By: Komal Patel
My friends were all pretty surprised by how unfazed I was at the idea of spending 24 hours without technology. Although I was only giving up use of my phone, tablet, and laptop for one day, they were still pretty shocked by the idea, and they were even more shocked by my calm demeanor regarding the whole thing. I suppose that’s just our generation–giving up electronics is equivalent to giving up sustenance.
I have to admit, I wasn’t as undaunted by my technology fast as I let on. Yes, I would have loved to watch a TV episode or tweet. What staved off utter boredom was homework mostly, old-school style reading of none other than the ancient Illiad and the Odyssey. In preparation for not using electronics, I had pushed my weekend reading until that day.
However, as much as I enjoy my Greek classics and Homeric epics, I got a little fed up with the likes of Achilles, Odysseus, and Zeus (though I hope you spare me, Olympian gods). I wouldn’t have minded reading something for fun, but I only had my Kindle, and that counts as an electronic. So reading was shelved for the day; this was a little surprising for me, though, because as a kid, I could spend days and days reading Harry Potter or Nancy Drew. My only conclusion–the availability of more activities through technology dulled or even replaced my incessant desire to read.
Pilates was a welcome distraction from the near-boredom I faced after reading. In fact, I’ve never been so welcoming of the excruciating pain that ab-building from pilates entails! Usually I can’t stop looking at the clock during the class, but that day, I purposefully kept my mind off of it and tried to coax myself into enjoying the burn. It’s interesting how much a technology fast can change your perspective on things, and yet, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal from just thinking about it.
After pilates class, I went home and tried once more to read. I got through a couple more chapters before feeling exhausted again. A nap sounded incredibly inviting even though I had been on a strict no-napping-during-the-day policy since second semester of freshman year. To distract myself from sleeping, I pulled out the only non-technological game I had–a puzzle that my best friend Clay had given to me for Christmas. Clay had given me explicit instructions that we were to complete the puzzle together, but I felt like desperate times called for desperate actions. That makes it sound way more intense than it was, but I was really hopelessly bored and on the brink of napping. So I completed the puzzle anyways without him, convincing myself that he wouldn’t be terribly mad. I still haven’t told him, a good week and a half or so later, because deep down I know he’ll be at least moderately annoyed. In my defense, I had gone and knocked on his door to see if he was home and wanted to work on it, but he wasn’t there, and I had had no way of contacting him.
I had finished the puzzle within an hour or two; my friend Riley had agreed the day before to go to the gym with me and get hot chocolate, but he hadn’t stopped by as agreed yet, so I ran upstairs for a bit to see my friends on the 12th floor who are usually always at home. Sure enough, I was right–they were home and playing reverse go fish. On any other day, I would have judged them to no end for holding their cards face up to their foreheads (the complete rules for this game are a tad complicated, so I will not be explaining them, but I’m sure you can find it online if you’re that interested). As I had nothing better to do, however, I joined in and played for a little while with them before retreating to my room to wait for Riley.
By the time Riley was available to go to the gym, it was 10:15 pm, and the gym was closing in fifteen minutes. Instead, we opted to take an easy jog up to Madison Square Park and back. While Riley mapped out a run on his computer (I hope that doesn’t constitute as cheating my fast since technically I didn’t use the computer, I just planned to benefit from it), his suitemate’s friend Walter looked on. Walter, a student from West Point who was visiting, asked if he could tag along. At first I wasn’t sure–I’m a terrible runner, and I haven’t ran outdoors since the summer. If it was just Riley and me, at least we would stick together. But I couldn’t say no to Walter, so I agreed. What a mistake that was.
As soon as we stepped outside I realized my idiocy for wanting to run outside, especially without my gloves. It was freezing! I would have known the temperature if I had checked my phone, I remember thinking. We had barely taken steps out of the building before Walter and Riley shot off along Broadway, leaving me in the dust. I lagged behind them for the most part, alternating between trying to catch my breath and keep my poor soul warm; the boys were a block or two away from 32nd Street when Walter turned back to tell me that he and Riley were running a block or two over and that I should wait for them at 32nd and Broadway. I nodded assent and they jetted off.
I ended up crossing the street more because I was fueled by momentum than by any true desire to work my heart as much as possible. I was basically dying on the opposite side of 32nd Street, so I bent over to catch my breath even though I really should have been keeping an eye out for the boys. After the cramp in my side had turned from a knife-like pain to a dull pain, I tried to warm my hands and pace to keep warm. I waited and waited and waited but didn’t see the boys. After what felt like half an hour, I began to walk home, freezing and annoyed.
By the time I walked into Carlyle, my residence hall, my hands were absolutely throbbing of cold. They began stinging in the heat of the building, and I cursed cruel fate the whole while I waited for the elevator. When it finally came, there was a kid with his laundry. He looked at me concernedly while I shook my hands vigorously in the hopes of keeping the stinging at bay and asked if he needed me to call someone. I tried to smile (but it turned out to be more of a grimace) and assured him that I expected to find the people I needed.
As soon as I walked into Riley’s room, my suspicions were confirmed. Riley was eating pretzel sticks while Walter was looking up music on his computer–not exactly the frantic, ready-to-go search party that I had hoped to find. They assured me that they had waited for ten minutes before leaving. Whether or not that was actually true, I have no idea, but I guess I’ll have to take their word for it.
In the end, after I had sufficiently warmed up, it didn’t seem as traumatizing as it had felt like. It would have been nice if I had had my phone, though, just saying, or maybe a really intelligent carrier pigeon could have sufficed. So after my day, I do think I need to become more comfortable with the idea of not having technology. I kind of wish I had gone out to the park for a picnic or a bike ride. However, some technology, like cell phones, are vital in this generation for communication. When everyone has their own busy life, it is altogether too often that effective communication will fail without a phone or something like it. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of being able to live without technology sounds quite appealing, but at the same time, we have to come to terms with the world we live in–a world where a day without technology isn’t easy by any means.