My mp3 player broke over the weekend. I didn’t drop it, step on it, run it through the washing machine. It just stopped working. I was in the process (the slow, laborious process) of deleting some files from the disc when it froze. I reset it. Five times. Each time it would get to the start up screen and stop loading. I let the battery run down, recharged it, tried again. I repeated this process several times before finally giving up, after I’d determined the frozen start up screen is the equivalent of the blue screen of death.

I then proceeded to order a new one off Amazon, and now I have to wait a week for it to arrive. A whole week. A week in which I have to listen to the chatter of my co-workers instead of the soothing sounds of lostprophets. When it finally does arrive, I have to cross my fingers and hope that I can transfer the files from my laptop to the new player without any problems, because I ended up with a different brand from my previous player.

That’s right. I did not order an iPod.

I posted the following as my Facebook status the other day:

“Sometimes I think technology has actually set us back.”

I do. That I’ve come to rely so much on a stupid little device to make my work life (or my workouts, because I hate cardio with a passion) is ridiculous. Too many people I know, myself included, rely on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date on friends lives, rather than, oh, I don’t know, calling them and having a conversation. And don’t get me started on the anecdotal evidence of the generation that’s grown up texting and IMing and as a result, can’t spell correctly or writer properly.

How did we survive, no, thrive before the iPhone was invented? Before email took the place of a hand-written letter? Where if you missed an episode of your favorite TV show, you just had to wait until it played as a rerun?

Technology has done amazing and wonderful things for us. But I also think it’s stunted our ability to communicate effectively.

Last year, the Seattle Times published a story about teens giving up social media for a week, and how hard it was. Talking on the phone instead of texting? Horrors! Some discovered they got more exercise because they weren’t on Facebook all the time. Others found some of their friends have trouble talking on the phone, after having spent years texting conversations instead of actually vocalizing them. Parents and teens actually talked to each other about their days, rather than relied on text messages for updates.

I personally think I rely far too much on technology to make my life more bearable, but sometimes it can’t be helped. The BF and I work almost completely opposite schedules. His teaching schedule is such that having a phone conversation between lessons is almost impossible-we email each other almost daily. And we live together. We’re pathetic, I know.

I email my parents more frequently than I talk to them, even though we live in the same city. It takes my girlfriends and I several emails or texts just to plan a simple movie date (one time, we exchanged 30 emails before we settled on a movie, day, time, and restaurant. 30. 30 fuckin’ emails.) I stay in touch with my old roommate via Facebook more than I text her, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually called her. And then there’s the whole mp3 player issue.

I conducted my own little experiment as well, and discovered that I needed a new job (I have yet to find said new job.) I may do the experiment again, possibly next month. It’s kind of cheating though: next month is National Novel Writing Month, which would mean all I’d be doing is work, sleep, eat, and write. Write my ass off. Those 10,000 plus words in one weekend? A regular occurrence. But. What I didn’t write about in my post about the experiment was how much more relaxed I felt. My oldest friend called one afternoon and we had an epic conversation, lasting over an hour. I spoke with my sister. My mother. I called the BF more often, usually on my lunch break. I read more (well, more than I already do, and I didn’t know if that was possible). I didn’t get more exercise, but that’s because I’m pretty lazy.

The more I think about this, the more inclined I am to want to do it. To force the people in my life to have real conversations with me, not just take the easy way out and email or text me. Hell, I might even give up TV for a week.

Now, here’s the challenge: can YOU do this? Can you give up social media for a week, two weeks, a month? Can you stop emailing, texting, Facebooking, Tweeting? Remember the first step in recovering from an addiction is admitting you have a problem, and that’s just what it’s getting to be-an addiction.

If you decide to take this challenge, I won’t mind. The Rubber Duck Brigade will still be here when you get back. And send me your stories.

*image via


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