The Conspiracy

Going Unplugged [24 Hour Challenge]

Jerry Seinfeld

Resisting the urge to watch 'Seinfeld' was hard, but Carly Silver managed to go an entire day without using electricity | photo by flickr user Alan Light (CC BY 2.0)

Hi. My name is Carly and I’m a techno-holic. Like many of my friends, I constantly surf the web, check my e-mail, and watch TV. Therefore, when I was presented with the challenge to “unplug”  from sundown on March 23 to sundown on March 24, I was a bit nervous. I’ve never followed the Sabbath convention of foregoing electricity and wasn’t sure if I could last twenty-four hours without cracking under pressure. With a lot of determination and a bit of luck, I can now proudly say that I went a whole day completely unplugged.

Friday afternoon was filled with dozens of errands I had to do before I could no longer use my phone or computer. I picked up groceries and made sure my friends and family knew I wouldn’t be answering any digital device for the next day. I must admit that I did keep my phone on and with me throughout the entire twenty-hour-hour period, but I instructed everyone to only call me in case of an emergency, in which case I would answer it. Thankfully, it didn’t ring and I didn’t pick it up.

By sundown at 7:15 on Friday, I was home reading  in bed. I could have gone out and had fun, but I’ve always been perfectly happy to be curled up with a book. Aptly, my novel of choice was The Lion in Egypt, which takes place in Egypt during the time of Joseph. Even though I was engrossed in my book, the temptation to get up and check Gmail or flip on the television was compelling. My feet itched to pad into the next room and watch an old episode of Seinfeld, but I resisted, calling it an early night.

On Saturday morning, I made sure to keep myself as far away from my laptop and other computers as possible – by going to Brooklyn. I know that electric travel, like the subway, is forbidden for many on the Sabbath, but I had vowed to unplug my own electrical devices, not others’. Having taken care to print out the directions on Friday afternoon, I headed to someplace that would keep my mind – and heart – occupied: the Brooklyn Mutt Show. A long-time dog lover, I knew I’d be too busy fawning over puppies to worry about going online.

I was about four subway stops away from the dog show when I got a terrible stomachache. I staggered out of the subway station and found the nearest bathroom. By the time I felt better, I realized I had missed most of the dog show. Sighing, I got myself a cup of tea to settle my stomach – at a pizza place where a Turkish staff member told me, “The Russians drink vodka. The Turkish drink tea” – and resolved to let the fresh air help me heal.

After what seemed like forever, I finally arrived in DUMBO, a neighborhood on the waterfront in Brooklyn. There, I situated myself in a cafe and edited stories – all by hand – for my Creative Writing class at Barnard, then completed readings for my Islam course. By the time I finished, the sun was almost down and I made my way back to Manhattan.

The wait until sunset on Saturday felt like forever. I squirmed as I watched the clock tick, minute by minute, until, at long last, it was 7:15 again. Jubilantly, I skipped to the next room, turned on my laptop, and found out I actually hadn’t missed much. There were no important e-mails in my inbox and no major music news had popped up on my favorite blogs. Though I was a bit disappointed that the world had gone on without me, I still felt a great sense of relief at being, once again, back in touch with technology.

In the end, I found the experience challenging, but rewarding. I know I didn’t do the full-on Sabbath experience, but my unplugging was a step in the right direction.

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