Unplug yourself from your gadgets

My job as an opinion writer is to write about my opinions. Unfortunately, this week, I don’t have any outstanding or inflammatory remarks to make about choking on ice cubes or wiping whipped cream off your upper lip. Someone told me I should write about the Oscars. Too bad I didn’t watch them, nor did I see half the movies that were nominated. So I think I’ll write about something else, something far more mundane. Something that applies to each of us as we go about our day: I’m talking about technology.

Yes, that’s right, technology. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m often listening to my MP3 player while walking around campus, or even rudely chattering away on my cell phone. My personal favorite use of the cell phone (our little secret, eh?) is to bust it out when I see someone I want to avoid, and pretend like I’m listening to a really important message. I wonder how many other people use this tactic. And then of course, there are the computers.

Yes, computers. We all have them. Like a plague in a box, sitting on our desks, drawing us in for hours of wasted time, checking Facebook, MySpace or other crap like that. How many times a day do you check your e-mail? I do whenever I’m bored. And how many hours a week do you spend surfing online? It’s almost frightening to think what figure you’d get if you added up all the time you spend putzing around the internet. What other things could you do in that time? Watch a movie? Go for a walk? Hang out with your friends, real people, not people you meet online? Maybe you could-and this might be too much, I know-even read a book!

Now, I know that computers make our lives easier. Unfortunately, they also make us lazier. They make us more inclined to lose our focus while studying or working, with a whole world of entertainment at our fingertips. And while we’re on the subject, let me address cell phones. As if it weren’t enough of a blessing that anyone can bother us at anytime when we have them turned on, they also make us wonderfully nonchalant about keeping time commitments (“Oh no, I’m running late, I’ll just give him a call”).

I think it’s a little strange that the average person walks around with so much technological crap on their person-cell phone, iPod, laptop-and so little on their mind. Do people ever think anymore? Do people ever read anymore? Do people ever have a quiet moment to themselves anymore? We are constantly bombarded with stimuli in this information age. In the words of Pink Floyd: “Hello.is they’re anybody in there?” I have a suggestion. A dare, if you will. A challenge: do you think you can make through an entire day without using a computer, a cell phone, an iPod, a TV, etc. etc. etc?

Walk to your class and look at the color of the trees. Notice that the sky is blue. The clouds are puffy and white. And if it’s just too much to do without, tomorrow you can go back to having your life with a constant soundtrack, being on call 24/7, and getting back to that wonderful relationship with your television or computer.

At the very least, it would be interesting to see how you manage for that one day. And who knows, you might even feel a bit more relaxed! A bit more connected to the real world. Maybe you’ll even throw your television out the window-that would be cool.

If, however, you feel so spiritually enlightened as to throw out your computer, stereo, or iPod, then feel free to give it to me instead. Thanks.

Charles Hanna is a sophomore majoring in architecture. He may be contacted at c.hanna1@umiami.edu.