Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Take a break from technology

By Molly Boushell

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Flickr/John Biehler

I had gone home this weekend anyway, but the arrival of Hurricane Sandy meant I was there a little longer than I had planned. We made the obligatory trip to the grocery store, stocked up on staples, bought more batteries, packed the DVR full and charged the electronics. All of the laundry was done, the lawn furniture packed away (along with the flag pole) and so we were prepared for the worst. And then we waited.

The rain came down, the wind blew and as most people in Massachusetts would agree, we waited out a storm whose impact in this state wasn’t as bad as expected. Looking at other states still dealing with the ramifications of high tides and flooding, we were very lucky.

But of all the things I did to prepare for the storm, none of them involved grabbing a good book.

It’s not until technology becomes unavailable, or at the very least threatened, that we realize just how dependent we are on it. I checked in with a friend in New York over Facebook chat, kept myself updated on everyone’s storm status using Twitter, repeatedly refreshed the UMass Amherst Facebook page and frequently checked my email. Even on my day off, far away from campus and temporarily trapped indoors, it was as if nothing had changed. Instead of watching the 24-hour news cycle on CNN, I was able to create my own.

All of the names, faces and places were familiar, but much like the 24-hour news cycle, it was all pretty much the same. Everyone was stuck just waiting and while the occasional relevant report reached me, it really wasn’t all that important. So why did I keep myself in the loop?

Increasingly, I find it easy to become strung out on technology and miss what is actually happening around me. In this case, I was so caught up in the events due to Hurricane Sandy that looking out of my window became an afterthought. Something is always happening somewhere, someone is always saying something and if you forget to take a step back it all feels important. Isolation feels like it has become extinct, taking with it things like reading and writing anything outside of class or not found on a news feed.

At some point this weekend, I realized this and took my eyes of a screen. I rummaged around in my backpack and pulled out the book that had been sitting there unread for weeks, frequently crushed under notebooks and textbooks that see much more use. While I had to fight the urge to check my phone or computer every 10 minutes, eventually my low-tech option triumphed.

It wasn’t until I had spent several hours reading that I realized how long it had been since I had checked anything, updated anything or Tweeted anything. Then I realized how long it had been since I had made it without technology for that many hours.

This weekend I realized that, for me, taking a step back has to be a conscious effort. If I don’t set aside time without technology, it will trample my plans to participate in less addicting activities. Taking a break from instant gratification isn’t easy, but it is necessary to get anything done. This past weekend’s hurricane helped me realize how far zero distractions can push one toward productivity and peace of mind.

Molly Boushell is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]


1 Comment

One Response to “Take a break from technology”

  1. Mrs. B.'s Class on January 2nd, 2013 11:13 am

    Hi, Molly!

    We are studying how to write a blog. The class enjoyed reading your article! They are all ready to become bloggers, too!


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