Ready or Not #208: Doing Without Electronics

I’ve been thinking about this article for a while now.  I find it ironic that I am using a laptop to write it, especially since I’m going to write about going without technology.  Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting that you give anything up, at least not for very long.

I grew up with manual typewriters and eight-track stereos, so to me, computers, cell phones, faxes, e-mails, i-pods and all of the other electronic devices are wonderful conveniences, but they are merely conveniences.  They help me communicate, gather and share information, stay entertained and so forth.

But what about the younger generations who have grown up with all of these electronic wonders and uses them all day, every day.  Their brains are being wired to respond differently.  Can they handle not being able to respond to every whim of a thought?

Recently on my way to work, I was listening to the radio (another electronic wonder) and the radio hosts were talking about a university back east that was asking their students to put their down their cell phones, i-pods, DVD players, computers (of all different types) and televisions for at least one day a week.  I can feel shivers running down some people’s spine right now.  No texting?  No e-mail, music, DVD’s, CD’s, video games?  No electronic distractions of any kind?

Why?  What was the purpose?  I didn’t get to finish listening to the reasoning behind what the experiment was about, but I think I can guess.  To those of us who were raised pre-computer age, all of these electronic gadgets are a nicety that helps to make certain things easier and faster, but to the younger generation who have used these items all of their lives, well, for some of them it’s more than a convenience, it is a need.

I guess you could say that it is an addiction.  An electronic addiction.  Now, if you don’t mind being addicted to your little electronic friends, and you hold your swollen texting digits up with pride, I’m happy for you.  The only concern that I have is that with any addiction, withdrawals can be very nasty.

A couple of articles ago I shared an e-mail from a woman that talked about her and her families experience with the devastating earthquakes in Japan.  She made the comment that she was very fortunate because they had a hard wired phone and had been able to communicate locally with others.  Their cell phones didn’t work.  She also mentioned that she had been fortunate enough to use her neighbor’s internet because her internet was not working.  She also mentioned that the internet connection was sporadic and she didn’t know when she would be able to send anymore e-mails.

She was forced into a situation where she had all of her electronic devices, even her electric clocks, unexpectedly taken away from her.  This all sounds bad, and it is, but if you have an electronic addiction, it could be so very much worse.

During emergencies our brains respond with what we know, what comforts us, and if we can’t talk on the phone, text a friend, or e-mail family, we could experience withdrawals and get very agitated, or even worse, start to panic or become despondent.

I know that you are sitting there thinking I have gone nuts and there is no way that you are addicted to your phone or the internet.   If that is so, then why not try what the university back east was encouraging their students to do – and get unplugged?

Another thing you are probably asking yourself right now is, “What does this have to do with being prepared?”  Preparedness is more than just food, water, and self-preservation.  Anytime you are reliant upon something that could be suddenly taken away, you need to seriously look at why you use it and how you use it.  In an emergency situation, you will need all of your wits about you and not be distracted by brain withdrawals.

And during your electronics free day, if you keep getting a phantom buzzing in your pant pocket or hear phantom ringing and your phone is home on your dresser, maybe you should try going cold turkey two times a week – you are addicted.

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