This is a series of short posts I’ve written over the past few weeks concerning technology & feeling bad about being consumed by it.
I’m currently writing this 30,000+ feet up in the air. I just left Miami International Airport and I’ll be landing in Heathrow to study abroad for a semester in London. When I first found out I’d been accepted to the program I’ll be in for the next four months, the first thought that popped into my head was: ok cool, but what am I going to do about my phone? I’d have to decide between an international plan or a pay-as-you-go. Technology was my primary concern, not seeing Les Miserables on the West End or going to Stonehenge or Abbey Road. Am I an ungrateful asshole or am I just addicted to technology? I doubt there’s much of a difference. I justified the importance I placed on settling my technological affairs by not wanting to get “Taken’d”.
Part 2: I just got settled in to my apartment. Actually everyone here calls it a “flat” but I feel like a fraud so I will continue calling it an apartment. There are no elevators in this building so I tricked a bunch of boys into carrying my two 70-pound suitcases up four flights of stairs. During orientation, we were told the building we’re staying in dates back to the 18th century. One boy then asked how “strong” the wifi was. We were also told we live down the street from the British Museum. A girl then asked where the closest Starbucks was. I rolled my eyes but also took comfort in the fact that there are varying degrees of ungrateful assholey-ness and maybe I’m on the mild end of that spectrum.
Today I realized I was accidentally roaming on my phone for like 3 hours. I am so, so sorry Dad.
Today I almost got hit by a double-decker bus as I was trying to send a tweet about the Zayn Malik look-alike I saw outside of Topshop. To die by my phone’s side would be an embarrassing way to die.
Part 5: Everyone on the program has started adding each other on Facebook. I don’t recognize half of these friend requests and I feel kind of bad about it. I just accepted Tyler from the fourth floor and learned that he is a fan of The Big Bang Theory, Candy Crush, Mitt Romney, and 3 Doors Down. Just deleted Tyler.
Part 6: Today I took selfies at Big Ben and The London Eye. I also photobombed, maybe like, 15+ people. Then I saw a child take a picture of the Thames on their iPod Touch and they had surprisingly good composition. Afterwards, I took the subway (they call it the Tube) home and some creepy, middle-aged man in a suit and New Balance sneakers gave me “the nod”. So, naturally, I stared at my phone (which obviously doesn’t get service underground) until he got off at his stop.
Part 7: Today on Oxford Street, I was approached by a man asking me to donate money to starving children. I said “No, I’m sorry” and he replied with “Excuse me, I just fell in love with your eyes.” Then he started hitting on me and asked for my phone number and I said I didn’t have a phone and that I was “late for something.” Then I ran away. And that’s what I get for not donating to starving children. So, I went home and ate an egg salad sandwich and watched a The Price Is Right rerun from the late 80’s. Some lady won a VCR worth 500 pounds plus RoboCop and Dirty Dancing on VHS.
Part 8: Today three of my roommates went to Mass. I didn’t even know they were religious but apparently they are. Then I started to feel bad because the night before I said multiple variations of “Jesus fucking Christ” and “There is no god” while losing/playing Mario Kart Double Dash on GameCube.
I’m currently writing this in my living room. My roommates are all out and I’m on my fourth Babybel cheese. I’ve been here for nearly two weeks and I feel like I’ve seen nothing. I mean I’ve SEEN all the attractions but something’s off. I feel as if I’m sabotaging my entire experience abroad by allowing myself to be absorbed by technology. I’m an introvert, so I find socializing to be very challenging. Instead, I let my devices become a crutch. To quote Ezra Koenig, “THE POWER OF DEVICE COMPELS U.” But honestly, I just want to EXPERIENCE, not document. I want to be able to drink a cup of tea without struggling to find the perfect Instagram filter for it. I want to walk up to a real person in my apartment building and have a real conversation and not just creep on their Twitter and wish I was their friend. I just really, really hate my reliance on tech–OOH WAIT THEY HAVE THE FIRST TWO EPISODES OF GIRLS STREAMING ON YOUTUBE HOLD ON.
Last night I went to a pub called The Court. I was on my second cider when my roommates decided it would be “fun” to put all of our phones in a pile and whoever touched theirs first would buy everyone rounds. I lost. Obviously. Whatever.