I am an entrepreneur, so I’m using computer, tablets and phones on a daily basis. I am also using, as anyone, my phone and other devices as an individual, to mainly interact with people on social networks, to take picture and so…
But lately, I’m also wondering about the over usage of all of this. Am I free in a sense that I use this technology to improve my quality and comfort, or am I addicted and enslaved by it ? This is a serious topic as I am an actor of this ecosystem.
So yesterday, I tried a new experiment that I called #TechnologyFreeDay. The idea is really simple : no computer, no tablet, no phone. All shut down for one big day (7th of February 2016, Sunday)
To be honest with you, it was an experiment worth to make. Indeed, it’s a strange feeling actually and all kind of questions arise.
#morning breakfast routine exploded
This starts on the morning when I used to be waken up by my alarm clock on my phone. This time, no alarm ringing whatsoever. Waking up with no constraint is really appreciable (That’s why I made this experiment on Sunday, there is no professional constraint).
Then, just after waking up, usually I used to check mails, send some snaps, play youtube from time to time but also morning readings (books or magazine). This time, I prepared my breakfast (omelette), took my shower very quickly (due to not listening any podcast nor music) and decided to go and visit some cultural places. As I knew I couldn’t have access to my computer, I listed, the day before, few places I could go.
I took my car and park in the center Paris, at Saint Michel area.
I wanted to go on top of Notre Dame de Paris to enjoy the view, but when I reached, it was over crowded (2hours of queue). Is my time so worthless to waste it on a 2 hours queue ? I don’t think so…
So I went, by walk, to Panthéon. It was a 15 min walk, but completely different. No SMS to answer, no twitter timeline to check… I know the road by heart, but having the head up makes me see statues more precisely, look at the building in more detailed way, and looking to people too. I was more aware I can say.
#the non camera freedom
As a parisien, I know most places in Paris, but having the opportunity to visit them is a different topic. Usually, when I visit a place, as lot of people, I took pictures. But this time, my phone was shut down. I was still carrying it in my pocket, just in case of emergency. But I had no access to it, it was powered off.
Visiting a place knowing you can’t picture is somehow disturbing but also very pleasant. You are truly more focused on the painting you see, on the architecture. You know you can’t immortalize it on a picture, so you instinctively are more focused I would say, you just enjoy the paintings, the readings and all the statues.
It’s also funny, cause 95% of all the people you see hold their phone or camera, and took pictures (selfie or not). I saw someone rushing from painting to painting, just taking picture, without even looking at them firstly… It was funny. I also questioned myself, did I have the same behavior when I carry my camera? I hope not, because it looks so ridiculous.
#the bird feeder
Back home, I fixed the birdfeeder on my garden I did few days ago with recycled stuff. The birds are using it intensively, so lots of interest you may say 🙂 focused on a manual task here makes you feel more connected. Once fixed, birds were coming again few minutes later, that is rewarding 🙂
On the afternoon, I decided to learn a new instrument. I saw few days ago a workshop happening in Paris to discover and learn the Siku, the Colombian flute. I decided to participate. And I tried to go without using any map, just with my orientation and… I failed 🙂 I reached the neighborhood by car, but I was unable to locate the street by using my orientation sense. I bearly know the area so I had to activate the GPS embedded in my car. I really wanted to avoid that, to avoid using that technology too but I realized that I made the effort to find the place on my own and was about to be late, so technology here was a needed companion (as I was 2 streets close, this helped me polluting less by reaching the place quickly instead of rounding…) I could have struggle more, ask people certainly but I decided to use the device to be helped and avoid wasting time. Instead of being addicted to it, I just used it when I needed it to make me save time. That’s all about technology, saving me time on things that are useless (like wasting time on traffic for what ?)
#music gather people
I went to this music workshop, and felt very connected to people, truly. 3 hours dedicated to discover this columbian instrument called Siku I would probably never try otherwise. I could have stayed home, watch a movie or play some game but went out of my comfort zone, meet people that share interest in this instrument and talk with them. There were kids as well as adults. Again, during the break, I saw kids playing with smartphone, adults sending message and so… It’s very interesting to observe all this behavior that I would probably do as well if I was not doing this technology free day. By observing them, I was in fact observing myself (in terms of behavior).
No phone, no messages, the only possibility left is to interact with human being. I’m close to people I guess even when I have my technology assistance, but without it, you are even more. You discover people, listen to their story, to their life, to their experiment, getting the most out of it. It’s priceless.
On my way back home, I decided to diner at a soup bar then to drink something, on a café facing Notre Dame I used to go with friends. I knew the director there, but our interactions was limited to courtesy ones.
I sat down on a table, and started to sip my drink, listening to live Piano music while looking at the huge Notre Dame monument. I had no choice but to focus on my senses: what I see, what I hear, what I taste. People were talking about an undefined number of topics, in any language I was able to understand thanks to the few languages I speak. Some were interesting, some were just useless. I guess that what happens when I gather with friends, sometime we probably talk about things that are pointless, sometimes about dreams and projects 🙂
Then a group of Asian tourists walk by the cafe, and the director says « come here, Paris is dangerous, it’s safer here » . I knew he was referring to the Paris attacks last November. So I started interacting with him and we talk quite a long about the events and he explained me how he dealt that night. His Café was highly exposed, he had 6 waiters there and all the customers…He barricaded the café and things… I know this could sound pointless, but if I was into my smartphone, I would probably never had this human interaction nor this real life testimony. Most importantly, I would never know this person, his name, and his point of view.
You are home now, but again, no mail to check, no message to send, no story or picture to share! Books are your best friends here. No blue light to keep you awake but the natural sleep cycle taking over 🙂
This was an excellent experiment I would probably try to make it weekly routine.
I really think we are starting to be weak with all this technology by not living the moment, but trying to artificially capture a moment that is uniquely aimed to be shared. So this experiment is all about « toughening up ». No technology slavery or assistance unless it provides a real benefit.
There is one downside of this experiment I believe: it’s about close circle interaction. I wasn’t able to contact my family nor my friends and was unable to be contacted too. In case of emergency, this is really the worst. But this true disconnection really gives you the understanding of what should matter in life, and we are talking here about quality life.
As Paulo Coelho says in his book called Aleph : « Oublie que tu vas raconter cela aux autres. Le temps est ici. Profites-en. »