Going cold turkey from technology proves too difficult for one student

Photo illustration by Glenn Judah & Ashley Sadeghy

By Danielle Marsh

I had been awake for only 30 minutes and already had failed.

It was Jan. 17 and my day started off at 8:30 a.m. with an assignment for The Gargoyle to go 24 hours without using modern digital technology. As I found out, it proved to be much more challenging than I thought, as even eating breakfast these days requires technology.

In order to get into the dining hall I had my ID card scanned. Strike one. Strike two came as I tried to get back to my dorm room — both access to the elevator and stairs inside Ponce required an ID card.

In a world where the hum of a computer, the faint sound of music coming from an mp3 player and even the familiar ring tone of a cell phone are everywhere, trying to make it even an hour without technology is a challenge. And as some studies have shown (see story right), college students especially are becoming hooked on their digital gadgets and links to the Web.

Back in my room I would normally be checking my E-mail, MySpace, Facebook and listening to music on a laptop while getting ready for classes. Today those luxuries were gone, but I was determined not to let those petty habits hinder my day.

My first class went surprisingly well. No technology used. Intro to Mass Communication, though, was another bump in the road that I could not dodge. In order to grasp the material presented, I had no choice but to watch a movie, transmitted by a computer. In light of my most recent failure, and in dire need of encouragement, I asked my professor, Dr. Nadia Ramoutar, if she thought it was possible for a person to live in today’s world without our modern comforts.

She explained that it was “possible, but not always desirable.” You’re telling me.

Ramoutar also brought to light the fact that there are countries all over the world that have never and might never experience the technology that we have today. But as I found, Americans have become all too dependent on technology — even me.

After that class, I thought the rest of the day was going to be a breeze until I remembered my grandmother received her test results of her cancer scan. For the past year my family had watched her battle cancer and deteriorate from the chemotherapy, and we were about to find out if she had won that battle.

Since I wasn’t allowed to use my cell phone, I was forced to use the payphone in the breezeway. I inserted my quarters — a static-y connection was made. When I looked around, I could see students staring at me like they were thinking, “Why isn’t she using a cell phone?”There was an invisible barrier separating us. It was just me and my quarters tethered to the wall.

When all of the simple talk was out of the way, I asked my mother what the results of the test were. Just as she started to explain, a voice came on the phone saying that I needed to insert another 25 cents to stay connected. I told my mom to hold on while I searched for a quarter, but I had no luck in finding one and the call was disconnected.

Unfortunately, I was out of quarters and I was unable to find out that day if my grandmother had been cured or not.

The rest of the day was a blur. As I slowly retreated within myself to find something to do, the only thing I could think of was to talk. Slowly, I came to the realization that we as a culture have lost our personal touch with others.

Because of E-mail and cell phones, it is always easier to E-mail friends and let them know what’s going on, or call them on a cell phone to say hello. Even though these new devices make our lives easier, they aren’t always the best when it comes to conveying a hug, a touch or even a smile.

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