College student asks, ‘Is serenity dead?’

Allow me to paint a picture for you: After class today, I walked into my room to find my roommate sitting on our couch with the television turned on to ESPN, his laptop open in his lap with Facebook shining on the screen, his phone in his hand “mid-text,” and James Taylor’s “Mexico” blasting from the speakers connected to his iPod.

Now, I like all of those things just as much as the next guy, and struggle to imagine a day when they did not exist, yet the image of my friend using all of these tools of modernity simultaneously got me thinking about just how much we as a society rely upon these electronic gadgets and the amount of time we devote to them.

Picture a day where you do not turn on the television, look at your cellphone or go on the Internet. It is hard to do. I am a child of the modern world — for me there were always cellphones. I remember going on the Internet in the first grade, and I think the daily morning programming block on Nickelodeon was where I first learned the alphabet.

In my mind it is easy to imagine that people were constantly bored out of their wits before the advent of the Internet and cable television. I realize, of course, this is not true, yet it can be hard to think of alternatives when one is so accustomed to the world today. Ultimately, though, I think there must have been a definite upside.

I picture it being much easier to actually think and reflect on life when the potential distractions weren’t so numerous. Perhaps time for reflection is something that we could use a bit more of today.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to try something a little different. I’m going to start going on walks through the woods at the far side of campus without my phone at least three times a week.

I know this isn’t a laudable act, but I think it will be a good way to clear my head and disconnect from the craziness of the world for a while. The opportunity to reflect on life, and appreciate the things you have is an opportunity often not seized.

The conveniences of the modern world no doubt make it even more difficult to break away for such reflection. I hope to make just a small effort to loosen the chains that technology has imposed upon everyday life. I’m not going to get rid of my phone or stop using the Internet; I’m just going to choose to set them aside once in a while.

Maybe next time you go out, leave the phone at home and see if anything changes.

I bet it will.

Matt Russo is a junior at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., majoring in history and religious studies. He is from Glen Rock, N.J.

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