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Our society has become so entrenched in machines. Okay, if this isn’t the most obvious statement of the day, I’m not sure what is. But seriously, if we take a look around us, what do we see. Go ahead, just do a quick swivel in your chair, or simply turn around for a second and count the number of electronic devices that surround you. Just in my room alone, I have this computer I’m typing on right now, a printer, cell-phone, I-pod, I-pad, alarm clock, a couple of desk-type lamps, a black light, lava lamp, flat-screen television, Playstation3, Wii and the Verizon Fios receiver box/DVR. Phew…that’s a lot of things, but in talking with my friends and some family members, these items are pretty much commonplace in every home nowadays.

This investigation took me to a new level of interest when I saw my nine-year-old cousin talking on her very own cell-phone. I asked her why in the world she has a cell-phone, and of course I got, “so I can talk to my friends and mommy.” Ok, I probably deserved that answer, but I still couldn’t help wonder if a nine year old really needed a cell-phone. Then I was over a buddy’s house and his daughter, who’s in first grade, was drawing on a computer program on her mother’s laptop. So I asked my friend when she started playing on the computer and he told me that they’ve been using the computer at school since the beginning of the year. Well, that clinched it for me; time’s have definitely changed.

With this new information I began to wander down memory lane and remembered how it was a big deal to get an extra landline put into my room when I was a sophomore in High School or when we got our first real computer, not Texas-Instrument’s model, that same year.

Ok, I’m sure every generation feels this way about something, as each subsequent generation is bound to surpass the one before them in some way or another. This is certainly the case in terms of technological advancement, yet I wonder what is being lost at advancements expense. Where my generation and those that came before mine might be considered that old man on the porch reciting, “back in my day…” to the young ones, I have to believe that the older generations actually have a perspective that doesn’t include computers, cell-phones, mp3’s and the plethora of other “luxury” items that have since become commonplace. The newer generations are raised on all these electronic gadgets and they don’t know any different, it all has become engrained in them. I mean, I’m sure I’m not alone in talking to a teenager about a tape I had back when I was their age and they give you this look like “what,” and don’t even think about bringing up VHS, that will only confuse them.

Now some probably see this as advancement, and by no means am I belittling technology. In fact I probably love it a bit too much, which is one of the reasons I thought I’d challenge myself. But on the other hand, I also wonder if it all truly is advancement at all?

In one respect I can see this line of thinking owning merit, especially as I think of all the things they’ll be able to accomplish much more efficiently that the older generations weren’t able to do, or most certainly not able to match pace for pace in efficiency. This notion in it’s own right, should lead to their ability to soak up and learn much more information at earlier stages of development. However, on the other hand, I think electronics have pushed our culture further apart from each other, breeding communication gaps, colder relationships, and from that, perhaps, now this is me thinking off the cusp, more emotional problems. Some of these problems can be seeing in regards to having tendencies towards isolationism, the aforementioned communication barriers built up, and a definite lack of belief in true community, the kind that puts human being beside human being and not icon next to icon.
a lack of appreciation for nature, physical activities, playing sports, and many others.

It’s also made it much easier for the laziness genes in each of us to find its way to the surface. I think this issue breeds other problems as well, whether it’s a lack of appreciation for nature, sport, physical activity or reading physical books. Some may not see these as problems at all, but I can only write from my own perspective, one that, outside the reading part, I unfortunately took in myself, which led to, in part of an injury but still, a sedentary lifestyle, a lack of pride, depression and obesity.

As far as physical problems, well posture issues are certainly a concern, as sitting in one position for hours on end is not good for the back or neck, migraines from the exposure to electronics is another (okay, there’s not definitive proof on this one, but based on some new age/psychological websites I was looking at, it does seem only logical as the rise in headaches have been on the steady incline over the past twenty years of so), and then there’s the issue of eye-sight, where the proof is certainly available.

Finally, as touched upon in a couple of spots, there’s this tendency to find ones self locked into one position for hours upon end, creating a lifestyle of inactivity, which, in it’s own right, is a potential incubator for the obesity epidemic that is rampant across the states at least.

So, over the past month, I decided to turn it all off and run an experiment on myself. I made a strong effort to try and live a life removed from electronic devices and went as far to attempt to limit the time I spent using my car. I really thought this would be a mission: impossible type of venture, but as is typically the case with most habits, after the first few days or so, the cravings definitely died down. In fact, after two weeks I could sense a noticeable change in my mood, my outlook on things and strangely, most likely due to many of the things I did to replace the time I used to spend on-line, I was able to drop 20lbs and find that my back and neck were feeling a whole lot better than they’ve been since the accident that damaged the discs five or so years ago.

For the sake of brevity, as I could probably write 20+ pages, I’ll outline a bit of what I found out:

Previous computer usage: 8-9 hours a day. reduced to 0 hours a day
Previous television usage: 3-5 hours a day. Reduced to 1 hour a day
Previous time spent walking: o hours a day, increased to 3 hours a day
Previous weight loss dieting alone: 1 lb. a week, increased to 5 lb.’s
Previous painkiller usage: 6 per day, reduced to 3-4 per day
Previously sadness, irritability and depression were commonplace, now I have to say a newfound enjoyment has found it’s way in me.

The experiment was hardest for me in regards to listening to music, something I would do constantly throughout the day. Unfortunately all my music’s been transferred to mp3’s, which, of course, would’ve violated the premise of the experiment. It was difficult not listening to my precious metal, but eventually I found my senses were reawakened. Instead of guitars, instruments and vocals filling my hearing, I found the sounds of nature as clear as they’d ever been. The enjoyment of music was replaced by a crisper and new attention to my senses and I have to say that I really began to truly enjoy all the simple sounds and other things that previously went unnoticed for the most part. I was able to find the symphony in the sounds of the crickets and the birds, the jets up above, the sounds of people walking about having conversations, and even the backfiring of cars driving by took on a new dimension for me. It astounded me all the things out there, whether it’s sounds or images, that we become oblivious to if we aren’t looking for them or are just preoccupied with other things.

For the most part, I consider this experiment a success. However, I do have to say I did cheat a couple of times throughout the month. I used my phone a few times each week. I thought about ignoring certain calls but it seemed like there were those that had to be answered. Also, I tried walking wherever I could, taking my painkiller prior to the walk so I could handle it, but there were time where I had no other option but to drive. This unfortunately seemed to take place at least once a day or at least many times each week.

The hour of television definitely violated the overall principle of the experiment. Yet, their was rationale behind it, my father had checked in on my DVR from the living room and told me that my storage was almost full, so in order not to miss out on a few shows, like the killing and continuum, I gave in an hour a day to ensure I didn’t miss any of my favorite shows. But, while that was a violation of the experiment, I don’t really feel too bad about it, as in most every other way I feel I did a good job sticking to the original premise and in all consider this exercise on of positive enlightenment for me as a person.

So, while there is a lot in this post, I open the floor to all of you. Take any piece of information within this article and either expand upon something that interests you, or relate an experience of your own that either relates or contrasts to my own. You can also take the notion of unplugged in any sense you choose. It can be in the sense that I used for my experiment, or perhaps the unplugging of instruments for a more acoustic type of experiment. This latter idea could make for a really interesting poem, one I may even attempt myself, if not for this Poetics, then for sure on a later piece. I’m thinking about composing a piece with passionate expression, strong words and then taking that initial piece and replacing the original nouns, verbs and tone into something much more tame, much different, creating that unplugged feeling.

Again, while I tried my best here to relate the background for, and the experiment I tackled, you’re poem can but isn’t necessary as having to fit perfectly into the theme of my post. Simply write upon the topic of becoming unplugged, in any manner that you choose. I can’t wait to reading your responses.

Oh, and if anyone has any questions regarding my experiment, let me know and I’ll answer them the best I can. Thanks again to all, and know that being apart from the poetry was one of the toughest parts of the unplugging experiment, and in that respect, it’s great to be plugged back in.

Oh one more thing. While I did get a lot of writing done in my notebooks, I don’t really want to post any of that stuff, either it’s personal or incoherent without explanation. Therefore I probably won’t get my own poem up until late tonight sometime.

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