The Thought Process

I never thought I would be addicted to anything – alcohol, drugs, or any of the stuff my parents told me to stay away from. Little did I realize that I was carrying my addiction with me everywhere I went. It was always in my pocket or my hand, next to me when I slept, in my backpack during class, on the beach with me during the summer, in my car while I was driving, in the bathroom while I showered. You name it, and my addiction was always there, just waiting for my attention.

I realized that my addiction was my phone. More specifically, Instagram. This one little gadget designed to share photographs with friends has completely revolutionized the way that I, and much of my generation, define socializing. At one point in time, you could only talk to someone in person or on the telephone. A good old fashioned land-line telephone. With a chord. (Does the youngest generation even know what those look like??) Nowadays, we can not only talk to someone at any time, at any moment, at any place in the world, but we can also see what they are doing through pictures and videos. Is it me, or is that slightly creepy when you actually say it out loud?

We have learned to “post” about our lives so that the world can see what we are doing, who we are with, and the kind of life we appear to be living. The key word in that sentence is “appear.” After checking Instagram countless times during the day and always comparing my life and body to other’s, I realized that people only post what they want you to see. On Instagram, we can perfectly edit our lives to appear precisely how we want them to. I’m not saying that everyone does, but there’s certainly a lot of thought that goes into posting.

After watching zombies walk around my campus on phones and listening to silent conversations at restaurants, as well as my excessive amount of time essentially watching other people’s lives, I decided to delete the app. I sent out a farewell post, my freshly showered face without makeup, and was on my way back into the real world. Using this experience, I wanted to share my withdraw, if you will, from social media over the course of the following days.

Day 1: Deletion Day

If I was going to do this right, I needed to fully commit. Once the photo posted, I hit delete. It sounds strange to say, but as soon as I deleted the app I wanted to see how my farewell post was doing. That in itself proved that it needed to be done.

As I drove to class, I couldn’t help but feel proud, like my Pinocchio strings had been detached and I was finally walking on my own. No more proving to the world that I was having a great time with my friends, or that my winter outfit is #supercozy. My hands and mind definitely itched for my phone a few times during class, but when I picked it up I realized I had no reason to. Having no Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat is surprisingly liberating.

During down time is when my mind itches for social media the most. Commercial break? Instagram. Walking alone in public? Instagram. Waiting in line? Instagram. Where social media once filled these pauses, I now notice peaceful, calm moments. I don’t always need to be on my phone, looking at a screen. These moments can be used as a conscious break for myself, a moment to look up and notice the world around me.

Day 3: Transitioning

I admit it. I’m not proud of it. I caved. I wanted to see how the post did so I had my boyfriend show it to me, and I was delightfully surprised by how many supportive comments I received… and also humored because people left comments even though they knew I was deleting my account and therefore wouldn’t see them. Well, if I hadn’t cheated by using someone else’s phone, I wouldn’t have seen them. One of my friends commented, “take me with you lol” and another “see you in real life, Tofu.” (My nickname is Tofu but that’ll have to be explained in another article.) I felt an overwhelming amount of support, and with that in mind, I closed the app before my addiction could get the best of me.

Later that night I received another comment, this time in person, from my friend Erik. He said, “Tofu, you inspired me to delete my Instagram, too. I hope you start a movement.” At first I just smiled and laughed, saying I was glad to have been a positive influence. But then I started thinking… What if I could start a movement?

Day 7: Liberation

This may be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve gone from checking my phone every ten minutes to only looking at my phone if someone calls or texts me. There’s a slight urge to reach for that little tech rectangle every once in a while, but I find myself paying more attention to conversations, focusing for longer periods on school work, and using my time more productively.

Now I’m certainly not perfect by any means, but I can already feel that deleting my Instagram has lowered my stress and anxiety levels by a good ten notches. It feels so satisfying to be “off the grid,” in a sense. If you want to know what’s going on in my life, you can text me, call me, or see me in person. Sure, a huge aspect of social media is the being social part, but it’s ultimately become a platform for comparison and watching others. We should live our lives in the present moment, not worrying about “capturing the moment” so that we can showcase it later for others on social media.

If you want a fresh perspective on life, I highly recommend deleting your Instagram, or any social media. It will break you away from all of the advertising and framing and glorifying that exists in the artificial world of technology and the Internet. Now that I’ve deleted mine, I suppose you’ll only know what I’m doing through my blog or if you talk to me. Did I just drop out of college or win the lottery? Guess you may never find out.

I’m Fine – Focus on Sound

Another video project. This one uses a focus on sound to demonstrate how stress can warp your sense of reality. By building and overlapping sound, the viewer can start to understand how overwhelmed the student is feeling.

A project I worked on for one of my classes. I typically don’t do very personal or serious videos and thought I would challenge myself with this one. So, here it is.

Mini Monuments

South Africa Favorites

Here are a few of my favorite shots from our safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa!

 

To many people, the main purpose of travelling is to experience a new place, see a landmark that you’ve been dreaming of ever since you were little, check something off your bucket list. But sometimes the most memorable part of traveling isn’t even the scenery itself, but the people you meet. By far, the best way to meet people is to stay in a hostel.

For a long time, I never understood what a hostel actually was. Is it a hotel? Is it a dingy room with beds all over the place where people are crammed in like sardines? Can anyone walk in? Is it safe? Well, a lot of these questions depend on where you stay, but a hostel is essentially like a more laid-back version of a hotel. You get to stay in a room with your own bed, usually bunks, but there can be anywhere from 1 to 8 (sometimes even more) other people in your room.

This may sound overwhelming and like a complete invasion of privacy, but the bedrooms are typically quiet, as there are other common rooms and areas where guests hang out. There are also usually safes and storage rooms to keep larger or more valuable items. And, a major bonus for the young traveler, is that hostels are usually way way WAY cheaper than a hotel.

When researching for a hostel to stay in, you can usually get a feel for the place based on the reviews. I typically use hostelworld.com for all of my research. They provide information regarding location, cost, facilities, pictures, reviews, and more.

Whether you’re looking for a “party hostel” or something a little more laid back, there is a place out there that will suit your needs. Keep in mind how long you will be staying for, as well as the location. As a traveler without a car, I always look for a hostel that is close to the city center or to public transport. Also keep in mind your sleeping habits. Do you want to be at a hostel where the protocol is to pub crawl every night, or somewhere that offers a more relaxed vibe? Center city or city edges? Eight beds per room or four? How much are you looking to spend? There are just a few questions to consider.

Aside from the ever-looming money concept, hostels are such a beautiful creation because they are breeding grounds for conversation. With people from all over the world who are traveling for different reasons, it’s so easy to spark up a conversation. Many people in hostels are young travelers on their own or in small groups, often looking to meet other people as well. Once you get chatting, it’s frequently the case that you end up going out somewhere or adventuring together, and that’s when the real fun begins.

Sometimes others have plans and you tag along, sometimes you have no idea what to do and side with a spontaneous decision. Those are always my favorite memories. The stories you hear and the friendships you make can last a lifetime. Not to mention, more connections around the globe only give you more reason to travel. So the next time you’re planning a trip, consider a hostel instead of a hotel.

 

Cape Town 2017 Summer 

All the places I’ve explored, mountains I’ve climbed, and people I’ve met. Cape Town is definitely one for the books.

Kruger From a Car Window

How do you know if your safari in a national park was “good” if the closest thing you can compare it to is a visit to the zoo?

I traveled to both Kruger National Park in South Africa and Etosha National Park in Namibia this summer, and found that they were very different. The terrain in Etosha was flat and wide open, allowing you to see all the way to the horizon. It was the exact type of landscape I expected after watching The Lion King. Easy to spot the animals, but not as much of an adventure to find them.

On the other hand, Kruger was filled with all different types of habitat and terrains, changing every fifty or so kilometers. There was shrubbery, grassland, trees, hills. For this reason, it felt like more of a safari to me. I never knew what was hiding behind the next tree or just around the corner. Whereas everything in Etosha was very arid and barren, Kruger offered more variety for different kinds of wildlife.

I would say it’s difficult to compare the parks because of the vastly different terrain and varying wildlife inhabitants, but after looking through my pictures I’ve realized just why Kruger is inching forward to claim a special place in my heart. The animals came so close to the car it felt like I could touch them, which is exciting but simultaneously terrifying. I’d be lying if I didn’t say my heart rate spiked once or twice.

So, how did I decide if my safari was “good” or not? I simply looked out my car window. These are just a few my views from Kruger National Park, and for this very reason Kruger park wins hands down over Etosha.

 

 

Greece Summer 2017

This summer I was lucky enough to visit my boyfriend and his family in the stunning town of Tyros, Greece. Here are just a few of my favorite moments!

South Africa Highlights Video