Kickin’ it 1700’s style

Amberly Tabor

A few weeks ago, I realized how much time in my day I devote to being on my computer, watching television, listening to my mp3 player, talking on the phone, and using other technological devices. I also realized how dependent I am on modern conveniences such as driving my car constantly to places I could have easily walked or rode my bike to, talking on the phone and texting people all day, and relying on my phone and alarm clock to keep me organized and punctual. Technological dependence these past few years has gotten so bad that teens don’t leave their houses without their cell phones, iPhones, mp3 players, or portable game systems, and if they do, have extreme cases of separation anxiety. Being more likely to smoke, drink, do drugs, have a poor self-image, and engage in sexual activity has been linked to watching too much television. Obesity and conditions caused by obesity such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and sleep apnea are also more likely to happen to teens who watch too much television.

Realizing how much the modern teen depends on electronic contraptions to get through their day, I decided to conduct an experiment and see if I could last a week without using:

A car

A cell phone or phone, MP3 player, cd player, or any other electronic music player

The computer or internet


Electronic alarm clock (I have to use a mechanical one).

Thinking of giving up the use of these things would cause panic in any normal teenager, and although I was a little apprehensive at first, I quickly welcomed the idea and grew excited to see if I could survive without the gadgets that are usually the epicenter of my life.

Getting to school was a fairly simple task. I live about two miles away from school so I could easily ride my bike. My friend Yelena Kulik, senior, who lives close by to me, rides her bike on most days so we partnered up and rode our bikes to school together.

The first day ended up being the most challenging. My mom tried to get me to borrow her road bike, but adhering to my usually stubborn nature, I refused to ride anything except my old mountain bike. That was a mistake. Very shortly into my trip I realized that the gears were stuck and it wouldn’t go anything lower than the highest gear. Most of my route to school is uphill, so there was an obvious problem. After arriving at school, I began to feel extremely ill. I tried to ignore it through my first period class but it soon became unbearable so I went to the nurse. She reasoned I was sick enough to go home, but since I didn’t, and couldn’t, drive myself to school, I had to ride my bike home. That was probably my worst experience of the week. After letting out an endless stream of school inappropriate words the entire way home, I lay on my couch and didn’t move for an hour. I ended up having to miss my Austin Community College class because I was in no shape to ride my bike to school again. If I was able to drive my car, I would have gone back to school, but that wasn’t the case. I was pretty sick, so the next day my mom refused to allow me to go to school unless I drove my car to school. I almost stayed home, but I realized that going to school was more important than sticking to my agreement to write off the use of my car. This is one case where the use of my car was required to do what I needed to do.

Throughout the rest of the week, things went pretty smoothly with riding my bike to school. I ended up giving in and riding my mom’s road bike, which actually made life much easier. Not using my cell phone was a little bit harder to do for me, as I had predicted. In order to hang out with friends after school and on weekends, the use of a cell phone is crucial. Other than being at school, using a phone is the only quick way of communicating to other people. The only other way I could have communicated was if I sent someone a letter, and that would take days. Most people don’t check their mail that often either and chances are, the person I sent the letter to might not have received it until a week after the fact. So I wouldn’t be lonely, I set up times with to hang out with before I started my pseudo-Amish life. It worked out pretty well, but if I hadn’t set up those times in advance, I probably would have been a recluse the entire time.

What I really missed though was my nightly conversations with my boyfriend. He lives about 30 minutes away via car, so riding my bike there would have been impossible. Because of the distance and our schedule we can’t meet up often and talk on the phone a lot instead. I wouldn’t have been able to see or talk to him the entire week if I hadn’t set up times for him to come over the week prior to my experiment. I still really missed him on the days I didn’t get to talk to him, though. The good thing about the lack of contact was that we had a lot to talk about on the days that we did get to see each other.

A major obstacle that I faced with was coming up with things to do. I ended up having a large amount of free time that week for some odd reason. I wasn’t assigned much homework so my unusually large amount of time after school left me confused and disoriented. I spent most of my time sitting in my room twiddling my thumbs and thinking of things to do. I ended up reading an entire book that week, something I hadn’t accomplished in a very long time, and playing mounds and mounds of board games. It surprised me how much fun playing Monopoly and Yahtzee could be. I won most of the games, but we won’t assume that that was why I found it so entertaining.

I it was actually extremely easy to get around town. The first day I began my return to the dark ages, my friend and I rode our bikes up to Starbucks and sat around drinking coffee. We then rode our bikes to Walgreens and Randalls, picking up a few items that were needed at home, and rode back home. The trip was short and enjoyable. It’s a beautiful time of year and swearing off electronics gave me a lot more time to be outside and enjoy the weather.

Surprisingly, I had no trouble keeping away from the computer and television. The only instance this was a problem was accidental. We just started a research project in my English class and went to the library to begin our research. Everyone grabbed a seat near a computer, including myself. Instinctively, I reached over and began to log in, but immediately jerked my hand away when I realized what I was doing. While my surrounding classmates were able to research using online databases and type up their notes, I was forced to resort to research using books and paper. The process was so slow that I barely got anything done. It was extremely frustrating. Today, we are gifted with the ability to access an infinite amount of information at the click of the mouse, never really realizing the extent of this gift, we often overlook it and aren’t thankful for how lucky we have become.

Although I had a few challenging obstacles that week, overall, the experience was pleasant and enjoyable. It was surprising how effortless it was to maintain my promise of staying away from electronics. When I told them what I was doing, most people shuddered and wondered how I was able to do it, but it was really pretty easy. I was a little apprehensive about committing to this, but I am extremely pleased with the results. Most would think that one week of altering your lifestyle couldn’t change it permanently, but it has. I’m now riding my bike to school more and spend more of my time outside and actually going out and doing things instead of vegetating in front of the television or on the computer. We are told this so many times, but we only have one life to live, and we need to live it to its full extent. At midnight, the end of my week, I admit that I had an urge to turn on every electronic appliance in my house and blast four different songs at once from all of my musical equipment, but I ignored that urge and decided to end it in the most proactive way: falling asleep while reading a book.