Turning off electronic devices, all technology for minutes, hours, or days, is this even possible? For one man, William Powers, it was possible. Powers (2010) states, “On weekends, the house is a kind of island, away from the madness, our disconnectopia” (p. 232). After reading a few chapters in Powers book, "Hamlet’s Blackberry," I was intrigued by the results of his technology ‘disconnectopia’ and decided to go on a media fast myself. I mean nothing bad can come from putting a cellphone down, right? As Powers (2010) puts it, “only then (putting down the cellphone) did the experience take on an unexpected richness and significance” (p. 209).
On day one, I decided to leave my phone in my dorm room while I ventured to class that morning. I will admit that I have a tendency to walk and text everywhere I go. I noticed myself reaching for my pocket to pull out my cellphone, only to remember that I was not carrying it. I began to look around campus, the trees, the freshly mowed grass, and faces I may be walking by every single day on my way to Psychology. I saw many people with blank stares, others smiles, and still others picking up my habits of immersing themselves in their cellphones. I took a deep breath to fill my lungs with the crisp morning air and a smile slowly spread across my face.
Somehow, not having a cellphone made me feel invincible I was renewed, born again in a sense. I was overwhelmed with happiness and as I feel the smile on my face grow larger I notice the other students around me looking in my direction. Little did I know, that my smile was wearing off on the people around me and as I locked eyes will a couple individuals their blank stares turned into delight and happiness. “Although a smart phone brings convenience and a sense of security, it takes away the possibility of true separateness” (Powers, 2010, p. 213). By giving up my phone, for a short afternoon, I was able to experience this separateness that Powers (2010) talked about. I was separated from the “global crowd” and connected with the crowd of individuals within my reach (Powers, 2010, p. 15).
The funny thing about the digital world, verses the literal world, is that the digital crowd will always be there. With the simple tap of a button I can reach my boyfriend, my mother, my teacher but this girl, walking beside me now, will not be there in one year, two weeks, three minutes. Without “a healthy balance between connected and disconnected, crowds and self, the outward life and the inward one” technology can be a drug (Powers, 2010, p. 210). An addiction that is nearly impossible to overcome an addiction that is changing our lives. The opportunity is now, I have the opportunity to make someone smile by simply reaching out and saying hello, how could I let that pass by? Again, Powers (2010) could not have said it any better, “in letting screens run my life, I discount the rest of my existence, effectively renouncing my own wholeness” (p. 210).
Powers, W. (2010). Hamlet’s Blackberry. (PDF document). Retrieved from My.UNL
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