I have recently come to the point where I am tired of being a slave to so-called “conveniences” like cellular phones and the Internet. Nothing gets done around the house because I’m too busy checking away messages on AOL Instant Messenger. Moments of relaxation are interrupted with the obnoxious ring of my cell phone.
Furthermore, little work is accomplished on the computer when I’m checking my e-mail every five minutes. I’d like to plug my phone charger into the rear end of whoever said these tools were a “convenience.” Convenience my foot – they’ve ruined my life. It is time we ditch this digital diversion and return to communicating with one another face-to-face.
One day over winter break, I was driving around in my fuel-efficient Volkswagon Beetle, embarking on a long day of errands. Shortly, my cell phone battery died.
I groaned with frustration at my carelessness to not charge it the previous night and wondered how my friends and family would get in touch with me. I went about my business for the first hour with an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach – it was the unnatural feeling of being cut off from the world in the new millennium.
But then something unexpected happened. The squirmy feeling went away and I was enjoying myself. It was refreshing not being able to be bothered or interrupted. This situation isn’t considered normal for the ’00s, but it was everyday life in the ’80s and early-to-mid-90s.
I have ever since been toying with the notion of ridding these “conveniences” from my life. It is my theory that we’d all live much happier lives if we didn’t rest on the crutch of communication technology.
Of course, there are some complications and it has become clear to me that the world isn’t going to let me cut myself off.
Turning off AIM was simple enough and MuScLeMan777 went into retirement. That is, until my friends started harassing me for not being online. The notion of me not changing my away message and reporting my every move perturbed them. AIM is an addiction. For some people, the addiction lies with being unable to stop or pull away from a conversation.
With me, I was compelled to check away messages – an activity that would hold me at the computer for hours doing nothing else. ‘Oh my, James is doing homework at the architecture studio, Michelle is taking a trip to the Sev, Chris has a Springsteen lyric posted, and… OH, James is going to fourth meal at J & H!’
There are two kinds of e-mailers: those that check it 50 times a day, and those who never do. I fall into the primer category. I would love to not be chained to my e-mail, but being the opinion editor of The Temple News, it is part of my job to always be available to my writers. If I were to distance myself from my e-mail, I wouldn’t be able to answer my writers’ questions as quickly or edit drafts of articles with swift turn-around.
However, this obsessive-compulsive e-mail checker will leave his inbox on the screen and hit the “refresh” button every 30 seconds. The amount of work that doesn’t get done due to this activity is astounding.
And finally, there’s the almighty mobile phone. I am not attached to the phone; the phone is attached to me. I would gladly give it up; however, society won’t let me turn it off. Beside the fact that I’d be ignoring one of my job duties by making myself unavailable to my writers, I would lose touch with my out-of-state friends and my mom would accuse me of no longer wanting to talk to her.
There are many college students who can’t go anywhere before they write a new away message. Professionals from all walks of life are slaves to their cell phones and are convinced that there is no “off” button. Some jobs take place completely over e-mail.
These are signs that our advanced technology in the Age of Communication has impeded our free lifestyle. We would all be much happier and more relaxed if we abandoned these tools and resorted to up-close and personal communication.
My cell phone was off, I was signed off of AIM and I hadn’t checked my e-mail in 12 hours. Much like a quitting smoker, I broke out into a cold sweat and began biting my nails. I decided to do something spontaneous and go for a walk. But wait – let me change my away message first.
Jesse North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.