TechnoChallenge by Liz Smith

A day without technology. Sure, I’ve experienced this before while on trips, maybe even got used to limited technology use while living in Prague the previous semester, but I still felt an overwhelming anxiety sweep over me when I heard those words. In my daily New York life, my laptop was among my closest friends, and my phone never more than an arm’s length away. I knew I could do it, but I also knew I didn’t want to.

Choosing the day had to be strategic: not when I had internship or school where mycomputer and email are necessary, not when I had work and walk home by myself late at night. The Saturday after my birthday party: it was perfect. I had just seen all my friends that night and I knew I would be sleeping in. If anyone called, I could get back to them Sunday. No important emails are usually sent on Saturday, so I wouldn’t miss too much there.

I woke up that morning surprisingly early, around 8 o’clock. With my roommates each in their rooms, my best friend from home crashing on the couch, and my boyfriend beside me, I didn’t have too many people to reach out to. While brunch was on the tentative agenda for this lazy Saturday, I wandered into my roommate’s bedroom after I heard her stirring. She and I actually share the same birthday, so her opinion on this weekend’s plans was almost as important as mine.

She definitely wanted to grab some brunch and seemed ravenous, but had no particular desire as to where to go. I told her to check the Internet for suggestions since I clearly couldn’t, and walked into the bathroom to shower. This was going to be a great day, I thought, as responsibilities seemed to be melting away. While a restaurant was decided on and reservations were made, I slowly prepared for the day without my iTunes, 8tracks, Hulu, Netflix, texting, Instagram, Twitter, or any parts of my normal routine.

When my roommates, our boyfriends and my best friend headed into the rainy morning, I didn’t even bother to bring my iPhone with me. What do I need that for? I pondered as I got used to this challenge. No one at the table really bothered to use their phones as we ate and played “The Movie Game,” frantically naming actors and films, trying to throw the next competitor for a loop while still keeping the game going.

After brunch, we were all ready to head back to bed, and made the trek home. After my visitor headed up to Ithaca to prepare for a test she had back at Cornell, I yelled for her to let me know she got back safely – though I wouldn’t be able to see it or respond until tomorrow. My boyfriend and I chatted quietly, tired but not quite ready for sleep. We decided to take a small walk around the neighborhood now that the rain started to clear. We sat in Tompkins Square Park and weaved our way through the East Village, observing architecture and cute shops or restaurants we have somehow missed. After he snapped a photo of us, we decided we were finally ready for some hot chocolate and a nap.Image

When we woke up, it was dangerously close to dinner time and we were nowhere near ready for our long-awaited dinner at Ninja Restaurant. Even though it says “perfect for 6-year-old birthday parties” on the website, I knew my roommate and I would love it. Dining there without a phone wasn’t hard as there was plenty else to focus on, from elaborate dishes to magic tricks and surprise attacks from the servers.

After eating appetizers, a main course, and a dessert, I didn’t think I could move (and after seeing the bill I didn’t really want to do much else!), so we went back across Manhattan to my apartment and settled into comfortable attire. Instead of the usual routine of “Arrested Development” or “The Office” episodes before bed, I read aloud “Open City” by Teju Cole, assigned by my Journalism as Literature: Storied New York professor for my boyfriend and I to wind down.

I drifted to sleep a little more stressed and a lot more full than usual. I had enjoyed the freedom from technology but could only think of all the homework, emails, calls and texts that were waiting for me once I tuned back in to the “real world.” As attached as we have become to technology and all of its silly additions, it truly is our connection to not only family and friends, but responsibilities and news.

The next morning, out of habit (and maybe some excitement), I frantically grabbed my iPhone. Turns out, I hadn’t missed that much at all.

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