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Tammuz, Tech Turn-Off: The Experience

Day 1: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The first day of the tech turn-off progressed fairly well. I had little trouble avoiding the use of any technology.
Then again, the technology that surrounds us in a sort of cradle was hard to climb out of. On the subway, a woman aimlessly flicks up and down her iTunes playlist on her iPhone with her iHeadphones crammed up her ear canal. I look over and watch, then realize I should be averting my eyes. Practically everything these days starts with the prefix I- : iPod, iTV, iMac, iPad, et cetera. This speaks to the increasing simplicity of technology. All you have to do is click that little red box at the top of your Google homepage to view your status updates.
By taking a step back, you can start to see the big monopolizers in the industry. Practically everything has to do with Google; Google+, Google Drive, Google Search, Google Scholar, Google Lab, Google Images, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Life! And that’s just the top of the list. These companies are making money by distracting us, day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. Our life has become dictated by these preoccupations.

Day 2: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The tech turn-off is very frustrating. I can’t seem to live without Google Drive, or any other word processor! It took a lot of self-motivation, but hey, I’m here now!
Technology is simple not only within itself, but also by making our own lives easier. You need a fact? Search it up. We demand more and more information, data humans previously couldn’t even fathom learning.
Some still say that the internet isn’t enough. These are the true “knowledge junkies.” (In fact, I’m one of them myself.) We work hard trying to find seemingly useless tidbits of trivia, then publish our findings in websites or magazines, such as FlavorPill or mental_floss. I myself was introduced into this community when I decided to research the life of John Stump, a composer who has only one website about him.

Even so, such groups require technology to communicate with one another. A few weeks ago, mental_floss invited me to a party with the editors, (a great honor, considering that all others invited were adults,) via email. There’s no other way to absolutely guarantee the message gets through, and no other way to guarantee a brief and quick response. We all rely on technology.

Day 3: Thursday, May 31, 2012

Technology, it turns out, is quite like an addictive substance. It makes you happy when you use it, but you suffer some withdrawal when you don’t. Recently, I had to go on the computer to do some schoolwork, and boy, I felt so good afterwards. Still, these similarities are frightening. What is its negative side?

Today, during off-campus lunch, I noticed that there are 5 TV screens at Lenny’s. These screens are bright and draw your attention away from what you’re eating. Suddenly, my friends around me start to turn on their electronic devices. “Just one game,” one reasoned. That one game took him the time it took me to finish my sandwich, about 15 minutes. He too ate his sandwich, but our brains are not meant for multitasking beyond that, which, if you think about it, is quite little. It’s better to focus on one thing at a time, but digital media tricks us into thinking otherwise.

Day 4: Friday, June 1, 2012

The tech turn-off went by in a breeze today, with no problems whatsoever. However, I did notice other people using technology. Two teenagers, communicating with each other via texting, even though they were only three feet apart. People with their eyes closed, ears plugged with earbuds, waiting in the subway station. People having conversations, using their phones as constant reference point. I was once part of this faction, but not any more. Now, with the turn-off I find myself playing with my hamster more often. I simply have more time. Technology speeds things up, but also offers distractions to slow things down. My efficiency has improved, and I’m very proud of ti. I also find that I read faster. I finished Slaughterhouse-5, by Kurt Vonnegut, in a very short period of time, and started Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami, almost immediately afterwards. My handwriting has become better and speedier too. All because of a week without technology.

Day 5 and 6: Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3, 2012

On Saturday night, I stayed up late, but not watching a movie. Instead, I went to Brooklyn Bridge Park and looked at the night sky through various telescopes. Some of the world’s leading astrophysicists, including Mario Livio, the director of the Hubble Telescope, were there to talk about the universe. Such an experience requires no technology, just a good eye. I even got to see the rings of Saturn!

There are other things one can do like this, technology-free fun. You don’t have to be like the guy I saw at Whole Foods with two phones and an iPad. No, there;s a world full of possibilities out there, none of which require any digital media. Book clubs are another example of a fun, tech-free activity. Or how about a show? Even the radio, which consumes little energy, can provide us with insight and humor to brighten our day, without using a screen. Today’s the last day of the turn-off, but I still will try to embrace these moments every day.

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One comment on “Tammuz, Tech Turn-Off: The Experience

  1. we just spent a week in the wonderful island of Corsica, climbing up and down mountains, with almost no web or other digital connection… it was hard – but great.
    Uncle Rafi and Aunt Varda

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