Unplugged: A journey without wires

Brianne Ries
Assitant editor

The feeling of spring rushed over me as I walked briskly to my apartment. My ears ringing after helping with six fire drills, I anxiously swiped into Whitman Hall and calmly entered my room.
I plugged my cable into my TV and walked over to turn my computer on. I returned a few missed calls, and then I was ready for my moment of truth.
I opened iTunes, put on The Weepies “Can’t Go Back Now,” and as the lulling sound of static-free music filled my living room, I typed Facebook into my browser, officially reconnecting myself to the “real” world.
The last five days have been an experiment. Call it media fasting or a crazy adventure in a life before the techno-boom of our generation, but for five days I disconnected myself from modern technology as much as I could, avoiding the Internet and texting, among other things (see sidebar for the rules I followed).
Although I was “unplugged,” I still managed to survive with few mood swings and outbursts. I depended on things we take for granted now, such as radio, not iPods or satellite radio, and newspapers, not online news sources.
The true test to my survival was Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was spent catching up on homework, spending time with some friends and watching
movies. When day one was complete, I felt very accomplished, but as day two rolled around, I knew I was in for a test of mental strength and the challenge to separate myself from the instant gratification I am so accustomed to.
I survived, and Monday morning I nearly sprinted to Riley Student
Center to pick up a copy of the newspaper. The New York Times not only
preserved my sanity, it also opened my eyes to issues I wouldn’t have been aware of even if I was reading the news online.
I was surprised to see how much the controversy of digital use appeared in The Times. From April 13 to 15, the business section featured articles dealing with current issues from the further demise of journalism to the rise and popularity of Twitter. On April 13, headlines read “Papers Try to Get out of a Box,” “In Boston, Paper’s Peril Hits a Chord,” “News Without Newspapers,” “A stress test for magazines: Raising Prices without losing readers,” in addition to two briefs under a “Media Talk” section. On April 14, Twitter graced the front of the business section, which almost covered two complete pages of coveted column space. On April 15, the pattern continued: “Newspaper ad revenue could fall as much as 30%” and “Plans for a paid online media service.”
What was my point in listing all of these headlines? To highlight my argument that even when we try to escape the Internet, the connections follow us wherever we go.
Americans today are so dependent on their media, computers and cell phones to keep them connected. Whether they rely on them to stay connected with friends, family, schools or businesses, it is difficult to try and figure out what is happening in the world when you can’t
simply click a link.
In 2008, a report from CIAFactbook.com found that there were 223 million users of the Internet in the United States. Take a moment to consider some other statistics. There are more than 175 million Facebook users, more than 14 million Twitter users, and these numbers increase daily.
The American way is one of excess and gratification. Our nation has an excess of waste, weight and worry, and to make up for it we attempt to gratify our senses in the fastest, least expensive ways.
We can download books on our computers, thereby avoiding bookstores and libraries;
we can balance our bank accounts online; we can Skype
with friends and family around the world; we can do just about
anything via the Internet.
Take a moment to think about how much time you spend surfing the Internet between classes and in the evening or how much time you spend watching the television. I didn’t realize how much time I was actually wasting until I cut myself off from these distractions.
My first day back into the stream of endless information has been exciting, but I also didn’t binge like I thought I would.
On Thursday, I started my morning off just like any regular day before this experiment. I woke up to my iPod playing Jason Reeves, checked my e-mail and Facebook and got ready for the day. However, instead of going back to the computer and wasting an hour before my class, I picked up a copy of The New York Times, grabbed a latte from O’Riley’s and tried to finish a crossword puzzle, to no avail. But hey, there’s always tomorrow, and I plan on doing it all over again.
Rules of the Game

-No TV
-No iPod
-No Internet (except Linfield e-mail and
housing registration)
-No texting
-DVDs (OK)
-Class research (OK)
-Books (HECK YES)
-Newspapers (Vital)
-Radio (OK)

How I Stayed Entertained

“Sunshine Cleaning”
“The 39 Steps”
“Thank You for Smoking”

Books (read, but not finished):
The Bible
“The Godmother”
“Treasure Island”

Crossword puzzles
Reading The New York Times
Writing letters

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