do I get extra credit?
(Melissa Gilbert as Lara from Little House on the Prairie http://wodumedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Melissa-Gilbert-Laura-Ingalls-stars-in-Lionsgate-Home-Entertainments-Little-House-on-the-Prairie-The-Complete-Television-Series-3.jpg)
The couple days I spent without my phone oscillated between pre-apple innocence to post-apple guilt. Without my phone I was not tethered to email, texting, and Facebook, which recently have become just as much of a burden as they have a way of positive connection and communication. Becoming deeply entranced in a book without the bird chirping noise of a text was great, until the habit of communication stimulation told my brain it should be checking something right now, and then immediately freaked out because someone might be trying to contact me (my mom, a teacher, a boss, a resident…) and couldn’t. Certainly no one was dying… but they might be…
The other interesting sensation was the way I experienced physical space when there was no the option to ascend (or descend) into spaceless cyber-space. Sitting in my room on a cold winter evening without a phone or laptop felt a lot like sitting in an old wooden cabin. Everything felt self contained. Far from the Wikipedia of hyperlinks my room usually presents itself with (phone, iPad, laptop), it was more like a book– consistant, in it self, and save a tree falling on the roof, not going to radically change appearance in a matter of milliseconds (as your computer will when you switch from this blog post to Facebook).
Perhaps the most interesting thing is that I immediately wanted my phone back. Sure, not having it was interesting, but it was definitely a novelty rather than an experiment I was trying on for size to eventually wear everyday. My brain has changed to fit my phone, my computer, Facebook, my iPad, and most likely whatever technological innovation comes next (Google Glass, anyone). While believing myself to be in one way or another apart from the technological addiction common to so many people presently, this experiment has shown me that actually I’m just one of the very technologically connected crowd. Bring on the face recognition software.
(In other news, Facebook is now bestowing political legitimacy… http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/world/europe/kosovo-seeking-recognition-follows-the-crowd-to-facebook-social-media.html?_r=0)
It should have been easier for me than everyone else to give in my phone, but I didn’t. It should have been easier because I don’t have a smart phone (yet). This is partially because I don’t want to pay the extra 30 bucks a month for the data plan, and partially because I am not ready for that kind of addiction in my life. I already waste enough time on Facebook and Tumblr with just a computer, so I don’t think introducing a new way to access them would be healthy for me. So simply because my phone has fewer useful features than other people’s, it should have been easier to give it in.
That said, I still wasn’t able to just toss my phone into the box like that. Someone in class said, “my phone is my alarm clock,” and I latched onto that as a real reason not to do it because it’s true, I don’t have any other way of waking myself up in the morning, not even a roommate. That is legitimately important, but to be honest, it didn’t even occur to me until someone said it, so it’s certainly not what I was thinking about when the idea of turning in our phones was first proposed. I was thinking about a fear of being disconnected. I guess I just wasn’t brave enough to give up that lifeline that I reach for when my gut realizes I’ve been alone for too long. You can’t always count on Facebook chat the way you can count on a text. And I’m not a good planner — I rely on the immediacy of texting, the ability to change plans at the last minute, the 7:00 “dinner now?” texts, the “where are you?” texts. And I rely on others’ ability to send those to me.
I’m sure it wouldn’t have been that bad to be without my phone. I’ve lost and broken phones before, so I know I’d survive. I suppose the real, basic reason I didn’t give in my phone was because my gut reaction was: “I don’t wanna!”
Not having a phone these last couple days was definitely a throwback, interestingly enough. I only got an iphone at the end of last year (before that I had the same sturdy flip phone for a shocking six years), and I thought having an iphone had completely changed my life, but after this experiment, I find myself rethinking that. As I mentioned in class today, I had a habit of losing my flip phone at least once a week and I was fine not having to text and communicate with people that way because my phone was so limited in its functions that it really wasn’t that different to not have it on me. I was worried about how challenging communicating with people would be without my phone, but it was not nearly as stressful as I thought it would be. When I wanted to talk to my mom or dad, I would go on skype. When I wanted to reach friends, I would go on fb messenger. When I wanted my phone to listen to music while at the gym, I borrowed my friends ipod. Living in the world that we do today, it’s so easy to replace with multiple objects this one object that many define as necessary. It was nice not to have my phone on me and not have to constantly be connected for the first time in a while.
My life sans cellphone was hardly different from my life when I do have it. I don’t use my phone very much. The only people who ever actually *call* me are my parents and my sister (and spam callers), and even they only do so once every few weeks. They generally don’t expect me to pick up, as they know sometimes my phone runs out of battery and I forget/don’t bother to charge it for days at a time. Important information is usually relayed by email, which I can’t check on my phone. In fact, I have a feeling that the reason I am not very invested in my phone is mostly because it doesn’t do very much—it isn’t a smartphone and it can’t go on the internet. I do use it to text people, but most texts are logistical and never particularly fun or important. During the two days without my phone, I received a grand total of 1 text—it was my sister asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I hope she still buys me something, even though I did not reply within 30 seconds as seems to be the expectations with text messages. Most of my social life at Bard happens face to face, as my routine schedule and living situation means I see most of friends face-to-face on a near daily basis. I probably would have run into some communication issues if I was without a phone for more than two days, as I didn’t bother to let anyone know I wouldn’t have it. Two days, especially during finals, goes by very quickly. Something I did notice was that if I heard a phone vibrate somewhere, I knew it wasn’t mine and wouldn’t have to check it. Overall, I guess there are a few possible explanations for why my phone is not as important to me as it is to most of my friends and peers:
- EVERYONE else has way more friends/is inherently more social than me, and the only thing this post is demonstrating is that I am actually an anti-social loser (I sure HOPE this isn’t true, but one can’t ignore the possibility)
- My phone is a dumbphone and isn’t very fun to play with
- Instead of using a phone for compulsive activities like checking email/facebook/chatting/whatever, I use a desktop or laptop computer
- I’ve set a precedent with people I know that my phone is never the best way to contact me
I do wonder what my life would be like if I had a smartphone, but from what I see there aren’t that many benefits I’m missing. I assume there will come a point where having a smartphone will be required to be a functional member of society (or it will be the only kind of phone you can even buy), at which point I will likely switch over.
I am very much computer-oriented, so a more interesting life experiment might be to go completely without a personal computer (or perhaps the internet) for a while.
Overall, I found the experience of not having my phone rather pleasant. It was nice to be able to disconnect from the obligations I felt to staying in contact with others. I was able to focus entirely on my work without having to stop every few minutes to answer a text. Instead of being on my phone, talking or texting, as I walked to class, I was forced to actually take note of my surroundings and think without any other distraction. When others would be on their phones before class, I had the opportunity to think about possible points of discussion instead of scrolling through my typical apps or websites. I experienced moments of zen, like when I was able to read before bed at night without the constant buzzing of my phone.
Though overall I found the experience extremely positive, there were situations where having one would have been useful. For example, when needing to get into my building and not being able to contact anyone inside. Making social plans was suddenly difficult, and I emailed my friends instead of texting them. Like Sylvia, there were moments when I felt socially disconnected because everyone else was on their phones, and I realized how we truly are in Turkle’s words, “alone together.” There were moments when I would search frantically for it, only to realize that I had handed it in. Simple tasks such as timing when to get my laundry or waking up on time in the morning suddenly posed a challenge.
I realized how much I depend on my phone for simple tasks, and after going without it for a few days, I am certainly going to try to use it less.
Lunch: When I am alone, I automatically pull out my phone to catch up on news or look through my social media pages. Usually I eat lunch quickly and quietly, alone but connected. Today while eating, without my phone, I realized just how alone I was. Now, just thinking about my phone makes me reach out to find it. Honestly, while I was JUST typing about NOT having my phone I briefly stopped to look for it… yeah. It seems that this mobile devise/mini computer has become ingrained into my daily habits.
5:00pm: ^That being said… WOAH am I productive. Without the temptation of sending/reading texts I am so much more focused and able to do my work.
9:00pm: I just realized that I depend on my phone in order to wake up…. This might be an issue.
Going to bed: Longing for my devise but I will hold out!
Morning: Waking up without the ability to check my phone is bazaar. I realize this ritual is my “reentry” into the world. I catch up on what I may have “missed” while sleeping. I also realize, as a result of my phone, I no longer use my mental “clock”. I left my room an hour later than usual and missed breakfast. Still I got to class on time. In general, I feel a little out of it today.
Afternoon: Planning without a phone is SO difficult. I can’t just send a text saying “running late!” Hopefully people will understand.
I did not think this would be hard. I have gone long periods of time without my phone before. This was a different experience. It becomes more difficult when everyone around has their phone. I felt very disconnected. I think over the course of these few days, I realized just how alone I am sometimes.
I am happy to have my phone back.
Already, in my 10 minute walk back to my dorm, I was faced with an issue easily preventable had I had my phone. I had forgotten that I gave my dormmate my card to swipe into my building, and after knocking on every window and door possible, and calling out the names of my friends in my building, I was stuck with no way in. A simple phone call would have allowed me to gain access to my building, since after climbing in through the kitchen window, which was thankfully left ajar, I found my roommate in her bed, playing casually on her phone.
I was halfway through Cornelia Vismann’s article “Out of File, Out of Mind” and all I could think of was this scene from the movie Zoolander: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQGX3J6DAGw
Derek and Hansel are trying to find a file for evidence, but they can’t figure out how they can do that when the files are IN the computer. Eventually, Hansel breaks the computer, thinking it will open up and the files will be there, magically. But it’s not a problem that the computer breaks, because there’s a backup. There’s always a backup.
Vismann brings up a wonderful point in her essay that we delete, cancel, and clear files, history, and documents from our computers not to get rid of those tangible aspects, but to get rid of the memory of them. We don’t just want things gone, we want them forgotten. Vismann says that people “often misunderstand the logic of disappearance”, bringing up a story of a man who tried to get rid of a law by literally ripping a page out of the law book. She also brings up Julius Caesar, and how people did not just want him gone, they wanted him forgotten. We don’t delete files to get rid of the evidence. We delete files wishing they never existed.
Another interesting point Vismann discusses is the idea that “A political secret was no longer what was kept in the files, locked away in chanceries or hidden in obscure archives; a secret was exactly that which was off the record.” This shift happened around 1900 and it drastically changed the legal ideas of what could be used and what could not be used for evidence. I’m not sure what I think about the idea of “off the record”, except that if something is said out loud, shouldn’t it be fair game anywhere? Maybe? What do you guys think about “off the record” rules?
I was also very interested in the progression of deletion of files. First, there were the wastepaper dealers who, as Vismann says, perform their work of destruction neither truly in the imaginary realm nor truly in the symbolic.” Another very interesting thing that she says is that “One does simply not find any how-to instructions for the destruction of files”….which is what made me think of Zoolander. Do ya’ll have any thoughts on the idea of being told how to get rid of files, or what it might mean to not have the instructions to delete files?
After the wastepaper dealers came the paper shredder, or the Reiflwolfe, literally meaning “tearing wolves”. I love that. Wolves are ripping apart my papers. Brings up an amazing mental image.
Deleting paper files, tangible files, is “dirty work” according to Vismann, or at least dirtier compared to deleting electronic data.
My dad once told me (ok, more than once, he tells me this all the damn time) that nothing can ever truly be deleted from the internet. So I guess with reading this article and thinking about Zoolander and my dad’s wiseish words, which is better: digital or paper files? The one that can be saved forever or the one that can be erased forever?
Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard seeks to investigate the complex relationship between reality, symbols and society, Baudrillard starts off by explaining his definition of what a Simulacra and Simulation is in his terms. Simulacra are copies that depict things that either had no reality to begin with, or that no longer have an original. Simulation is the imitation of a real-world process or system over time. Baudrillard claims that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with new symbols and signs, and that human experience is now just of a simulation of reality. This simulation has become out reality. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to is symbolism of culture and media that construct perceived reality. Baudrillard believed that society has become so saturated with these simulacra that our lives meant nothing. While Simulacra and Simulation is difficult to follow because of how Baurdrillard redefines terms, he does an excellent job of giving examples to help one follow along and understand what his is trying to say. In order to understand his idea of what is means to be a simulation, Baudrillard gives an example of sickness; while one can pretend to be sick without and symptoms, when ones simulated sickness they can’t help but get a few symptoms making this fake idea technically a type of reality. Baudrillard then argues that when this state is reached a type of copy is introduced called the “simulacrum”. A simulacrum is not unreal, nor is it false. It is not representation because that tries to become simulation by interpreting it as a false representation, simulation envelops the whole complex idea of representation as a simulacrum.
Baudrillard then goes on to describes three orders of simulacra. The first he explains how reality is represented by image, giving an example of maps. The second order of simulacra is one in which the distinction between reality and representation becomes blurred. The third order of simulacra where simulation takes the place of the relationship between reality and representation. Reality itself is thus lost in favor of a hyperreality. Hyperreality is such an interesting concept and I feel as if I am still just beginning to grasp exactly what is means. Agin, with Baudrillard’s great examples I was able to understand this a little more. I believe that the idea of something being hyper real comes from the theory that the lack of distinctions between reality and simulacra originates in several phenomenas. These phenomenas beings contemporary media, as well as places like Disney Land.
“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.”
Personally, while I read Bullrigard, I really enjoyed his writing and found it very interesting, especially when he used examples. His writing lead me to think more about religion itself as a simulacra as well as think more about places like New York City, a place with a certain image, just as Los Angeles has one as well as Baudrillard mentions. Did anyone else find themselves thinking of examples the way Baudrillard did?