By Nicole Gartside
I could actually feel a wave of anxiety as the white, swirling circle on the screen before me indicated that my phone was powering down. I had no laptop, no iPad, and now, now cell phone. As we crossed the border from the U.S. into Canada for a weekend ski trip (and into outrageous roaming charges and no Wi-Fi), I was officially without technology.
To say that I’m addicted to technology would be an overstatement. But I’ll be the first to admit that my day-to-day routine wouldn’t function without it. Between school, my internship at Seventeen magazine, and my position of president of my sorority, I read, answer, and sort upwards of one hundred emails weekly. I have swarms of people who call, text, or Facebook message me at all hours of the day, expecting an answer within the hour. Then of course there’s the messaging to friends and family, weekly calls home to my Mom or morning texts to my Dad on his way to work. But for the weekend, that would all be gone.
It was a struggle at first to be without my phone and laptop. When conversations died down, my first reaction was to reach for my phone to check Facebook or my email, only to see the blank screen and remember I couldn’t do that here. I began to feel anxious and worried. What if someone needed to talk to me? What if something was wrong and I didn’t know about it? Usually before dinner, I would hunker down to respond to all the emails I had accumulated that day, but my laptop was a thousand miles away in New York City. My routine was totally thrown off, which, for a creature of habit like myself, was incredibly unsettling. It wasn’t until then that I realized I didn’t even own a watch: I had always checked my phone for the time. So not only did I have no idea what was happening in the world, I didn’t even know what time it was. Great. Even television was off limits because all of the channels were in French anyways. I could see the tension in everyone’s faces as all 14 of the college-aged women I lived with were going through the same withdrawals as I was.
But to my surprise, the anxiety didn’t last long. We all sat around the kitchen table, making pasta and telling stories. Without the distractions of technology, we actually had deep conversations. I got a chance to talk to girls I had never really gotten to know and learn things about them I couldn’t have known by checking their Facebook page. By the time we all sat around to eat, it occurred to me that I didn’t even know where my phone was, and I liked it. The fear in knowing that no one would be able to get ahold of me became appreciation. I finally had time to myself where the only person I was responsible for was myself. Sure, we had to be a little more creative in entertaining ourselves, but we played some intense games of Taboo, made some of the best dinner I’ve ever made, and talked for hours because we had no other responsibilities to attend to other than each other’s fascination.
Of course, when our bus crossed back into the U.S., phones buzzed and dinged and everyone fell back into their old habits right away, including me. I liked not having to answer questions and deal with issues but, of course, that couldn’t last forever. Responsibility called when my cell phone was back in service. But every once in a while, when I can feel the tension of a long day settling in, I just let my phone battery die and sit in the quiet for a while, remembering my cabin in Canada with nothing but friends and a good time.