Bryan Essay 2

Taylor Bryan
12/14/09

Unable to Unplug

Nestled on the shore of the Nassawadox Creek off of the Chesapeake Bay, my backyard provides a haven of natural beauty, a place in which one can seemingly unplug from the conveniences and confines of technology. Utilizing this setting as a place to unwind and believing for years that I could do so without even beginning to miss the use of technology in the management of my own personal knowledge, nothing prepared me for the rude awakening of my dependence on technology as the twenty-four hour period in which I misplaced my cell phone. Sitting around a blazing fire with close friends, I became painfully aware of the near addiction I possess in using my cell phone for a number of tasks, some of which cannot be replaced by any other more primitive form of technology.

I awoke late that morning to my mother’s shrieks from downstairs for me to get up. Briefly confused at why she would wake me instead of my alarm, I realized that I did not have my phone, a piece of technology I have become entirely dependent on. Having used the alarm on my phone for years, it holds an essential role in my navigation of the world from the moment I begin my day. Without the device in my hands, I realized that I could not peruse the possible texts, calls, or messages I received while sleeping, rendering me effectively cut off from my social world. Because I found myself at home on vacation without any real responsibility this notion of being cut off seemed conquerable, however; as the day progressed I realized just how necessary my phone has become to the way I live my life and control my own knowledge.

As it was Thanksgiving day, a meal requiring widespread collaboration on the part of many different family members was in order. After getting dressed and finding myself repeatedly pressing my left pocket to check for my missing cell phone, my mother called me downstairs and asked me to call various family members to check on the progress of their dishes, their proximity to home if still traveling, and their general plans for the day before the big meal. I immediately discovered that contacting these people on my own was impossible, I simply did not have the contact information stored in any place other than my cell phone. As those in question were family members or close family friends, I was able to get the required information from my mother, who, ironically, told me to get her phone to access the various numbers. I quickly seized her device and gathered the facts I needed to make the calls, realizing that as the information in my phone is not backed up, I required my cell phone to continue my relationships with each and every person in my contact list. I made the calls she asked and after briefly searching in vain for my own device, began to embark on my agenda for the day.

Having previously planned a fishing trip with my friend before the big meal, I set out to launch our boat, quickly realizing that without his phone number I could not contact him in order to gain the assistance I needed to complete my task. Without my cell phone, I climbed into the car and made the several mile journey to his house to retrieve him. We readied the boat and drove it to the ramp for launch. After launching and beginning the trip into the bay and around to my dock on the next creek south, a thick fog encompassed us, complete with ominous clouds. Eager to check the forecast for any possible danger, I reached for my left pocket only to realize once again my dependence on the missing cell phone. Luckily, my friend had his device so I quickly dialed my father and learned that we were safe to continue the trip. Had I been alone or without my friend’s phone, I would have possessed no information of the weathers trend and been rendered completely incapable of utilizing my knowledge of the weather and bay to make a decision.

As we reached our coveted fishing grounds I felt certain that my personal lack of connection to the world would not hinder such an ancient practice only, to find my further ineptitude to function without my cell phone. After hooking a large flounder, we began to celebrate the catch before quickly realizing our lack of knowledge on the actual size requirement for the fish. Again reaching for my cell phone to call the local fish and game hotline for regulations, my pocket was still empty. I quickly seized my friend’s phone in attempts to call the number only to realize he did not have it and that I would have to take extra steps to attain the information required. I again dialed my father to retrieve the number, realized we did not have a pen, and reverted to my usual practice of recording the digits in my phone; once again my left pocket was empty. After committing the number to memory I dialed, only to find that, after numerous extra steps to collect the information, the fish was an inch short of regulation. Frustrated, I returned the fish and thought for sure the trip would continue without requiring additional technology. As dusk rolled in, we began to enter the cove behind my home in order to secure the vessel for the evening, quickly realizing that the tide was dangerously low and the boat might not make it in. Again I reached for my pocket, quickly seized my friend’s phone and dialed my father. He broke from his tasks assisting my mother, checked the tide report online and informed me that we should be ok. Finally, we reached the dock but only after I become further aware of my dependence on such a small device even in such a peaceful, almost primitive setting.

With the meal still several hours away, I took my friend home and headed into town to pick up a few items my mother forgot to retrieve for dinner. Very specific in her demands, my mother wrote a list which I only glanced at before leaving. Thinking the list was in my pocket, I strolled into the grocery store beyond confident that my lack of a means to communicate would not interfere. As I grasped a store basket I reached for the list, only to find I did not have it. After checking my car and finding nothing, I realized once again how helpless I am without a phone. Approaching the customer service desk, I requested the phone and dialed home to confirm the required purchases. At this point I realized that I had to find my phone in order to function at any semblance of the rate at which I usually accomplish tasks.

Just before the meal, my mother charged me with the task of transporting food to the host location where I swiftly I learned that I forgot the mashed potatoes. Climbing back into the car, I reached for the missing phone to inquire about the food. Lacking a means of contacting home, I drove the miles back only to find that my parents, and the potatoes, had already embarked for the meal. Turning around, I cursed my ineptitude at accomplishing minor tasks without my phone. Dinner went on without incident, granting me the first hour of the day in which I did not want for my device. When we returned to the house later that evening for an outdoor fire, however; my troubles continued.

As I walked to the shed to retrieve old newspaper, kindling, and wood for the fire, I once again reached for my phone this time as a source of light. Again with an empty pocket, I had to walk back into the house, retrieve a flashlight, and go about beginning the fire with a four pound flashlight in hand. I started the fire and begun to socialize, painfully aware of my dependence on such a small piece of technology. As the Thanksgiving football games neared conclusion, I wanted to check on the scores and again reached for my empty pocket. Cursing my situation, I saw that the entire group was aware of my inadequacy without a devide and each and every person reached for a phone, checked the scores and almost simultaneously reported back to me. While sitting around the fire people played popular music, contacted other nearby friends with invitations, contacted distant friends to wish them happy holidays, and ended debates by researching trivial facts all from cell phones. While watching my friends navigate their lives from their hand held devices, I felt much like a caveman, incapable of engaging my modern world or living successfully in it without my cell phone.

Although I found my phone, in an all too obvious place, the following day, the experience of not having it against my will for an entire day provided me with a profound realization of my dependence on such a seemingly simple and frequently taken for granted piece of technology. Not only was I cut off from the majority of my friends without their contact information, I could not accomplish a number of simple tasks required on a daily basis. As knowledge is formed by piecing together information with one’s own personal experience, ideas, beliefs, etc, I found that I could not formulate any new knowledge without relying on someone else’s device. Additionally, without a phone to research information or the capability to contact someone and retrieve their knowledge, I found myself crippled in my daily activities. On a daily basis people find ways to utilize and manage their own knowledge. While I did make it through the day, I discovered that in my own life, I have become absolutely addicted to my cell phone in accomplishing even the most seemingly unrelated tasks. I consider myself an avid outdoorsman and completely believed that although I use technology frequently in my academic and social pursuits, I do not need it all the time. Losing my phone for the day required me to take extra steps to retrieve information, consult other’s knowledge, and find ways around habits I was previously unaware of. Quite simply, without technology I am incapable of living in the manner I have grown accustomed to, accomplishing tasks efficiently, or feeling completely safe and secure. I cannot unplug no matter how far from technology I think I can go.

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