What is this Madness??

Just a few days ago I stumbled upon an interesting article from the NY Times, titled “Hurricane Sandy Reveals a Life Unplugged.” I thought to myself, wow this would be perfect for a blog post! I remember discussing, either the first or second week of class, what it would be like if all of the sudden all of our technology just shut down. An important question that came up was: would society be able to function without the technology that is so embedded in our daily lives?

This article offered a perfect glimpse of what life without technology would really be like. As we all know, the destruction of the hurricane completely wiped out a lot of the East Coast, taking all the power and energy with it. This meant that TVs, cell phones, the Internet, video games, etc. were all rendered useless. Thus, people were given a rare glimpse of what life would be like in a world where technology isn’t the vein of our existence. In the article, one of the paragraphs describes a family where the three children are infatuated with the mother’s iPad. The mom depicts the blackout experience as a form of rehab. She says, “It’s like coming off drugs. There’s a 48-hour withdrawal until they are not asking about the TV every other minute.” Some people just simply did not know what to do with themselves, they struggled to find meaningful things to do with all their free time. Conversely, some people found great uses for their time by catching up with family, exploring new hobbies/talents, etc.  

While many families relished at the time they had to spend with each other technology-free, they also found it difficult at times. The author writes, “among the parents who spoke with pride about newfound family time when their children were forced offline, there were honest admissions about the joy-kill of too much bonding.” This raised any interesting point for me. Do you think that people are so used to immersing themselves in technology that when it comes down to one-on-one personal time with actual people we get frustrated/annoyed/bored more easily?

Overall, I am fascinated by the idea of how our society would function without technology. In particular, how relationships would change, for the better or for the worst, without it always readily accessible. Do you guys think families should devote one or two days of the week where no technology is allowed? Would this help children (and adults alike) to learn that it is still possible to exist without the Internet or without a cell phone if need be. What are your thoughts on the article? 

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10 responses to “What is this Madness??

  1. This post reminds me of a popular media story from August of a restaurant that offered a discount to customers who left their cellphone at the door.

    I also know a few people who set aside one day a week as a “date night,” where they both refrain from using any form of technology: no Facebook, no text-messages, no laptops.

    I think technology is negatively affecting our ability to communicate face-to-face. On a recent lunchbreak I was in the break room with 2 of my co-workers (which is rare to have 3 people eating at the same time). One of us watched YouTube videos, the other browsed the web, and the third read an ebook on a kindle. Virtually no interaction took place.

    Let’s face it, maintaining conversations with people is difficult, sometimes confrontational, and often awkward. It’s simply easier to avoid these difficulties by maintaining shallow relationships. Technology just gives us an easy escape.

    • In today’s class period, I was thinking about how “knowledge in the head” vs. “knowledge in the world” relates to being overly reliant or dependent upon technology.

      Take calculators for example. It seems when one has access to a calculator, one is more likely to use it to perform calculations, even easy ones which would be much more quickly done in the head. Having access to a calculator changes the way one needs to learn and retain knowledge.

      I would argue that being able to correctly answer a problem is not equivalent to understanding it. Relying on the calculator might tend then to inhibit higher levels of conceptualization or comprehension.

  2. Although the East Coast was without power for some time, there was still a lot of people on their electronic devices because there was a lot of articles online about how people were posting tweets, Facebook updates, etc. about what was happening during the storm. I read an article about how they were literally able to map the storm as people were posting about it with comments and pictures. There are articles about since there was no power, people were using their wireless devices to get updates about the storm. There was an article about how people posted facetious information about the storm on twitter and a lot of people were not happy about it (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/hurricane-sandy-twitter-shames-spreader-of-falsehoods/2012/10/30/e94584be-22b9-11e2-ac85-e669876c6a24_blog.html). I think it is a good article however and for some who were without their electronic devices I’m sure it was an eye opener. I don’t think I could live without my phone and laptop for very long, but it is good that they got power back.

  3. Last year, for my second semester of Human Event, we were given the project to not use any sort of electronics for 48 hours. Even this short term experience was difficult to complete, driving home the importance and utter saturation of technology in our daily lives. We have become reliant on technology, as it surrounds us in a high-tech society. However, I do not feel all is lost. People are adaptable creatures and it is heartening to see how those affected by the hurricane are making do. My only worry is that with future technologies becoming more and more stable, later generations may become completely reliant on technology for all aspects of life.

  4. I definitely think it’s a good idea for families to take time out of the day or week and spend it without technology and use it for just hanging out with each other and talking. When a person is constantly plugged in it’s hard to establish any line of real communication with them and if everyone in the family is plugged in at the same time then things can start to fall apart. I know in particular my little brother is on Minecraft practically the entire day, but if he’s on there for too long my mom will make him get off and go read a book, go outside, etc. The absence of technology is hard to adjust to initially but once you are acclimated to it, it becomes refreshing in a sense.

  5. It’s definitely an interesting and realistic scenario that we would be cut off from our technology. Before I went to the Philippines last summer I posted on a site that I manage that I wouldn’t be aviailable too often online. But when I actually got there, I found I was able to be online almost nearly as often as I was here in the United States. It’s pretty amazing how connected a lot of the world is. I mean, I suppose I could find something to do with my time if I didn’t have access to technology for awhile. Board games come to mind, those are always fun.

    While it can be difficult for us to take time off of technology, imagine the children and high schoolers of today. These kids have had high-tech gadgets their entire lives; I remember struggling to get online on a 56k dial up connection and then having it shut down when my parents picked up the phone. Or when I had to take five minutes out of my day to rewind a VHS tape, or take ten minutes trying to find exactly where I left off on my Pokemon TV show because my brother watched it without me. But these kids don’t have those problems; it’s extremely convenient and all too easy to use. I’ve heard of three year old kids poking advertisements in a magazine because they think it will operate like their iPad. My younger cousins in the Philippines were addicted to their parent’s tablets or phones, that they were almost always on it (no worries though, they could take time out of playing to spend time with us).

    Although at the same time, technology (through video games) did give us a bonding experience. So there’s the other side of the coin I suppose. While it closes the door on some relationship building it can help out in others.

  6. You bring up this point about how people are so used to technology that they get “frustrated/annoyed/bored” more easily, and I think that’s a great idea to touch on. All I can think about it are these Tweets I’m seeing from my friends (yeah, me too) about how Thanksgiving is coming up, but don’t worry, I’ll be on my phone the whole the whole time because SO MUCH FAMILY, right??

    Interpersonal communication is perhaps the most vital skill to have, and we should totally take advantage of all the different (technological) ways we can communicate with one another. But nowadays, it’s as if we don’t reeeeally communicate. Here me out: At home, we don’t communicate with our family, we sit around on our own laptops, phones, iPads, or what have you, connecting with friends via the internet. At work, we don’t communicate with our coworkers, we rely on e-mail, message boards, and instant messaging between cubicles. At school, we don’t communicate with our peers or our professors, we blog, Tweet, Facebook, text, and shop during class.

    Tell me you can imagine a world where you can’t Facebook in a lecture hall of 300+ students. That’s right, either can I. And quite frankly, I think there would be a huge uproar if there were some sort of implementation that prohibited technology for 48-hours. When you’re in a position where you have lost almost everything from a tragic storm, technology — I would think — would be the least of your worries. But if you’re an everyday daughter, worker, student, etc. technology is pretty high on your list of necessities and I don’t think we’d be able to cope without it.

  7. So i really liked this article, i especially like the idea of having to do without technology for a time. I agree that we as a society have lost or at least have a diminished capacity for interpersonal communication. I was at my brothers house this holiday weekend doing the family thing, and it was a couple of hours before i even saw my niece and nephew. When i asked them where they had been, they were upstairs playing on the computer and/or watching tv.I personally think something is wrong when the television is raising our children. I guess my point is that there needs to be a balance so those interpersonal skill are not lost.

    Also, Lauren mentioned above about how we as students would not be able to cope without technology. To an extent i agree, technology is a great resource to be able to do research, homework, etc.However, I started off this semester without a laptop i could take to class everyday, and honestly i think i was more productive in class. With nothing else to do in class i actually took notes, paid more attention to lecture, and participated more in discussions. Now, with my laptop I’m distracted by facebook, or espn in class, my attention is divided and i think my overall productivity in class is reduced. Personally i’m at the point where I try and leave my laptop in my bag during class as much as possible so i won’t be distracted, i honoestly feel that with the exception of a technology class having your laptops and phones in class should not be allowed.

  8. Having gone through the Boy Scout program up until my senior year of high school I have witnessed such effects of technology withdrawal firsthand. For me, it was not too hard of a transition, but there is also the fact that I know how to keep my mind occupied. In the end though, all human existence seems to come down to simply running from one mental dependency to another. I’ve seen people become just as addicted to hiking or wood carving as many are to technology. In reality it’s all about escaping from the rabble that one is forced to be around (simply due to their current location) and being able to escape into another world. So, I’d say that overall the idea of a forced family time will generally fail unless it is implemented from birth due to a preexisting mentality that most likely has been created over years of time and will not be overwritten anytime soon. There’s a saying, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” and the idea of a forced time like this is similar to pushing the horse’s snout in the water yelling “Drink!”

  9. I think that is a good question to ask. I believe that families should give up a time without technology, even just one. I know that it will bring individuals closer. This just reminds me of the film Blind Side, where Big Mike sat at the dining room table alone on Thanksgiving and where Sandra Bullock’s character turned off the TV, that moment actually brought them closer. http://youtu.be/agidYAqGOl8
    I think this chance gives both children and parents a reality check that we can survive without technology once in our lives. I think this article gives a well explanation of families without technology and spending time with each other.

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