I Didn’t Die, My Phone Did

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What I imagine if I were to throw my IPad out the window.

by Stephanie Leontiev

Setting my phone on silent, shutting down my Macbook, storing away my IPad, is a routine I follow before I go to bed. Except this time, I wasn’t going to sleep; I was waking up to a day without technology. I was waking up to Darkness.

I thought about all of the possible ways I could make this doomed Day Without Technology easier for me. Unplugging my phone from it’s charger would cause the screen to fade to pitch black along with my motivational screen savor “Live for Today” saying to disappear into oblivion. The only times my phone shuts off is when it dreadfully loses battery, and the pit in my stomach increases as the red percentage number decreases. Total Darkness. At least this was a conscious decision, as I knew the usual ping of an incoming email—that I swear sparks extra nerve signals in my brain to send doses of delightful anxiety—wouldn’t be tempting me.

While taking these precautions, I grew more and more uneasy. Although it was a Saturday, hence the weekend and not a “work” (and school) day, I still felt that someone, somewhere, would need me to respond to him or her immediately. Am I that popular? No, not really. I get more texts from my mom than I do from my friends. But I’ve grown up in a generation where answering your emails the moment you read them, which should be the moment they are received, is an undeniable truth. Besides this in-real-time communication being an expected one, I feel good when I respond to emails. Not because it incites people pleasing or a feeling of induced productivity, but because I genuinely want to respond to the email and receive a response the same way I would have a conversation with someone in person in Real Life: an immediate exchange.

I remembered an anonymous article I read years ago in The Economist that echoed the likes of what Guatamaditya Sridhara recently wrote last month in “Blackberry: The best tool for desperate (a.k.a. all) lawyers?” taken from a client’s email: “We also require legal professionals aiding us to be able to respond to emails and correspondence ASAP considering the nature of work involved.” The previous anonymous article also added something along the lines of if you god-forbid are driving through a tunnel and lose connection while a deal is being made, you best wish you were dead because you will be fired.

But in regards to the established lawyers and investment bankers, who am I to talk? I’m just a sophomore in college to whom most people say, “oh, relax, you have so much time!” But technology has tremendously blurred the lines of what a mere intern can do because it empowers one to use the same tools and resources of the Professionals. Suddenly, time doesn’t matter too much because we can control a part of it. It goes by faster; we grow up faster.

I, studying journalism and politics, am incessantly scrolling through Politico’s Playbook, my Twitter feed, my homepage that has been set to CNN since 9th grade of high school, among other sites in order to stay informed. The desire to literally know everything that is going on in this increasingly globalizing world is addictive, time-consuming, and satisfying. Receiving news alerts on my phone makes me feel like I am a part of the groundbreaking decision that was made because I know now as if I was actually there. I want to know. Immediately.

Taking this power away from me is ceasing my existence.

Thank goodness for the New York Times (shout out to the Washington Post for when I’m back home). Call me a grandpa in this modernized world, but I freaking love to read the newspaper every day with my cup of coffee at a Starbucks that is conveniently placed right on my city block. This seemingly simple task is the reason I am “okay” with early mornings because I have a stack of everything-that-is-happening right in my hands to eagerly look forward to. No need for technology here (the printing press is in a different context).

Take this away from me and I’m on the next shuttle to Mars—at least there I can look at the whole world.

So, before embarking on my metaphorical journey into the cave for a solid 24 hour hibernation free of my holy devices (for Pete’s sake I couldn’t even tell what time it was because I am not at the point in my life yet where I flaunt a sophisticated watch), I bid adieu to a couple of my friends who I could expect to text me and spent an hour on the phone with my mom trying to explain the experiment, which led to trying to talk in advance of the next day for the supposed to-be lost conversations. Still, I would later turn on my phone to five texts of “STEPHANIE, ARE YOU ALIVE” from my loving mother.

I spent my day reading lots, busily running errands on my To-Do list, and only listening to the sound of my voice inside my head because I did not have my iTunes available (does everyone talk to themselves so much or am I going nuts).

Needless to say, I love my technology and do not want to live without it or the people, places, and knowledge it connects me with…unless it’s summer vacation when time stands still, and I’m lying on a beach somewhere in Paradise. Then we can t— Just kidding, I will be “out of reach, please take a message”.

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