Intimacy And The Internet

By Rachel Perlman

 

Some of my desk friends that kept me company throughout the day.

Some of my desk friends that kept me company throughout the day.

My relationship with technology is intimate. My alarm wakes me up in the morning, my phone is the last thing to see me off to bed, and my computer warms my stomach when I am under the weather. A day without technology sounds like a day without comfort.

Growing up in the 21st century, we are always on-call. It is not class time, but there are deadlines. We want to spend the day alone, but our friends can reach us anywhere by our cellphones. Of course this technology has its ups, but never having a moment to myself is not always worth it. There have been times where I go to class without my phone—a place I can’t even use my phone—and I still feel so empty without it. I worry all class about what phone-calls I have missed and what gossip has procured via Twitter. I get home however, and I do not have a single notification. No one had contacted me in the last three hours. My personal issue with technology is less about being able to be contacted, and more about being able to contact. If I forget my phone, what am I supposed to occupy myself with besides my thoughts? I want to be able to call or text whomever I want, whenever I want. I suppose, I am the source of many notifications on other people’s phones, namely my mother.

Up until my day without technology, I thought I liked spending time alone. I realize now, spending time on my phone or my computer, is not time spent alone. There are friends to connect with, celebrities to retweet, and messages to be sent. I may be alone in my room, but there are other people, all over the world, sharing ideas. Without my computer, phone, or television, I had to think more independently and creatively. The upside was there were no stress inducing e-mails from a professor on a weekend night and no terrible Netflix choice made out of boredom.

I spent my morning reading month-old clips my mother had sent me such as Metropolitan Diaries and Approval Matrices. I was keeping in the know of pop-culture, however delayed, with the help of print journalism. I hadn’t touched my phone, it was nearly dead and the charger was not within arms reach and whom was I kidding? I could have read for one of my seminars, but silly me did not look up the pages before the day began, and I was not about to read any unnecessary Foucault. Coming up with activities to do was far more difficult than I realized. I don’t knit, I don’t like yoga, and I don’t like going outside in the cold.

Jealousy ensued as my roommates fiddled away on their technological devices. One of my favorite sounds is keyboard clicks, (which says enough about my relationship with technology) so even hearing them type up essays was difficult. I thought a day without being bogged down by constant communication would mean spending time with more people in real life. Instead, my roommates were too busy using technology, and I had no way to contact anyone outside.

I spent my day in solace drinking tea and writing in my notebook. Perhaps if I spent long enough without my phone and computer, I would learn how to make more out of my time, but a mere day was not enough. I still felt just as unproductive; you can’t accomplish much when the whole world is online.

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