By Teck Lim
Living a day without technology is like being a fish out of water. For a moment, you feel liberated in a novel world, but then you start to realize it’s slightly hard to breathe. You flap around helplessly. You feel lost, alienated, and before you know it, trapped. Fortunately, unlike a fish, you don’t die so easily. But you begin to wonder if that’s really a good thing.
You look around you at the people talking away on their cellphones, typing away on their tablets, plugged into their music devices- in their own world. And in that moment, you know that you are an outcast. You do not belong here. There is no place in this society for you. You try to brush everything aside, and find a space of solace. Maybe in a park, next to a tree. And you find that perfect place.
For five full minutes, the world finally comes to a standstill. You seem to have found your element. But like everything in life, all good things must come to an end. A couple walks past, arms linked, lovingly. This should not matter, except they are both on their phones, chatting away. And you think to yourself: ‘Why, when you have each other to love, do you need digital affairs with another person? Why must you contaminate the real with the digital?’
Then all of a sudden, your world collapses again. The conviction that there is no place for you is reasserted. You know something is wrong, but you just can’t point it out. You know if you keep thinking like this, you will go crazy. Or maybe it is the world around you that is crazy. You begin to wonder if this is how people feel in the early stages of schizophrenia. Slowly, anger creeps into your veins, because you suspect that you are the only rational being able to see through the guise of the world. But before you begin making those opinions concrete, and begin to think you are better than everyone else, a single line from Walden strikes home.
“Let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our brows, and take up a little life into our pores. Do not stay to be an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of the world.”
And like that, your eyes are open again, and you begin to realize that it is easier to criticize than to polish one’s self when placed in a foreign situation. Humility begins to brew in your heart, and you understand that whatever others are doing is their own affair. All you can do, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, is to “live in the midst of the crowd, and keep in perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”