Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Professor Encourages his Class to go a Week Without Cellphones

Gasp! I don't think I could do it - much less my students.
Thoreau's Cellphone Experiment :
I took their smartphones, and the world continued to spin. I took their BlackBerries, and that did not lead to chaos. If I could have, I would have taken their Internet access, too, just to see the looks on their faces.
Their most common response? Fear. Initially, most of them worried that they would miss something: a family emergency, a party, a job offer, a friend who "really needed" them. Many were anxious they would be stuck somewhere on the road, having had an accident. Some surmised that they wouldn't be able to call someone if they were robbed or, worse, raped. In short, most of them thought little good could come of an experiment meant to liberate them from the incessant presence of other people.
The reluctance to give up their phones (many students didn't participate) derived from a sense that they would either be absent when something happened to someone they knew, or that they would be present, sans phone, when something terrible happened to themselves. "I'm not sure how people made it through the weekends without cellphones," one student wrote.
It did no good for me to explain that there was a time, not long ago, when none of us had cellphones, yet we still traveled hither and yon, we missed friends at parties, and our cars broke down—a lot more frequently than they do now. And when our cars broke down, we figured things out as we went along—you know, practiced a little self-reliance.
In a burst of honesty, a student wrote: "My expectation as well as fear about giving up my phone was that I would not have anyone to talk to. I had imagined myself just being all alone for the entire weekend. I was basically afraid of being alone." She experienced a "feeling of emptiness. I felt like I lost a friend."


Mark Viquesney said...

The only hard part about giving up a cell phone for me would be when I went to the store and being able to call home to make sure I got everything on the list I left at home.

Mike Qaissaunee said...

I agree Mark - usually my shopping list is either an e-mail or text message from my wife. And of course she always forgets to add something ...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...