Dateline | January 07, 2013
LAURA SCHNEIDER: If this isn't it, then we're just giving up and going home .
NATALIE MORALES: It might not seem like the end of the world , driving from Hermosa Beach to Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood Hills , but these four friends were in the middle of a digital detox and they had no GPS to guide them.
KENDALL KLINGLER: All right. I think we should take this squiggly line.
NATALIE MORALES: And so they did something virtually no one does these days --
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Excuse me? Could you tell me how we get to Runyon Canyon ?
LAURA SCHNEIDER: Do you know were Runyon is?
I can't remember when last time we stopped for directions but we got a great bouquet of flowers out of it.
KENDALL KLINGLER: Aren't they beautiful? Always a silver lining.
NATALIE MORALES: But Rosalie was about to have the group's most difficult detox challenge yet -- waiting for a friend at a restaurant with no phone, no friend, and no e-company from the twitteratti.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Oh my God.
NATALIE MORALES: And to make things just a little harder for her, we told the friend to show up an hour late.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I'm kind of getting, like, really nervous and maybe having a panic attack. I don't know what's happening.
NATALIE MORALES: With no phone to tap away on, she used a napkin as her Twitter feed.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: So I tweet on a napkin. I hate my life. Thanks DATELINE.
NATALIE MORALES: So uncomfortable being alone, she moved to the bar and did something she says she never does.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I don't have a phone right now, and I'm waiting for a friend.
NATALIE MORALES: She struck up a conversation with people she didn't know.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's so hard. I don't know how I could do that.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I know. It's crazy.
NATALIE MORALES: Moments later, the bartender asked for her number. She didn't have her phone, of course, so he gave her his number instead.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Oh, my God. I'm like, so happy to see you right now.
NATALIE MORALES: By the time her friend showed up, Rosalie had gone from near panic attack to her first detox breakthrough.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: That definitely would not have happened if I have had had my phone because I could have kept myself occupied. I'm kind of happy right now. Having a good time.
NATALIE MORALES: But back at the house, there had been long days and nights with no access to social media . And the roommates were getting on each other's nerves. Cassie says usually when she's annoyed, she'll fire off an angry text without thinking. But now another breakthrough, she realized digital venting wasn't the best way to handle conflicts.
CASSIE MAY: It's so easy to use your phone as, like, a way of, like, expressing yourself, but sometimes I need to relax on expressing myself a little bit and let myself think it over.
NATALIE MORALES: But as the days wore on, the desire to e-connect only got stronger.
CASSIE MAY: I underestimated just how bad it would be.
LAURA SCHNEIDER: I seriously, like, ten times wanted to log on to Facebook , ten times.
KENDALL KLINGLER: It's frustrating that I feel like I have no idea what's going on in the world.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: We saw Jack Osbourne . I totally wanted to tweet about it. I had an urge.
NATALIE MORALES: All of them missed their digital lives. So they came up with an idea -- a brick-and-mortar version of Facebook .
LAURA SCHNEIDER: You guys, we should all take profile pictures.
NATALIE MORALES: Post-It and Polaroids were surrogates for Twitter and Instagram .
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: How about, I miss you tweets?
NATALIE MORALES: The wall may have started out as a substitute for social media , but it gave Rosalie an entirely new perspective about all that online sharing.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: While we were writing on the Post-It tweets, I was, like, realizing that there were things that I didn't want to write on Post-It , and I was like if I don't want to write this on Post-It , why am I tweeting these things, like, I tweet the most random things?
NATALIE MORALES: The girls had survived almost two weeks without their smartphones.
KENDALL KLINGLER: Cheers.
NATALIE MORALES: And at their final unplugged brunch, rings, dings and distractions were replaced with actual human interaction.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: My mind is more clear.
CASSIE MAY: Mm-Hm .
LAURA SCHNEIDER: Really? I think so too. Like --
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I'm forced to, like, think more. I know it sounds, like, really stupid but --
LAURA SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
NATALIE MORALES: And for Cassie , a major turn. She no longer needed all those digital updates. Online ignorance led to real-life bliss.
CASSIE MAY: Right now, like, according --
LAURA SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
CASSIE MAY: -- to me nobody went out so --
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Yeah. So --
CASSIE MAY: -- I didn't miss out on anything fun. And now I feel well-rested.
NATALIE MORALES: From the very beginning, it was all about talking like this and looking up and down and all about what's online. And now there seems to be more of a conversation .
CASSIE MAY: We definitely I think got closer. We talk to each other. There wasn't anybody else involved. There wasn't, like, the entire world on, you know, our phones.
NATALIE MORALES: The -- the -- the quality of your lives has improved --
CASSIE MAY: Oh, yeah.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Definitely.
NATALIE MORALES: -- in that sense.
CASSIE MAY: We're a little less of a dysfunctional family now.
NATALIE MORALES: Experts say loss of sleep and the constant urge to reach for your phone in the car or even in the midst of a conversation are all common signs of over-dependence on your Smartphone . So if you're wondering if going on a digital diet should be on your list of New Year's resolutions , Professor Sherry Turkle of MIT says you don't have to go cold turkey. She says a healthy digital diet might start with creating a device-free zone in your home -- a place for no texting just talking.
SHERRY TURKLE: We've substituted connection for conversation . And now it's time to set it right . Because there are things we say to each other when we talk to each other without the interruption of our phones that need to be said.
NATALIE MORALES: When you get your phone back, do you think you're going to go back to the old ways?
CASSIE MAY: I feel like I, like, went through rehab and finally, like, accepting, I'm like I kind of like it. I mean ideally, I'd preserve something and, you know, but I know how easy it is and we're all addicted to our phones that, like, it's -- I -- I don't know.
NATALIE MORALES: Cassie predicted she and her roommates would all relapse the moment they got their phones back. And she was right.
You' were like fanning yourself.
CASSIE MAY: Yeah, it's just so much like --
NATALIE MORALES: What's going on here?
CASSIE MAY: It's like, I don't even --
KENDALL KLINGLER: Oh, USC did win.
LAURA SCHNEIDER: Oh. Invitation.
CASSIE MAY: Oh, my gosh. Facebook ?
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Oh, my God. Ooh , friend requests. Ooh , e-mails.
NATALIE MORALES: How many of you actually thought about cheating?
KENDALL KLINGLER: It would have been really easy.
LAURA SCHNEIDER: But we didn't, like --
KENDALL KLINGLER: We didn't.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Oh, my God.
NATALIE MORALES: Already the rings and dings had derailed our conversation . I realized there was only one way to get it back on track.
Turn them off.
LAURA SCHNEIDER: Oh, what?
NATALIE MORALES: I can't have a conversation , a real conversation with you guys --
CASSIE MAY: Right.
NATALIE MORALES: -- looking at your phones.
LAURA SCHNEIDER: True.
NATALIE MORALES: Off. Off. Off. So the overall effect that the detox had on you?
LAURA SCHNEIDER: I was less distracted.
ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I think everybody should have to experience this because everybody is addicted to their phones.
NATALIE MORALES: So what would you all tweet right now if you were to tweet?