Brightness. I had, for the first time in years, opened my eyes in the morning because of a sunray hitting my face. Yes, I had slept with the blinds open on purpose, to try and let nature be a part of this twenty-four hour period of no technology. Looking at my roommate’s alarm clock I was appalled that it was 12:30 pm. It must have taken Thoreau a while to stop sleeping in when he first took refuge in his cabin. Then again, Thoreau didn’t have a phone to keep on loud during the night in case of “emergency” text messages. I had slept well.
I walked towards my bathroom and reached for my electric toothbrush out of habit. Quickly correcting myself I opened the cupboard and used my regular spare. I didn’t know how long this initiative would last but I wanted to give it my most valiant effort. As I sat back down in my room I began making a list of possible daytime activities. I had finished my homework and I had a complete Sunday of free time. I decided to spend the day in solitude, to really try to look inward. The moment I did so I felt my stomach rumble.
No delivery, that would require a laptop, I thought to myself. I scrounged through the kitchen and saw enough supplies to make basil eggs and toast. I had seen my mom make it at least a hundred times. As I stood over the stove watching the yellow froth begin to form into a sold clump I thought about the extent to which technology lives amongst us humans- almost forming a race of its own.
The microwave is touch-screen, the stove is electric, the toaster is electric, my toothbrush is electric, I cannot know about anything that happened this morning because my roommate took the post with her, and the only music I can play is whatever is running on a loop in my head at the moment. After a couple minutes of soul searching I looked down onto the pan to see my overdone eggs jiggling like rubber and a carton completely empty, leaving no chance at redemption.
I decided that leaving my room would be the best idea for me to occupy myself. After walking the streets from 23rd and 3rd avenue all the way to Saint Marks I felt my hunger rise again. Two rubbery eggs and a piece of toast was clearly not enough. I walked into my favorite sushi restaurant, Jebon, and ordered a plethora of dishes. I sat at a table for two that was awkwardly modified to be a table for one and tried my best to ignore my loneliness. This would be the perfect time to text my friends, check Facebook, post on Instagram, or scroll through Tumblr. Instead, I stared at my blank phone, which I kept for emergencies, and then read my menu cover to cover, twice, until the food arrived.
After a satisfying meal in silence the waiter presented me with an iPhone. The phone was attached to a small credit card swiping device and a stylis for my signature. Even the check was electronic- it texted me a copy of my receipt! Laughing at my ultimate realization that technology has become inescapable, I signed the touch screen and made my way to Washington Square Park.
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking aimlessly around the village and soaking in as much visual and auditory stimuli as I could. As I scanned my surroundings I thought about how much I must have missed while looking at my dimly lit phone. Content that my experience turned out to be somewhat rewarding, I walked all the way back to the Flatiron district and crawled into my bed, reading and eating leftover Indian food all evening until I fell asleep.
The next morning on my way to class I tried to consciously keep my phone in my pocket and my eyes on the road ahead of me. This simple exercise is now part of my daily routine and keeps me grateful for my life in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, New York City. Living one day unplugged proved to be quite a challenge. However, with my continued practice I have seen the world unfold and open in several interesting and exciting ways. Look forward! What you are about to see is way more interesting than your Instagram.