Last week’s ill-conceived decision to take a less-is-more approach to technology left me with a twitchy face, an under-stimulated thumb and an uncomfortable understanding of an old university lesson.
Sure, going Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry free may not sound like much compared to, say, strife in developing nations. But as a mollycoddled Okanaganite with a predilection for pithy one-liners delivered on a thrice-hourly clip, I knew in advance my tolerance would be low.
A vague recollection of a-time-before the Internet, however, led me to believe there would be other things to keep me occupied, even during the worst summer this Valley has seen in decades.
In Hour One of being stuck outside of my online world and inside my house, I took turns reading the newspaper then pacing. Hour Two, I poked at my dog, walked him between rain storms and cut his hair. After he looked too much like a nit-infested escapee from a canine institution, I moved onto my nails.
A brilliant shade of red lasted five minutes until I shoved my under-stimulated hand (which is usually flipping through headlines and status updates ) into a bag of chips and I was prompted to kill another 30 minutes going au naturel again.
Hours Three through 10 featured reams of reality TV about Botoxed housewives who spend more on a night on the town than I make in a year. The latter reality prompted me to both sulk and continually pull back my temples to emulate a facelift.
As the skies became drearier and my face developed a strange tugging-related tic, I was reduced to breathing in and out, perspiring and lusting for some real-time updates on anything but my reality.
So I went to bed.
I’d like to say that I persevered for another six days and reached some techno-free zen state, but that would be an absolute lie. I woke up the next morning and read the headlines of every newspaper delivered to my phone and even skimmed some Twitter feeds.
Social media and the constant updates it offers have become part of my life, meaning old Canadian cultural hero Marshall McLuhan was right — the medium is the message.
The English lit professor from Toronto once explained that the point of much of technology wasn’t the meaning within the shows you we are watching. When we start watching TV, going on Twitter or using Google on a regular basis, the way we view the world is slightly and irreparably changed.
In high school when this lesson was being shoved down my throat, it all sounded high falootin’ and dull, but then again the ’90s weren’t the most revolutionary times. TVs, which sparked McLuhan’s observations, were as commonplace as doorbells, so I couldn’t fathom how I was being altered.
Today, however, I’m quite clear how my brain has been changed by a new medium and on the 100th anniversary of McLuhan’s birth, his words have sparked a creeping fear about what that will mean to our society as a whole.
I mean, I can’t even get through an afternoon without tics and daunting thoughts.
Kathy Michaels is a reporter for the Capital News.