By Louis Johnson – Comment Sub-Editor
It was Wednesday, 8pm. I’d spent most of my day attempting to construct a new tune on my laptop, after a short break I returned to my desk. I’d begun to make some headway, it felt like after a few more hours of graft my masterpiece would be complete. Alas, my prediction was not to materialise.
Out of the corner of my eye I began to notice a flicker from across the road. The flicker continued for around thirty second, yet my focus remained un-waivered. Eerily though, along with my music, the light began to amplify.
Suddenly, my speakers became synchronised with the flicker, along with my monitor. Flashing in my face for a few scary seconds, I considered the possibility that my laptop had decided it had had enough of my monotonous melodies and was about to pack it in.
Thankfully my laptop stayed on, but my speaker and monitor, along with everything else in my house connected to the mains, had died. I noticed my laptop was on 1% and swiftly saved my project. I quickly clocked that there were no streetlights on, neither were any of my neighbour’s lights!
A power cut! My instant feeling, oddly, was excitement. I often wondered what life would be like without technology. It was unlikely though that I was about to experience this to its full extent.
We received a text soon after the outage informing us that the technicians would be over shortly to fix the problem. Our power was said to be up and running between 10 and 11pm, I breathed a sigh of relief in the solace that I would soon be able to return to working on my music.
With 20% left on my phone, I decided that I’d reap the remaining benefits of being so deeply connected to the outside world. With no power, I could no longer use the oven or the hob, neither could I see what I was doing without draining my phone battery by using my torchlight.
I lit a candle and began to slowly panic. What was I to eat that would fill my oversized stomach substantially enough without use of an oven or hob? Naturally, I ordered a pizza from the Deliveroo, a much-overused privilege, and problem, of mine.
I quickly set about informing my friends of my impending disappearance. I sent a few updates and after drifting off into the depths of social media slowly realised something. In the context of such limited battery life, I was completely wasting my time. In fact, even without this context, scrolling through social media is still a complete waste of time.
Interconnectedness may be causing us more anxiety than it can overcome.
Of course, I had always known this, but the power cut had given me another perspective. Though I had always known that our obsession with, and reliance on, social media was nothing but toxic. What I was looking forward to most was the inability of people to contact me.
It appears that, though phones may mean we can reach out to people more, our interconnectedness may be causing us more anxiety than it can overcome. For me at least, once my phone had died and I laid it beside my bed on charge, anticipatingly, I felt a massive weight off my chest.
We all have many responsibilities, and we all need our time away from them. Yet, it seems to me that phones, along with the reach of most devices, have extended our responsibilities into times which they are not needed.
I am not saying that I want to run away from all my responsibilities, but as an anxious guy who often can’t sleep I naturally, and automatically, grab my phone. This is not natural though. I have countless unopened messages, emails and inboxes. Communicating through our devices has always seemed to me unnatural, I never seem to read things right and I will re-read important personal messages over and over.
My anxieties will misconstrue the meaning of anything that isn’t face-to-face. It was, therefore, a final respite for me to have no phone.
I slept incredibly early and woke up at 5am with no concept of time I went to my parent’s bedroom. They told me the time and read out the text from our energy provider: “we have managed to restore power to all houses in the area, bar one”. The remaining house was, of course, mine.
I spent the rest of the morning wondering when our power would return. The novelty had soon worn off and I was looking forward to being able to cook again. Luckily, I had no responsibilities for the coming day, yet, if I had, I would have been unable to do much.
I am, unfortunately, completely reliant on my phone to access money, to travel, to work out my university schedule, and my work schedule. Though being able to use my phone would improve my prospects for the coming day, I hold that our overuse of telecommunication is unhealthy.
My power returned that day at 1pm, I was able to return to my music. Though I was happy I could now communicate with my friends and family once more, the ominous anxiety that plagues over me along with the presence of my phone continued.
Image credit: Daniel Arrhakis