A week without…
March 22, 2011
My attempt at a week without my cell phone
It’s a known fact that many Americans — especially high school students — are too “plugged in” to technology.
So in honor of March’s National Day of Unplugging, I was asked by my editor to spend an entire week without using my phone.
Unplugging myself was much easier said than done. After trying and failing several times, I realized that a week without a cell phone is virtually impossible. As hard as I tried, I often found myself sending a text message or making a call.
Nevertheless, the National Day of Unplugging wasn’t a complete failure for me. While I still carried my cell phone with me every day, I only texted or called when absolutely necessary. I set an actual alarm clock for the first time in years instead of using the one on my phone.
These changes, however, weren’t the difficult ones. Spending a week without having Angry Birds, Facebook, Cliff’s Notes, Words With Friends and all my other favorite apps in the palm of my hand was practically torture. By the end of the week, though, it had become easier to live without my smart phone glued to my hand.
Even though I technically cheated, I still learned my lesson — it’s nice not to be constantly distracted by technology. In the end, that’s what the National Day of Unplugging is about.
My week without TV
OK, I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to TV.
After Advanced Placement classes, class council and extracurricular activities, I look forward to coming home to a half-hour of “How I Met Your Mother” or a weekly episode of “Glee.”
Needless to say, seven days without my favorite shows wasn’t something I was looking forward to. Still, I went into the week curious to see exactly how it would play out.
For the first few days, I had enough homework that I didn’t really notice the lack of TV — I went home, slaved over essays and fell asleep.
At the beginning, I had expected to get my homework done early in the evening, since there was no buffer between school and school assignments or to at least relax with a book.
Unfortunately, trying to relax with a book after spending an entire day pouring over books didn’t help me unwind as much as some quality time with “The Office.”
Since I felt that I had so much more free time without TV, I actually ended spending more time on the Internet or reading. Throughout the week I started going to bed later to make up for the lost hours.
Call it withdrawal, but I wound up more stressed out. By the weekend, I was really regretting not being able to crash in front of the TV.
If there was anything I learned from this TV-free week, it’s that we are hooked to our electronic media. But maybe, with technology becoming such a vital part of our society, it isn’t necessarily such a bad thing.
My week in silence
I started on Tuesday, March 1, because there wasn’t a new “Glee” that week that I would miss when I had to swear off music. I had little faith in my ability to forgo a new episode and thought it would be wise to take advantage of the programming break.
However, truth be told, it did not matter that much. I skipped “Glee,” watching something less musical in its place, only to be bombarded by tunes as soon as the commercials came on.
Commercials, I realized at that moment, contain music. Lots of it. This was going to be harder than I had anticipated.
Even in deliberately avoiding music — leaving my iPod in my room, muting the radio in my car, ignoring YouTube videos posted on Facebook — I still could not ignore music altogether.
Music is universal, cultural and an integral part of our lives. Try as I might to steer clear of it, I only became more aware of the presence of music around me.
If I were to fully, completely and absolutely commit to ridding myself of music, I would have to avoid TV, stores and other public places, and even the occasional class in school. In essence, I would have to be a recluse in order to fully escape.
But music is more than just social media or the latest trend. Music has been around almost as long as mankind, and with or without technology, will continue to exist as long as we do, providing a connection from culture to culture and person to person.
A failed attempt to disconnect
Just minutes after I had boldly declared I would be spending seven days partaking in an Internet fast, I immediately regretted my decision.
The worst part was not being able to look things up. That meant I had to actually use my textbooks when I did my homework. That meant I had to actually write my assignments down, rather than looking at them later on the website.
That also meant that I had to rely on friends to print out online worksheets for me and bring them to me. The problem is that I don’t have nearly as much trust for people as I do the Internet. I have more faith in Wikipedia than I do in a friend to do a simple favor for me.
I started finding exceptions to the “week without Internet,” and felt that they were reasonably justified by my academic obligations. However, one thing led to another, the temptations became unbearable, and I was back on Facebook by day four. As I scrolled down the endless abyss that we call a newsfeed, I had an epiphany.
I am a lot more clever over the Internet, and I am a lot better at communicating when I am hidden behind my computer screen. I think only my Facebook friends think I’m funny.
It is a strange phenomenon, that we feel the need to document our lives and to have access to everyone else’s at our fingertips. As a generation, we are obsessed with keeping ourselves busy. Without this “information superhighway,” we are deprived of news, gossip and instant answers.