Most of us would consider a day without technology unimaginable. I used to. Last year, the South China Morning Post reported that Hong Kong millennials spend the equivlanet of one day every week on their phones. I don’t doubt that statistic at all.
I didn’t love the idea of spending 24 hours without technology, but I also thought I’d be fine. I didn’t think I’d be counting down the last minutes until I got my phone and laptop back.
The rules for the experiment were as follows:
- I couldn’t physically use technology
- Other people couldn’t use technology on my behalf
I was also very specific about the type of technology I couldn’t use: no laptops or smartphones, but cameras were okay. To ensure I didn’t cheat, I made sure there was always someone around me. At Young Post, that came in the form of my fellow cadet, Nayeka, and at home, my parents. I shut my laptop at exactly 3pm, and checked my phone at exactly 3pm the next day.
I’ll be completely honest and say my day without technology was excruciatingly difficult. Ironically, before I even started the experiment, I had to use technology to contact my parents so they wouldn’t worry if I didn’t answer their calls.
I was already questioning taking on this challenge within the first 10 minutes. The boredom had hit me.
My first real problem was at 4.27pm. While arguing with someone, I wanted to back my statements up with facts, but was unable to do so without my phone or laptop. Not being able to whip out my phone and Google things was a major inconvenience.
I also ran into lots of problems throughout the day, like missing instructions or messages that had been sent by Skype or Whatsapp, and had to rely on other cadets to tell me.
By 5.07pm I had learned that I don’t like depending on people. I was also so bored.
I had been dreading the hour-long bus ride without music, but actually, it was fine. I spent the bus ride actually talking to people. I only noticed I didn’t have my phone when I couldn’t check the time.
I only cheated once during the 24 hours, out of what I think was pure necessity. To catch my bus, I checked the time on my phone so I could adjust my walking pace accordingly.
Once I got home I was fine, although I was still bored. To pass time, I found myself doing make-up. But even that was a bit annoying without technology, as I couldn’t take and share photos.
On the upside, with nothing to do, I went to bed at 10.30pm and got nine hours of sleep! But I again had to depend on someone else to wake me up in the morning as no phone meant no alarm, which I didn’t like. I also got to the bus stop 20 minutes early, as I didn’t cheat and check the time. But without my phone, the wait was painfully slow.
Then came the real difficulties. I somehow had to sit tight at work, and only use pen and paper. I found myself literally counting the minutes till 3pm. Of course the first thing I did was check Snapchat to keep my streaks alive. After that, I let my friends know I was alive.
Technology is definitely addictive. By the end of the day, I was going crazy. But I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing that I missed it so much.
Yes, without technology I talked to people more, and maybe eliminating entertainment may have limited procrastination, but the experience wasn’t fun. To get stuff done, I had to depend on others. Whether it was waking up or looking up facts, not having technology took away some of my independence.
The main takeaway from the experience was a newfound respect for anyone who has to live without technology. It was definitely enlightening; but the one thing I’m certain of is that I don’t ever want to do it again.