Last updateFri, 08 May 2020 6pm


Disconnecting from Technology

One Student Tells His Story About His Phone-less Experience

The answer is yourself, as I recently learned how splendid the effects of distancing yourself from the inundation of technology can be while I was half a world away from home.

My wife Vicki and I took a trip across the pond to England this summer. We crammed our itinerary with tourists’ stops: Stonehenge, Big Ben, Windsor Castle and plenty of pints at the pub.

But a week before we left, Vicki noticed we forgot to buy an international cell phone plan. When she enlightened me of this oversight, I instinctively reached for my phone, akin to a parent covering their child’s ears to protect them from an offensive epithet.

I could see my entire social networking life—everything from AIM away messages to Miley Cyrus tweets—flashing before my eyes.

What self-respecting tourist would dare travel without the capacity to Instagram their experience?

If I couldn’t share my trip in real-time with my friends and run-of-the-mill internet stalkers, what was the point in even going?

After some deliberation, we decided to forsake the extra cost of an international phone plan and take the plunge into the world without electronic contact.

Vicki did devise an emergency communication system for us. I don’t recall what it was, but I’m pretty sure it involved some kind of smoke signal.

But something special happened as I turned my phone to the dreaded airplane mode: I paid attention to my surroundings in a way I hadn’t in years, almost as if I was now viewing the world in high definition.     

Without the ability to use my phone as a crutch to occupy any free time, I was forced to observe and absorb everything in greater detail.

Instead of merely glancing at passengers on the plane, I took note of their otherwise innocuous features, such as the color of their clothing and whether their shoes matched their outfit (Vicki has me well-trained).

After a few days of traveling around London and witnessing buildings and monuments older than our country, I gained an even greater appreciation of perceiving our planet without the assistance of a smartphone.

Instead of viewing my life behind a 5 inch piece of glass and plastic, I was just soaking everything in and gaining an actual memory of my experience instead of one stored on a phone’s hard drive that could crash at any time.

Perhaps the most memorable point of my world without WIFI was when Vicki and I stood on the bank of the River Thames and watched the historic Tower Bridge open; an occasion that only occurs a handful of times each year.

I remember it vividly: the overcast skies and cool, misty rain coated the railing we were pressed up against.

I chuckled to myself as numerous spectators recorded the opening of the bridge with their iPads and iphones, and couldn’t help but think about how liberating it was to perceive such a rare occasion with my own natural senses.

My arm was already around Vicki’s shoulder, but I pulled her a little closer anyway and gave her a bigger hug, sealing a physical stamp on a once-in-a-lifetime memory. There’s no app for that.

Next time you travel, try to put the phone away for a few hours while sightseeing. You’ll be amazed at how the world looks when you actually stop to appreciate it in its natural beauty.

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu