When the 24 hour media and technology blackout was first announced, everyone in class groaned, but I didn’t. I thought to myself how easy this was going to be. I did this on my own every summer at camp where I am 100% off the grid for over a month with absolutely no technology. This assignment was only for 24 hours, so I thought this would be no big deal I thought.
Normally, I would set an alarm on my phone for about 7:30, but instead, I hide my phone in the drawer the night before so I would wake up the morning of the 24 hour technology “black out” naturally. Unfortunately it was not with the sun. The sun was already high in the sky, I had slept until 10:34 a.m. I have never slept in this late! I became completely thrown off, feeling like I had already wasted a huge chunk of my day. I reached for my phone, it was a reflex, something I did without thinking. I felt a slight panic set in and I was almost desperate to cheat and look at it. I quickly backed away rushing to get ready and make up for lost time.
Walking across campus was usually a pretty uneventful experience. I would listen to music or aimlessly scroll through a constant feed of useless information posted by my friends. I had to remind myself that today I probably wasn’t missing anything, and it was fine not to have my phone. I still had an incredible anxiety building inside me that I was missing something VERY important. The sun seemed so bright and I had no where to look but around me. I could hear bit and pieces of other’s conversations. I noticed the palm trees towering over the buildings. I heard the marching band off in the distance. Strange, I thought, I never noticed or heard either before.
During class my need to reach for my phone didn’t hit me. But the moment class was dismissed, what did hit me was that everyone around reached into their backpacks and purses, before even standing up, and began the long stare at their phones as they shuffled out the door. I looked around trying to catch the eye of someone who I might strike up a conversation with or share a smile. Unfortunately, everyone was too busy, or at least pretending to be to busy. Then I was really hit, hit with the realization that what this technology blackout did for me. It brought to my attention how powerful technology really is. It has the ability to open the world up to us, but also to shut us off from the world; off from the present, and the right here, right now.
~the next day~
Today my phone alarm rang at 7:30 a.m. How lovely it was to wake up early and get things done. It’s a ritual of mine, lying in bed before even putting my feet on the ground to scroll through phone. I usually start with the texts, as those show up first. I might respond to a couple, especially if they have a questions attached. I then head to Instagram to see what my friends did the night before. There is a certain responsibility with Instagram, and it is “to like” or “not to “like” posts by friends. Much of what I see I end up “liking” just because that is what you do. I don’t look at everybody’s snap chat that I follow. Some are so stupid and it isn’t worth the time. Often I find myself very judgemental when I open others as I watch them saying and doing silly things and wonder why they bothered filming this and taking the time to post it. But then the dialog with myself continues with, “why am I wasting my time even looking at this!”
I spend a lot of time on my laptop during the day, especially for school. I save things in files and use the internet as a huge resource. It allows me to gather information quickly and efficiently. During the average day I may google up to 20 different things, from how to do something to what time a restaurant closes. The convenience in being able to look up a menu, find the shortest distance to my destination, make a reservation is something that we all take for granted, or so I am told. I don’t know it any other way, but as I learned during my 24 hours blackout, I have become very dependent on the convenience and instant information that I can receive through technology.