By: Sam Kim
Tick, tock, I could hear the proverbial clock ticking in my head. Time is of the essence and Time was something I did not have much of. Like Cinderella scrambling to leave the ball before midnight, I frantically sent out all the necessary emails, Facebook messages, and texts as if it was my last day of communication. 11:57, with no alarm to set and no Google Calendar appointments to set, I spent the three minutes staring at clock to strike 12.
When the time finally came, I did not turn into a pauper, nor did my all my electronics turn into mice, everything seemed relatively the same. I was not sure what I was expecting; I guess something along the lines of what doomsday enthusiasts had in mind for Y2K. I went to bed with my head buzzing with scenarios of things that could go wrong with all my digital connections severed I had a hard time imaging how I was going to manage.
Monday morning, I shuffled out of the bed at the sound of my roommates getting to leave–quite different than the usual agonizing “morning melody” blaring from my phone. Everything seemed the same, I brushed my teeth, took a shower, ate a light breakfast of oatmeal and banana slices. But when it was time for me to leave the dorm, I was at a loss. The phone I used to keep track of my daily tasks and schedules was powered off. The day was unplanned, and unwritten, just waiting for me to fill in the blanks–the blanks which were to be filled without the absence of trouble.
The first issue was time. I didn’t have it. Not necessarily that I could physically carry time, but with no conception of keeping track of it, except for the sun in the sky, I was muddled as to how to spend it. It was like I had cash in a market, without any notion of the value marked on the bills.
On my way to meet my girlfriend for lunch, I began to notice things around me. Unencumbered my Google news and Facebook feeds, my eyes had a newly found freedom it had not before. Instead of my iTunes playing in the background, I had the music of New York City resounding everywhere I went. I not only noticed the urban landscape I was in, but also the people. They were just like who I was yesterday. Their eyes fixated on their smart phone screens, they walked with a brisk pace, occasionally switching back to their home page to check the time. Immersed in my own world of observations and reflections, I almost forgot I had to go meet my girlfriend. Quickly anxiety swelled when I began to think of the repercussion that awaited me if I was late.
When I arrived I had asked a lady sitting on a bench what time it was. She seemed a little perplexed at the question, but she told me the time and quickly went on her business. I was actually on time, but my girlfriend was nowhere to be found. An hour had passed, and I became more and more nervous. Usually she would text me if she was delayed, the mystery of what was unknown was killing me. In such an age where information is consumed instantaneously, I pondered as to how I lived even five or six years ago when I did not have my smart phone. In the end she just missed her bus and nothing of the apocalyptic events that I conjured had occurred.
I spent the rest of my day alone in the confines of the library. Uninterrupted by the outside world, I spent hours upon hours absorbed by my homework and finished a lot earlier than I would have. I took the subway back home, and once again I felt at a loss.
Without the aid of the usual technological tools, I had gotten through the day just fine, perhaps even better. But I still felt unease, a void. Then I remembered a Pascal quote: “All of human unhappiness comes from one single thing: not knowing how to remain at rest in a room.” I felt that I needed technology that I relied on every single day and the unhappiness stemmed from me not being able to access it. I sat down in front of my desk, as I did the night before. Instead of looking at my phone I stared at my friends watch I borrowed and once again waited for the clock to strike 12. When it finally turned twelve, I turned on my phone and saw that I had bunch of messages and I was backed up on all my emails. My calendar wasn’t updated and neither were any of my profiles. I scrolled to the “settings” menu and pressed “sync” for all my accounts to be updated. Perhaps I expected something to happen, like I would be magically swept back into the technological world. But the void remained.