It’s been a really interesting thing to watch.”
Boulton said it’s been hilarious to hear the odd conversations students have been having with each other while interacting.
Emma Hoyhtya, a senior with a business major and a music minor, said she initially thought the idea was a joke when she first heard of it, but she quickly found it freeing.
“I think we have this expectation to be in constant communication all the time and I think that’s so exhausting,” Hoyhtya said. “I just set it [her phone] off to the side, I left it in my backpack. There’s a laxed feeling, a relaxed feeling.”
She said the best part of the day was being able to fully connect with other students and have quirky conversations about not using their phones. She said it’s been a liberating experience.
“I think we kind of get up and out of our brains a little bit,” Hoyhtya said. “We think that being in constant contact is beneficial, but I’m more lonely than I ever have been, and you know we’re in such a lonely generation.”
Josiah Lohrer, a senior at Bradley, said he found having eye contact with others to be one of the best parts of the day.
“A lot of times we’re talking to each other but we’re not really listening to each other. We’re not looking at each other, we’re not creating that connection,” Lohrer said. “So, the interesting thing for me has been putting my phone in my pocket and realizing I’m actually paying attention.”
He said disconnecting allowed him to break away from the bad news flooding the internet and bond with those by his side.
“I think this kind of connection that you create disconnect from the screen and start seeing each other as actual people, that’s going to make a big difference,” Lohrer said.