Could you do a day without technology, Joanne Mallon asked.
‘Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo’, I shrieked, while clutching my iPhone close to my chest.
I was surprised last week to hear that the first iPad was revealed to the public just three years ago. Is it only three years? It feels like an eternity. I bought my first iPhone when we moved to Geneva, five years ago, and I now cannot imagine how I lived without it.
Technology now develops at such an amazing rate. Before we have really got used to one gadget or app, another one comes along to replace it. My first mobile phone was an Alcatel One Touch Easy, about the size and weight of a brick. I never worked out if pulling out that little antennae thing actually helped but it did draw attention to the fact that one was using a MOBILE PHONE. I recall my father in law being very impressed when my mother replied to a text that I had sent – even though I had moved the phone out to the hall, it still knew where it was to receive a reply.
Then I bought a Sony Erricson, my first camera phone – but get this. You had to attach the little camera to the bottom of the phone! The rest of the time, it lived in a little pouch in my bag. So when someone did something funny, you had to scramble in your handbag for the little camera, get it out of the pouch, fix it onto the bottom of the camera … and by that time your child had stopped being totally adorable and was now crying.
The phone after that was a Motorola Razr, which was of course totally cool at the time – and actually not bad looking in retrospect. There is nothing like a flip phone for finishing a phone call with a flourish. The only thing that could improve an iPhone (other than a battery that lasts more than 8 hours) would be a clam shell design.
I bought the Alcatel just before my daughter was born, in 2002, the Sony was bought in 2004 (in time to take photos of new born son) and the Razr in 2006. We have gone from being able to call while out and about, to texting then sending fuzzy photos, to even sharper photos to not even needing to take a camera on holiday anymore. In just over a decade.
Writing the dates made me realise that when my daughter was born, we took photos with a normal camera, had them developed onto a CD, went to an internet cafe and emailed the pics to my parents in Scotland. Nowadays, you could live stream the birth (if you wanted to really shock your relatives).
We have become ever more reliant on these gadgets. My phone is my diary, address book, communications aid, sat nav, book shelf, weather hygrometer, supermarket, bookstore, alarm clock, car park payment system – even my wrist watch replacement. Going for a whole day without these would be doable, I reckoned, but as a Social Media addict, could I last a day without Twitter and Facebook? I was not sure.
I woke at yesterday morning and checked the time. I had to get out of bed to do this, and find my old wristwatch because my iPhone was needing charged – I had deliberately not plugged it in as usual because I knew I would be tempted to have a sneaky peek. Normally I lie in my bed a little longer and check emails, Twitter and FB, so my husband was slightly surprised how quickly I appeared at the breakfast table. We talked about what we would do, and I noticed my hand twitch when we discussed opening times of shops or restaurants. I could check that quickly, but no. My useless dead iPhone was upstairs.
After clearing up, which was done faster because I wasn’t replying the tweets I hadn’t sent before breakfast, we went into town. We walked with the kids, then my son had a haircut. All of which I didn’t document for eternity. Is it really important to take a picture of every haircut and tweet it, with a witty caption? Not really. We also managed to go for a walk without taking a photo of the scenery or the kids playing in the grass, or dancing in the old bandstand.
When we arrived home, my son went upstairs to play on his wii, while my husband read a book about the history of Scotland.
My husband recently sent me this TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli. I loved the ideas that Ernesto shared, and bought his book on entrepreneurship.
His book inspired me to sit and think properly about how to develop Jump! Mag. Without the distractions of Twitter, Google and the rest of the internet, I was more productive in one afternoon, than I have been in the past two months.
Ernesto suggests we should SHURRUP AND LISTEN, and that is what I did yesterday. I shut up the internet, and I listened to myself.
I realised that, while I have the talent for creating content and marketing Jump! Mag, I need someone to develop the technical side of things. I have to stop trying to do everything alone, and let someone who is better at the geeky stuff take over. This isn’t easy for me, because Jump! Mag is my baby, but if I want it to grow, I have to let someone else take over.
After writing down reams of ideas, I realised something else. I am not used to writing by hand any more. Ouch.
I am afraid that I cooked dinner on an electric oven, as I reckoned that it wasn’t exactly a recent invention. If you do this challenge and wish to go the whole hog with a meal cooked over an open fire in the garden, be my guest.
We then settled down to read and chat, without the distractions of iPhone, PC or iPad. Our kids were drawing, and my daughter was writing down some ideas for her blog. She joined in the No Tech day and will be sharing her thoughts later.
We have decided that we shall introduce No Tech Afternoons at least once a week, and have dusted off the Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit games in anticipation. Both kids recently said that they prefer board games to computer games, probably because we parents are more likely to join in.
I guess you could say that the experiment was a great success. All of us enjoyed having more time spent together as a family, and I certainly felt that my mind was buzzing with ideas. Getting to sleep took some time last night, but once I dropped off, I slept well.
Can a day without technology change my life? I don’t know, but it certainly made me focus on what is most important and gave me a shove to actually make some changes.
The first thing I did this morning was check Twitter to see if anyone had noticed my absence.