Sunday, November 11, 2007

Could You Spend a Day Unplugged?

A group of students at Minnesota's Carleton College performed an interesting experiment as part of a documentary they're making: They went without their computers for three weeks in an effort to see how dependent we've all become on the devices, and they challenged their classmates to do the same thing for a mere 24 hours. How did it work out?
Jason Hitchcock was suffering withdrawal pains Wednesday as he entered a room of Carleton College students who had pledged to give up the digital life for 24 hours.

That meant no e-mail. No on-demand TV shows, iTunes or streaming news. Break out the No. 2 pencils and college-ruled paper: No word processing, either.

A political science major, Hitchcock rated his difficulty with computer-free life at a maximum 10 and scribbled "Agh" next to his name on a sign-in sheet.

[...]"I'm finding that this was a stupid pledge to make," said Hitchcock, who ironically and accidentally sported a T-shirt for a website where he is a top user.
I'm pretty sure I'd have a difficult time fulfiling such a pledge. I'm totally sold on modern technology and the conveniences it brings, especially in the area of communication. Sure, some people say that the online thing acts as a substitute for actual in-person relationships, but for me, it has instead been an enhancement of those relationships, sometimes bringing them back from the near-dead. (I can't begin to count the number of old friends--especially those from the pre-Internet era, which for me was early 1997--with whom I've gotten back in touch because of my website, my MySpace or this blog.)

And I'd never get anything done for my job; if I couldn't email with parents back and forth, I'd be forced to rely on phone messages that I would rarely have time to listen to, much less answer (and if you take the cell phone out of the equation, I'd never get those phone calls in the first place). I'd never know when people were going to be late to combo practice at the college; my "office" is shared with many, many other professors, and the poor administrative assistant in there would spend her entire day taking phone messages for everyone. And if I had to depend on the home phone (which I might be getting rid of anyway before long), I'd never be able to schedule social events until I actually got home, which means I'd miss a lot of things. And let's not even get started on having to do papers on typewriters again or sending out snail mail (which for me is pretty much limited to a few bills and my Christmas cards).

I'm sure there are people who get over-involved with their various technological devices to the detriment of real-world relationships, but to someone like myself, it's been a huge help. My mind reels at the efficiency at which I would have gotten things done--not to mention the people with whom i would have kept connected--if all this stuff had been available when I was a kid.

Could you spend a day unplugged? And do you think that technology is, by and large, a help or a hindrance to real-world relationships?

Defense? What defense? In the wildest football game of the weekend, my alma mater, North Texas, put up 62 points in a game and still lost.

My favorite haadline of the week: 6 drunk elephants electrocute themselves.

And my second favorite: Woman in wedding dress drives into pond during pot bust.

1 comment:

Eric Grubbs said...

It wouldn't be possible for me to do my job and do my writing without being plugged in.