The Technology Fast

Brittany VanBibber

My friend Jess was kind enough to take a photo of my non-tech activities. Notice the switched off phone, evidence of my discipline (barely).

Lasting a day without technology in this age is like trying to go a day without eating. It’s a task that takes discipline and self-control, but also requires a motive. And what is a better motive for a technology-free day than merely proving to yourself that you can do it? Most food fasts are associated with religion, and although this is not the case for “technology fasting,” it may not be such a bad idea to ask God for help when going 24 hours without using a cellphone or laptop.
On a typical morning I wake up and grab my phone to check the weather, which is also the first thing I did on my day without technology. I’ve already failed and the day has barely begun. I blame this slip up on habit and grogginess. Once I came to my senses I reprimanded myself and vowed not to repeat my mistake. Getting ready for the day without the use of technology was a breeze: shower, dress, brush my teeth, etc. I had this no-technology stuff in the bag. I pack my purse with readings and homework for my classes in preparation for spending the day in a WiFi-free coffee shop. I go to check the time, and out of habit again, check my phone. At this point I decide that it’s better if I turn my phone off.

On the way to the café I get turned around. At this point I’m convinced that the universe is conspiring against me. I had never been there before, so I go to reach for my phone. However, the blank, dead screen reminded me of my technology probation. So this is how New Yorkers felt before iPhones. Before I get to the point where I’m feeling sorry for myself I get reoriented and eventually end up in the right location. The time at the coffee shop passes faster than I had expected it to, and I’m feeling pretty confident about abstaining from technology. Once distracted at the coffee shop, however, I begin to notice that everyone around me is using his or her iPhone, smartphone, laptop, iPad, or something else you plug into a wall socket. Though I feel tempted, I am also feeling a sense of pride for not being dependent, even if it only has been a few hours.
Afternoon rolls around and I start to get hungry. I pack up and leave the coffee shop, and I realize that I want to grab lunch with one of my close friends, Jess. How do I reach her? I can’t show up at her place unannounced, and besides, she might not even be there. This is where I allow myself some wiggle room with the technology use. I break out my cellphone and turn it on. I make plans with Jess, also notifying her of my lack-of-tech allowance, and plan to meet her soon. Then, I shut my phone down again. I feel ashamed for breaking the fast, like I could have tried harder. But slipping up made me think a little more about this day without technology and the type of mentality it takes.
By the end of the day, to be honest, I was exhausted. Having to constantly keep tabs on my actions really wore me down. I figure that most of us now are so far into our technological addictions that there’s no way out. Rehab won’t help, and a hypnotist probably won’t either. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think technological fasts will become a trend anytime in the near future.

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