Sensory Overload: Surviving the City without Technology

By Kelsey Garcia 

As I bid my phone adieu, put my laptop to bed, and ignored my television’s very existence, I decided that I would head to the  most technologically overwhelming spot in the city, and perhaps the universe: Times Square. 

Now, this is not the plan I originally had in mind. I woke up to no alarm clock, a really wonderful, yet disorientating, feeling. I then realize that I do not own a functioning watch. It seems as though all of my watches exist purely for aesthetics, something that did not please me in this trying time. Seriously, I don’t think I ever really found out what time it was throughout this experience. Bored and unburdened by plans, I decided to try my hand at cooking. 

 In the process of creating a recipe without merely Google-searching one, I found that I am actually quite food-savvy. I imagined flavors and ingredients that might be tasty, and cooked up some spicy quinoa with chicken sausage, avocado, and chopped red pepper. I felt so confident and so badly wanted to call my parents to share the good news. Who would I boast about my lunch to? If I can’t Instagram my meal, did I really cook it? 

I ate my meal in peace. There was no television or text message in sight looking to distract me from my newfound talent. Unfortunately, once the meal was over, I was painfully bored. So, to avoid eating more food out of boredom, I decided to step outside with no plans. I find that living in New York, it’s rare to walk around aimlessly without a destination, estimated time of arrival, and phone calls urging you to hurry up. It was freeing. 

I hopped on the train and though, why not take a trip down to the most terrifying place in New York City. I’ve feigned such a hatred for the tasteless, tourist attraction that is Times Square, however, perhaps it was a good opportunity to face my fear. 

I stepped out of the train and immediately heard the city buzzing. The seizure-inducing lights and loud music was overwhelming to someone attempting to live off the grid, even just for a day. All around me people were photographing every square inch of the area. Young girls were lined up to snap a picture with a human sweating inside a bootleg Hello Kitty costume. Fathers who’d lost their family within the giant Forever21 were lined up, wasting time on their smart-phones. Teenagers were viciously texting their friends who they can’t seem to locate in the sprawling, urban maze. 

“What have I done,” I thought to myself, and probably would have Tweeted had I brought my phone. I sat on the central benches and overlooked the organized chaos. Without technology, I felt like the ultimate outcast. I imagined a nicer time, when New York City was enjoyed on a genuine level in real-time. So much of the city’s romance has been stripped and frozen by our need to record every moment instead of live every moment. 

This realization was enough to have me panicking. I no longer wished to be visually bombarded  and I made my return back downtown. Once home, I had ample time to catch up on the readings I had been assigned for the week. My night commenced much unlike my day had been: calm and relaxing. 

I’m not sure if I will ever have resist the lure of technology again, but what I do know is that it was a profound experience rife with revelations about my own personal relationship with the city. 

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