How I Use Fortune Cookies to Create Tech-Life Balance
by Sara Badrani, Co-founder of Challenge Cookies Growing up, I was never fond of technology. To be quite frank, the only “technology” I enjoyed was watching reruns of the Saturday morning cartoons with my sister. It wasn’t until middle school that I was introduced to the idea of ubiquitous and constant connectivity. As I watched my classmates fall deeper and deeper in love with technology, I strayed away from it, focusing on my overread books. This distance was hard for me to maintain as I noticed everyone around me hop on the technology bandwagon. Although I was trying to enhance my real-life relationships by maintaining boundaries with technology, I actually felt isolated and excluded from my community. By high school, I began to give into the trend. Once immersed in technology myself, I understood why everyone was so addicted, specifically with social media. It was an obsessive habit: constantly thinking about what people had posted, what people had commented, and how people were going to view your post. To be honest, it was quite exhausting. There was all this unneeded pressure to be perfect, when in reality I was falling apart! High school was already a stressful time for me, and social media was only exacerbating that stress. As I was introduced to this Lookup Startup competition during my junior year of college, these traumatic experiences from my high school past came back to haunt me. I realized that the issue of balancing technology was still (if not more) pertinent today, and I wanted to help. I wanted students to get the support that I never had the opportunity to find. As a result, my friend Nikta and I created one of the winning ideas known as “Challenge Cookies.” Through this idea, our goal is to help students in coming up with different ways to foster tech-life balance. Initially, we were very skeptical of our idea due to fear of negative criticism. We weren’t sure how students were going to react to such a unique and different idea. However, Nikta and I had such great passion for this idea that we decided to move forward. We began to order fortune cookies with customized messages, as well as flyers in an attempt to spread this important message to the USD community. While the journey was challenging due to the unpredictable pandemic, we were very proud of the work done, and look forward to spreading the message in the fall. As I look at various educational institutions, I realize that this problem is evident everywhere, and the only way we can improve is if we go out and make the effort to change. Individuals of all ages, whether from middle school, high school, or college have struggled with maintaining tech-life balance, and while there have been admirable efforts, they remain ineffective. Of course, not all technology is bad, especially when used in moderation. Ultimately, a healthy tech-life balance comes down to being able to maintain your use of technology. Having the ability to know when enough is enough is so crucial because it prevents you from missing out on the wonders and beauty of the real, non-digital world. While technology has helped us progress tremendously as a society, it has also prevented us from truly living our lives. It has instilled in us a mental toxicity that has forced us to question ourselves and who we are. A key source of this self-doubt is social media. As we look at all these “perfect” and “flawless” pictures, we start thinking this is the way we’re supposed to be, that this is the true definition of beauty. As a result, we strive to be like them and degrade ourselves if we aren’t able to meet those impossible, idealistic standards. Through Challenge Cookies, I hope students from around all campuses are able to become inspired and maintain a better tech life balance. When looking at future graduating classes, there is much advice I have when it comes to managing tech-life balance in college; however, the main piece I hope to offer has to do with appreciating the world around you. In college, you will have so many wonderful opportunities to branch out and try new things, things that are actually real. And these experiences are what ultimately shape who you are. I strongly advise you to look up from your phone screen and take in the amazing opportunities given to you because, unlike technology, you can’t restart your life. Once the moment passes, it’s gone.