Outside of class, Ramon Galloway gives back to the community through "Unpack and Unwind." Photo by Riley Williams.

Student helps community ‘Unpack and Unwind’ from technology

April 15, 2024

Take a walk through N.C. Central University and you will see a smartphone in the hands of almost every student you pass by.

Smartphone and social media use are an integral part of communication for younger generations, but screen addiction can quickly alter the course of your life, if you let it.

So NCCU mass communication junior Ramon Galloway started an off-campus non-profit support group to combat the screen addictions he saw around him.

“My nonprofit is called Unpack and Unwind, and it’s community-based,” Galloway, 27, said. “It’s centered around activities that are based on limiting your screen time. So that’s all screens: phone, tablet [and] computer.”

The idea had been in the back of Galloway’s mind for a few years, but it came to the forefront in 2021 after a fight with his then-girlfriend, who “could never understand” why he wasn’t on his phone.

“She thought it was me being sneaky. She was always on her phone and was always showing me things,” Galloway said, chuckling at the memory.

That late summer evening, Galloway decided he wasn’t in the mood to watch his former partner scroll on the social media app TikTok.

He said he was shocked at the “toxic” content she was constantly viewing on the app, and realized how it was shaping her perceptions of him and harming their relationship.

“That’s when I realized her being on her phone wasn’t even a conscious decision for her. It was just a knee jerk reaction,” Galloway said. “Now the problem was right in my face, I needed to put it out to the world, or my community, instead of just internalizing it.”

Unpack and Unwind had its first event in December 2023, and its second event in February, a no-phone social event at Congress Social Bar, a black- and queer-owned business in Durham.

“What Ramon is doing is probably going to be bigger than even [he] thinks it’s going to be,” NCCU Lecturer Brett Chambers said.

Chambers said he has had Galloway in a class for two semesters and has appreciated that Galloway has sought guidance and mentorship during office hours.

“When I first met Ramon, I could just tell there was something different about him,” Chambers recalled. “He was inquisitive, and he had a great attitude. If I suggested something, or other people suggested something, he would follow up.”

Galloway was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and spent the first decade of his life there before moving to Raleigh with his father and stepmother. He has two siblings, aged 13 and 17.

Galloway said his relationship with technology, growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was more limited than what his younger siblings have now.

“I didn’t get a phone until I was about 12, and that was because I walked home from school. My phone was a flip phone,” Galloway said.  “Both my little siblings have iPhones and have had them for some time.  They’re just attached to their phones, and there’s no separation or boundaries with the device.  It creates this reality that nothing else is going on outside of it.”

Galloway’s non-profit has drawn some interest from classmates.

“I think it would be a great way to get off campus and meet new people, other than the people that are here at NCCU,” mass communication junior Bella Dearinger said. “It’d be a great way to prioritize my mental health.”

Galloway said he has big plans for Unpack and Unwind, with phone-free events like yoga on the beach, and a paint and sip night, on the horizon. Outside of school, he practices good screen time management with a scheduled, weekly screen-time detox.

“One day out of the week I do a no-phone day,” Galloway said. “It’s usually on a Tuesday. I set my alarm the night before.  I wake up and turn my phone off for the rest of the day.

“That is normally the best day of my week.”

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Outside of class, Ramon Galloway gives back to the community through "Unpack and Unwind." Photo by Riley Williams.
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