Day Without Tech

Alex Kentopp

It started out so well...

Everything was planned out. I was going to avoid doing my day without technology on Friday, because that would have went straight from school -> work without any between time, meaning easily avoid using technology. But that wouldn't have been good enough.

So Sunday was chosen, plans were made, I was going to work, then get off and go to the river with some friends.
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Work was fine, Saturday night requiring a lot of deliveries. I had a book to read by next Friday and write a book review so I was listening to it on audiobook while doing these deliveries.
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My car with it's little hat on, ready to go

I said in class I needed to use my phone for my job and it's true - I use it to find places I don't know and many times the people ordering require me to call them whenever I get to their place or leave the store.
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Mugging people to call for me seemed a little extreme.

Then, Brandon called.

Here was the plan for Sunday: I was prepared to use my phone only when necessary, avoiding any other use, then go out to hang with friends after I got off of work at 6 p.m., where we would go to dinner and then I would retire for the night.

What happened was Brandon called me around 5p.m. Saturday night, saying he wouldn't be able to hang out tomorrow as his work had scheduled him for then and he had read his schedule wrong.

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And how could you be mad at this face? (This was taken by me when we went kayaking on Price Lake)
This required a new plan. I have very few friends actually IN Boone anymore, as most people graduated two years ago now when we finished our bachelors. The friends I don't tend to have their numbers - I tend to facebook chat people as my primary form of text chat. That and my other good friend, Aaron, was staying at a friends place in the Bavarian apartments, but I had no idea which one, meaning I couldn't just show up to his place. And, it being very busy, I didn't get a chance to really get a text out to people until 1am - after most people would be asleep and if they responded I wouldn't see it until the morning, when I wouldn't be able to read it.

I decided to tough it out, do my own thing and take the day light. What that ended up meaning was being incredibly bored.


Work went fine. I worked the morning shift, staying busy most of the time through the church rush. Towards the tamer afternoon, it was difficult to stay off the phone to check messages and stuff, but I was able to do so.
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It was especially difficult as there's a fairly liberal phone environment there. Seeing everyone else use their phone and listen to music and such was a little frustrating.

(Side note; driving with no music/radio/whatever is a strange quiet. Cars are creaky)
Work was easy though. You have a task, you pay attention to it, you can keep yourself occupied. The problem came when I returned home and saw this staring at me.
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As I'm sure you can figure out, I'm a big gamer. That's what a lot of my friends are into, that's where I've met a lot of my friends, and how I keep in touch with them. I have friends in Texas, D.C., Raleigh, Charlotte, New York, and Florida. We all meet up on skype every day to chat, changing that distance between us to "somewhere over there".

But this was an assignment I had to do, so I'll do it. I broke out a book I wanted to read and sat down.
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Easy right? Just read until you go to bed. No big deal. Don't worry about that chapter quiz you have to do because that's online, or that book review you have to do because that's online as well. Your readings for other classes are online, so you can't do those either.

Don't you see? You can do whatever you want.
This all went great until I finished the book. I'm a quick reader - it took me about 2 hours to finish the last half of the book. That meant around 9 pm I'm sitting in my bed like this.
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Well, let's go through my list of things I enjoy doing.

1) Gaming? Can't do that the fact that computer's aren't available for use.

2) Movies? Nope, same reason.

3) Hanging out at other people's places? Can't do that for reasons stated above and because almost all of my other friends are gamers - even if I do go visit some of my other friends who I'm less close with, we wouldn't have anything to do. The large group I meet with is on facebook and so I have no way to contact them.

4) Art? No real supplies and I'm too tired to write.

5) Reading? Nothing else to read there bud. Unless you wanna start over on somethin`

6) Hiking/kayaking/biking? It's dark yo. Don't go out there by yourself in the dark.


So I gave up.

I went back to playing on my PC, hung out with my friends online, and everything was great.

That being said, there were some conclusions to draw.

Things I missed

I expected to miss music, or games, or something like that.

What I really missed was a sense of control.

I felt I was being forced into things I didn't want to do or had no way of doing, because all of my other options were unavailable to me. They say "time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time", well it seems the opposite is true as well.

Time you resent spending is wasted. I felt I was trapped - I couldn't do anything I wanted to do or needed to do, because everything was online. Sure, I could have had some more foresight and printed my readings or something, but that would have just delayed the inevitable for 30 minutes. Being someone who has fully embraced the digital revolution, this felt less a sabbatical and more an exile.

Nor did I feel I was in control of my social life.

I couldn't contact anyone without showing up to them in person, something that is frustrating when you don't know where they live or whether they're working at the time. These things are easily fixed when you can just send someone a text, but when you're sitting at home doing nothing and no way to contact them, it's quite frustrating.

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What many saw as a blue sky and freedom...
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...I saw as forbidding and bland.


To summarize my day without tech, I think I'd like to mention 3 main points.

The feeling of control is important

Being forced to do something you don't want to do makes people shut off, some more quickly than others. This can lead back into previous behaviors which they want to do. This is easily applicable to the classroom setting, where and when you hear a groan after announcing a new assignment for them to do. Giving them some limited input and control over what they're doing might help significantly.

Not everyone's situation is the same

Some people come from places where technology is seen as a villain, out to separate us and push us apart. Some come from a place where technology is seen as a connector to bring people together. Understanding both points without negative judgement is important for someone in authority, especially a teacher. This, of course, is spread to other things than just technology, such as ideologies, ways of doing things, etc.

Communication is both easier and harder than ever

The internet has made it easier than ever to contact people, to get in touch with and continue the relationships of those people you care about. With that being said, it creates relationships that couldn't exist without that technology, for good or ill. It creates a lifeline in some situations, such as when my friend Aaron moved to Tennessee for two years, and dependence in others, such as my own. Without being able to use the internet at all, I'd have incredibly few friends to show up on the doorstep of - not a problem when you can contact other people with a phone call, a bit of an issue when you have no way of reaching or keeping in contact with them.

What's it all mean?

Nothing, really. That's truly the beauty of human experience - there isn't really a right or wrong way to look at it. What feels great for one person and awful for someone else at the same time can happen, and that's okay. Each of us have what we value, what has helped us in the past and given us strength. For some, that's the wilderness, some that's their family and friends, or their art, or their job, or what have you. Being able to access or control that strength is something that everyone wishes for and only few can have - if an EMP went off today and all computers went down forever, I'd be pretty damn bored with my life.

That being said, things change, people change, and feelings change. I used to hate reading books and swore I never would - and here I am, ten years later, reading and writing my own. Perhaps in the future that dependence on technology will change as well. Who can say?

To end, I share with you two things

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My friends and me at Busch Gardens, everyone was able to show up except one (the one in TX), something that wouldn't have been possible to plan or do without technolgy
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Me in my natural habitat, at an ASU Local Area Network Party [i.e. everyone gets together in the same room and plays together] with great quotes from my friends such as "Notice how the Android does not smile, this is because his synthetic face can not simulate the complex muscle structure of a human face" and "this picture is priceless"

My response was "I was literally on the way to start smiling, but I guess that will just never appear on camera"