This past weekend, I stumbled upon an article in Time Magazine discussing one man’s attempts to go technology-free for 24 hours. The slightly predictable conclusion of the man’s challenge was that, while rewarding, it is highly impractical to live in the Western world today without technology. This got me thinking. Could I, as a student at the College of William and Mary, spend a day on campus without electronics?
My first response was that I could, without a doubt, complete a 24-hour purge of technology, as I am not a particularly tech-savvy person. In fact, compared to most of my peers, I am years behind in the latest gadget trends. My cell phone only performs two functions: texting and calling. I cannot check my e-mail or listen to music on my phone, and touching its screen will only leave smudges. I am stuck with a school-recommended laptop whose battery died about two years ago and no longer functions without a power cord. This means that it stays happily plugged-in and on my desk 24/7, 365 days a year. Due to the inadequacy of my computer, I sit in class with only a pencil and a notebook, and I take notes 50s style. I don’t walk across campus with my iPod on, and I virtually never watch TV during the week. So how tough could 24 hours without electronics really be? As it turns out, it wouldn’t be hard— it would be impossible. Observe a hypothetical day in my life without any gadgets:
8:37 a.m.: My alarm goes off. Oh wait, no it doesn’t, because I set my wake-up alarm on my phone, and my phone is currently off limits. Tech-free alternative: The sun rises and shines through my window, waking me up just at the right time to leave for class.
10:50 a.m.: I head to the library to get some work done and to start research for one of my final papers. False. I forgot that I’m not supposed to be using a computer. I can’t even use the online library database to look for actual books because that, too, is in electronic form.
12:13 p.m.: At this time, I would generally text a friend to grab lunch. Since this is also forbidden, I must refrain. Apparently, this 24-hour gadget-free period means a 24-hour socializing-free period as well.
2:49 p.m.: I’m bored in one of those awful classrooms without a clock. Of course, I don’t have my phone, so I can’t check the time.
3:30 p.m.: I realize that it is absolutely impossible to do any of my homework. I can’t even check my assignments or do any readings, since they are all on Blackboard. I also have an inkling that my professor won’t be too happy with a hand-written response paper. Maybe I could use this free time to practice my cursive.
6:00 p.m.: Dinnertime. Once again I am left without a means of contacting friends. Tech-free alternative: Meander around campus until I run into a familiar face.
8:00 p.m.: I’m off on a run. I can’t use my iPod, so I am left to my own thoughts. It turns out those thoughts tell me that I am tired and would really rather walk, so I do.
9:00 p.m.: Left without my laptop, cell phone, music and television, I realize that I simply don’t have much to do. I decide to read instead.
10:00 p.m.: I’m bored. Might as well go to sleep.
As you can plainly see, a day without technology at the College is quite difficult to achieve. Practically all of our school work requires a computer¬¬—reading, writing and research are now impossible without one. Ironically, technology provides the primary form of procrastination among students. Without access to YouTube, Facebook, AddictingGames, StumbleUpon, or any other such sites, students would have an enormous amount of time on their hands. Also evident is the fact that most interaction with friends is initiated via texting, calling, G-chatting or Facebook. It definitely makes you wonder how friends made dates prior to all of this technology.
In conclusion, I don’t recommend that anyone actually attempt the 24-hour technology free challenge. Your friends will think you ditched them, your professors will not like your excuses, your mother will be upset because you didn’t call and you won’t be able to get anything done because your alarm never went off. I rest my case.
__Emily Walker is the Confusion Corner columnist. She is a texting tazmanian devil.__