By: Mackenzie Cash
I don’t like going through my day without a plan. When my class-assigned Day Without Technology was approaching, I knew I wouldn’t be able to last long without finding something to do to occupy my time. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a short attention span and that I believe it to be partially a result of the digital age that we live in. I knew I wasn’t going to survive a technology-less day if left to my own devices. With this in mind, I prepared for my media fast by doing the only thing possible – turning to the Internet.
I emailed one of my closest friends, whom I met on the Internet at the beginning of the semester, and we made plans to visit the Cloisters. With social plans and detailed subway directions written down, plus a quick text to my mom telling her I was going off the grid, I settled down for my last sleep before disappearing from the digital world.
Unfortunately,my plan wasn’t as well-thought out as I had anticipated. I seemed to have forgotten that I relied on my cell phone to wake me up every morning so I arose much later than I should have. But I was not to be deterred! Just a few hours behind schedule, I managed to be highly productive and read Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. What better way to celebrate a day where you’re not tied down by your technological devices than to read about nihilism and nothing-ness? After I had managed to wrap by brain around Beckett’s absurdist play, I began my trek to the museum on 190th street.
As typical of most life experiences, when you think you have it figured out, life slaps you in the face with a revelation. I wasn’t looking forward to my 53 minute blue-line subway ride that I would have to make without any form of entertainment – phone, iPod, nothing. But as I sat mourning the absence of my music, I noticed a quiet man hesitantly enter the car and pull out his guitar. Had I been plugged into my own world and completely detached from society as I am prone to do, I would have missed this man as he began to softly sing a Spanish ballad. While everyone else in the car sat on their phones or jammed away to their pre-recorded music, I was able to witness this quiet and humble man create art. He never put down a collection tin or walked around asking for money. As soon as he finished his song and the train came to a stop, he casually exited the car and moved on to another location.
With eyes freshly opened by the humble guitarist and an appreciation for life and mankind, I made my way to the Cloisters. Without technology, there’s nothing to get in the way of fully appreciating the art and stories behind the medieval art. If a friend isn’t texting you and no Facebook notifications loom in the back of your mind, it’s easy to get lost sitting in the recreation of a medieval chapel or pondering the significance behind the hunt depicted on the unicorn tapestries. Maybe it’s because I already had an unexplainable fascination with the Middle Ages that I felt such a deep understanding and appreciation of the art. Maybe my technology fast put me one step closer to times long gone. Or maybe it doesn’t really matter. What’s really important is taking the moment to step away from the smartphone and iPod and fully observe and engage in the world around you. You never truly know what you’re missing until you take the technological blinders off.