TTYL, A Tech-Free Community Dedicated to Human Connection

This blog post is written by the founder of TTYL, Liana Pavane. TTYL allows you to unplug and be yourself while having meaningful interactions with the people around you. The founders of LOG OFF strongly suggest looking into TTYL and the plethora of resources they provide.

When I was a teenager, the rise of technology and social media was just beginning to

spike. Snapchat wasn’t around, and Instagram was starting to get on people’s radar. I

got my first iPhone senior year of high school and my first Instagram account with it. I

had no idea how much time it was about to take over my life.

Flash forward to college where I first fell victim to the addictions of technology. Social

media was the culprit, and I was on my phone 24/7 (even when I was watching Netflix).

My phone would die two times a day, and whenever I got dressed for a party, a

photoshoot would be the designated pre-game. We would take hundreds of pictures to

get the perfect shot for Instagram. The idea of looking picture-perfect became one of the

most important parts of my life in college (which is wild to look back on now).

I dreamt up the idea for TTYL—a tech-free community dedicated to human connection—

immediately after I graduated from college. I was on vacation with my family, scrolling

through my phone, and I instantly felt FOMO for my friends back home. At that moment I

stopped myself and thought, “Wait, I’m in a foreign country right now. Shouldn’t I be

living in the moment? Shouldn’t I experience my life versus scrolling through someone

else’s?” As a kid, I was brought up in a very healthy tech household. I wasn’t allowed to

watch TV during the week, and I never learned how to play video games. How had I

become dependent and obsessed with my phone?Something had to change, and it started with putting my phone away. That’s whenI first started researching the effects of screen time and technology. 

Being a young adult is an extremely vulnerable time in an adolescent’s life. Your brain is

going through major developmental changes, specifically around the prefrontal cortex,

which is responsible for planning and problem-solving. According to Psychology Today,

“two recent studies have found that dopamine and cortisol levels—along with a gene

called DCC—are part of a chain reaction that dramatically influences teenage

development and connectivity of the prefrontal cortex.” Maybe not so ironically,

dopamine is one of the main hormones released when we scroll through social media.

These apps are strategically designed to be addictive, and therefore, strongly influence

young adult’s minds. 

Social media was created to release copious amounts of dopamine through likes,

comments, and followers. Today, teens are taught to believe the higher their social

media presence is, the more socially acceptable they will be in real social situations.

However, the opposite has proven to be true. The more time teens spend on social

media, the lower their self-esteem becomes. In a study conducted by The Royal Society

Of Public Health, “Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all led to increased

feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image, and loneliness.” The more adolescents

from the ages of 14-24 spend on social media, the more dissatisfied with themselves

they become.

Being a teenager is already tough enough. You have to deal with bullies in the

classroom, and now cyberbullying is at an all-time high as more and more platforms

emerge. I remember in my high school, there was a GIF going around making fun of a

fellow classmate. That was a decade ago. Today, teenagers are not only being bullied

behind their backs online, but they also have to deal with the inadequacy they feel when

comparing themselves to their classmates, influencers, and celebrities every day...right

at their fingertips. 

Although there’s less direct bullying in the adult world, the comparison culture never

stops. I still have days when I scroll mindlessly and compare myself to people whose

lives “look” fancier than mine. Even as a digital wellness coach, I know I’m not perfect,

but I choose to acknowledge when I’m scrolling it means I’m actively avoiding something

in my life. Whereas, as a teenager, I had no coping mechanisms and zero understanding

of why I spent so much time online. 

Social media emerged into the world without proper forethought. No one really knew the

dire effects it would have on our brains, our behaviors, and our society. Over time,

experts have uncovered its impact on our mental wellbeing, which we can choose to

listen to or ignore. If I were a teenager today, I would probably still have social media,

but I’d wish someone told me that I could get even more endorphins from receiving a

five-second hug.

That hug mentality was huge when I was building my company. When it came to

designing my events for TTYL, I realized that people needed something to replace their

phone with. (Yes, we are all that addicted.) For that reason, all of my events have board

games, coloring, and playdoh, while most also have food and alcohol. I bring in special

activations for each event that are centered around a theme. For example, my mystical

night featured tarot and aura readers while my live entertainment night featured singers

and comedians. Each of my events offers moments of human connection and, of course,

fun. The catch? Everyone must drop their phones off at the front door.

Creating TTYL allowed me to create a judgement-free zone that hit pause on

comparison culture. This allowed a community to become a place where everyone is

welcome no matter what they look like, where they’re from, or what their beliefs are.

TTYL is a place where everyone can let the online world go and connect with people in

real life. And it’s the connection part that always amazes me. It’s amazing how a smile,

eye contact, or a hug can elevate our mood for hours, whereas the feeling of 100 likes

on an Instagram post is fleeting.

So, the next time you find yourself scrolling on your phone, I encourage you to stop to

ask yourself, “why am I here? And where else can I be?” Hopefully, post-COVD 19, you

can find yourself at our next event. Until then, check out our virtual programming.

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