The morning started in a hazy confusion. Instinctually I woke up and reached for my phone.
“No!” my roommate screamed at me across the room.
Tiffanie woke me up that morning, because I was undergoing a blackout. The next 24 hours would be media and technology free.
The first seconds of my day already displayed my innate attachment to my devices. Not only was my downward reach to my desk habitual, but the start to my day depended on an alarm app.
January 14th began with many challenges, as I delved into what seemed an unfamiliar universe: one in which I was unable to use media or technology. One obstacle occurred at the gym. To my dismay, without a phone I was forced to run to the sound of grumbling machines and human breathlessness. The gym suddenly felt like a robotic laboratory. Surrounded by human robots and machines, I was unable to run very fast. Listening to my own gasping made me realize how tired my body actually felt. Usually I had loud music to distract and encourage me to keep going.
Back at my dorm, my roommate informed me that my friends were trying to contact me to meet earlier and buy food before our boat excursion. I quickly rushed to Mara’s apartment, apologizing for the inconvenience of my blackout. On my walk over, my frustration grew. This blackout seemed selfish to my friends who needed to reach me.
In the car my friends shared the extra charger, making sure their batteries would make it through the night. Everyone wanted to share our experience through social media. I, on the other hand, was excited not to have my phone tonight. We rented a boat that permitted twelve guests, and I knew some of my friends would be bummed they weren’t invited. Sometimes obnoxious social media sharing only makes others feel excluded.
On the boat my friends immediatly grouped together for a mass photoshoot. However, realizing these photos weren’t for the memories, or to bring us closer, it suddenly appeared fake to me. My friends intentionally posed knowing that they could later upload these photos to Instagram and Facebook and prove to the world that they were “fun and social”.
Finally settling down, we sat in a circle on the deck to play games. As rules were being explained I noticed many of my friends noses deep into their phones not paying attention.
To my surprise, I grew irritated and proposed a rule for the night: no phones. At first my friends protested, but they quickly warmed up to the idea of hanging without the rest of the world interfering.
We laughed for hours. We shared funny and personal stories, bonding in a way that we never could have if our phones were out. Suddenly this blackout didn’t seem like such a terrible experience. Instead, it instigated an experience that allowed my friends and I to grow closer. A night formed into a memory that would be cherished and remembered, and not solely through our photos that would later be uploaded.