Technology Free Communities

Can you survive a week free from all technology? I’m talking about no phone, no video games, no computer, no TV. You might be saying, “Yeah, no problem!” or you might begin having panic attacks the moment you think about being without your smartphone. Either way a week without technology in contemporary developed society seems near impossible.

Believe it or not, there was a time not so long ago when smartphone didn’t exist. There was no instant messaging, or Facebook reservations, there was no instant news feed, or access to global information at the click of a button. For a long time, people congregated in common spaces to hangout, learn, and spread news. Because the technology didn’t exist, everyone was on an even playing field, everyone needed common spaces and communities where they could socialize.

We don’t have places for that sense of community anymore. That new hip bar in town, you heard about online, made reservations on your smartphone, and accepted the invitation on your Facebook group. You probably carry your smartphone around with you everywhere you go, in traffic you check your Facebook notifications, waiting in line you read your Twitter feed, and standing in elevators you probably do anything on your phone that looks important to avoid awkward conversations.

Reestablishing the town commons might be a far fetched idea, but creating spaces to succeed technology free might be the first step. Sherry Turkle argues that we should make parts of our own home ‘tech free zones’, where real conversation can happen between family members. The dinner table, kitchen, or other common spaces such as the living room as technology free zones could encourage face to face conversations allowing people to really get to know one another.

Why is it that we are so terrified to be without our cell phones and laptops for a few days? Because we fear being out of the loop. Our society is set up around the advances our technology gives us. It is easy to spend a week away from technology, if everyone else is technology free as well. For instance, retreats, camps, and rehabilitation centers all have strict no technology policies. What they do have though is a strong sense of community.

It is my opinion that we should be creating more technology free communities throughout our societies. Places where face-to-face communication is necessary, making our communities real and not just imagined online groups. We have seen the power of the internet and the way that it was able to change the ways in which we communicate, learn, and grow as a community, but we have also seen a loss in the quality of in person communication and community settings. If we began to set up technology free communities and spaces we might just see a positive change in socialization.

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3 Responses to Technology Free Communities

  1. Came across this video. Although it’s related to an advertisement, I thought it had relevance to your blog post. They use humor to illustrate how dependent select societies have become on the internet and technology. But at the same time, there’s truth behind it. What would we do in a world without technology?

  2. jhanair says:

    I agree, we should have communities where you can meet someone other than online. Technology is spreading like crazy because yesterday… I found out my grandmother has learned how to “textbook”. The same woman who used to call a computer “the box”. I don’t think I like this.

  3. sashline2016 says:

    Point 1: Fightlikeagirl333, your video above reminds me of those Esurance commercials with the old woman, Beatrice. In one commercial she is playing Candy Crush by smashing real candy with a hammer. In another, she’s Scotch-taped all her vacation photos to her house “wall” and has invited her friends over to view them. We laugh at Beatrice for being so technologically challenged, but I’m sure our mockery of her helps Esurance get more customers. It implies: “Beatrice is missing out. She’s behind the times. She’s not cool – to throw in another Media, Technology and Culture topic. Don’t be a fool like her. Hop online and get Esurance! Insurance for the modern age!”

    Point 2: Jhanair, I was actually proud the day my grandmother stopped saying Facepage and started saying Facebook.

    Point 3: I have only had a smart phone for a little over four months and I just asked myself today, “What did I do before I had this technology?” You would think that I could remember a short four months ago, but having it has impacted how I live my life so much that I already can’t imagine not having it. To me it has made my life so much easier – being able to check my email, respond to friends on Facebook Messenger and look up important information wherever I go, whether I have Internet access or not.

    Now that we are so involved in the technological world, I think being torn away from it would make us feel disconnected. When I say disconnected, I don’t mean just from the technology itself, but from all the people that we are connected to through those technologies. In our readings this week (Week 11) we explored why social media in particular is so important to us. Clive Thompson writes in his article “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy,” that it is hard to make plans and have an active social life when you also have to juggle work and family commitments, but it is easy to post on social media. Just today in class, Raz explained that social media has allowed him to keep in touch with people in 100 different countries. Thompson also says that, taken together over time, posts on social media sites allow you to get a good idea of what someone’s life is like. You can feel the rhythm of their life. Although you could definitely experience the rhythm of people’s lives by regularly meeting with them in person, it would be far more difficult to do so on the broad, expansive scale that social media allows. We are easily disconnected in the modern world and there never seems to be enough hours in the day to talk to or visit everyone who is important to you. So, as nice as it might be to disconnect and get back to more basic forms of communication – which we are becoming inept at – our race with the clock has made social media sites seem like our only hope for keeping in touch with all of our friends and family.

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