My Digital Cleanse

What Happened When I Went 24 Hours Without Technology

Photo Credit: Brenna Parker
Photo Credit: Brenna Parker

I opened my eyes to my roommate nudging me to wake up for our 8am class, definitley a different awakening than my normal panick-like state that the apocalyptic sounding alarm on my phone usually leaves me in. Nope, not today… Today I am going completely phone and technology free. I decided to choose a day that I would be busy so I could distract myself from the fact that I had nothing to distract myself with.

I sat down to do my makeup and hair, and instead of having my earbuds in playing music to get myself mentally prepared for the day, I sat in pure and utter silence. At that moment, minutes after I had waken up, I knew it was going to be a long and relatively quiet day.

Even though I knew the day was going to be especially challenging, I knew that I had something to look forward to because today is the day that I get to go home and see my family. After class, my roommate/best friend from home called the Uber so we could head to the airport. When I got there I couldn’t believe what I saw. There were advertisements, phones, computers, technology EVERYWHERE. Being there made me realize that not only are we dependent on technology, but we can’t really avoid it even if we want to or are trying to. We are constantly being bombarded with media and things that corportations want us to think and buy, and we choose to distract ourselves with our own technological devices like phones and computers. I started to think of people’s realities as frequencies or channels. There were only a very few amount of us that were “tuned in” to the present moment.

Representation of what I felt like alone on my own “frequency” (Photo Credits: Christian Kaysen)

I realized that we live on different frequencies or channels all of the time, and that’s the way we live as a society, that is what this age has brought us to. Instead of seeking out the people that we are with in the moment, we reach out and communicate with people that we aren’t with. It’s a weird realization but I knowingly participate in, and has become this sad reality that we’ve all created. I thought about an article that I read called “Why We Are Together but Feel Alone” by Zulcharnain. This article talks about how humanity is under the illusion that technology is bettering our relationships. Zulcharnain writes that “technology has become a roadblock in our ability to grow” meaning that it has become this lazy way to maintain relationships because actually having relationships is difficult and requires effort. He states that “Technology is putting us in a place where we are not ‘alone enough’ for quiet contemplation, not ‘alone enough’ to learn about ourselves, yet it is providing us with the illusion of being connected, of feeling the presence of others in our lives”. I think that this “illusion of being connected” is extremely harmful to our relationships skills as a society and creates a superficial community.

My picture from a different plane ride (considering I couldn’t use my phone) Photo Credits: Alyssa Atencio

When I got on the plane, the people were no different. No surprise. In a place like an airport, everyone is trying to mind their own business and get from one place to the other. I was beginning to feel alone even though I was surrounded by people. I was by myself on the frequency that everyone was a part of but chose to ignore. Then I saw her. A beautiful lively baby girl about the age of one, with small tight brown curls and light blue eyes, playing with her toy on her mother’s lap while she sleeps. She looked up at me and giggled. I flashed her a genuine smile in return for her simple acts had taught me something. The words “technologically innocent” flooded my mind. Did I just make that up? It made sense to me. This happy baby girl was unaffected by technology, and was able to sit all by herself and have a great time learning about, and enjoying the world around her. She did not even know what she was missing out on, much like the generations before us that didn’t have the technology that we do. Then it dawned on me that someday soon she would be corrupted by the dependence oon technology, and won’t be able to sit and comfortable bliss on an airplane.

When the plane arrived in Long Beach California, I reached for my phone to call my Mom to see where she was. Nope not there. I told my friend to call my own Mom feeling like a loser that didn’t have their phone.

When I got home I took a nap for a few hours out of boredom and to wait for my siblings to get home. I felt like I had so much time that I didn’t know what to do with. I couldn’t watch TV, listen to music, or go on my computer. What else was there to do? The only answer I knew was to spend time with people. So, napping was the next best solution while I wait for “my people” to arrive.

A picture of my siblings and I

When my family got home and I explained to them my digital detox, they agreed to do the same for the rest of the day. I helped prepare dinner with my mom and we sat down as a family for the first time in a long time, but this time without the distraction from whatever football game on playing in the background, or people texting at the table. We talked about our day and laughed like we always do when we’re all together. I realized that we could have so many more moments like this as a family if we let ourselves, if we disciplined courselves. That night instead of watching a movie or a TV show, we played a game of UNO as a family like we used to whenever the electricity went out growing up. It was competitive, and it was intense, but overall it was such a bonding experience that never would have happened if we hadn’t committed to putting technology away for the evening.

What a sunset from my roof looks like (photo credits: Alyssa Atencio)

After the night, I sat on my roof and reflected on my experience and what I learned that day. I breathed in the cool air and was greatful that I was outside on an Orange County night as opposed to a San Fransisco one. I came to 3 conclusions that I want to discuss:

  1. ) We have become a society dependent on technology.
  2. ) Even if you want to avoid technology and mass media, sometimes it is impossible to.
  3. ) Even though technology is helpful in many ways, there are many ways in which it is harmful as well.

Explained

  1. ) I came to this connclusion during my experience at the airport. Seeing how every person was on another We are a part of what many call the “technology age” and this couldn’t be more true. We use technology in our jobs, to communicate with one another, to receive news, to make decisions, to learn… the list goes on and on, but the point is that we not only use technology as a tool in our daily lives, but have begun to depend on it to function. I like to think of myself as someone that doesn’t ALWAYS need technology to operate because I can be happy without it, but I will be the first one to admit that I had trouble going 24 hours without the use of it. If I had trouble with this, I can only imagine how difficult this would be for others.
  2. ) Being at the airport also taught me how unavoidable technology can be. At almost any public place, people are being bombarded with mass media, music and advertisements, leaving no room for our own thoughts.
  3. ) Though we can unarguably benefit from technology in countless ways, there are ways that it is inhibiting us from having certain experiences with one another. In my experience, there are so many experiences that never would have happened if our noses were in our phones, or if the TV was “sucking our brains” as my Mom likes to say. We were able to truly live in the moment with one another and enjoy one another’s physical company. Treasured memories are not made by interactions through text messages or phone calls, they are made by taking the time to have real life experiences with the people around us.
Artistic representation of me “finding the light” or making the realization of the effects of technology on the community. (Photo/Edit Credits: Alyssa Atencio)