Media Mirror

From a “Digital Native” Perspective

BOSTON—Thanksgiving break of my sophomore year was the same old bicoastal holiday tragedy: “there’s not enough money for you to come to Thanksgiving,” my mom said on the phone. So instead of flying home, I lugged my clothes, laptop and television across two transfers on the green line to my roommate’s friend’s apartment.

“What’s your wi-fi password,” my roommate asked quickly after settling in. We both busted out our laptops waiting for the code that would break open the portal.

“About that,” our host muttered, “the school gave us free wifi for the first three months but it just expired.”

“What does that mean?”

“We don’t have internet.” Our laptop screens shattered.

We both looked at each other in complete shock. What would we do for four days? After all, we were digital roommates; we spent our quality time side-by-side in bed snickering at Facebook comments and tapping away witty responses. I checked my twitter every hour and had a painful obsession with the TV-soap “Scandal.” When our heads began to hurt we would turn our brightness down.

What are we going to do?!

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View from my dorm desk — Roommate Tamara Boyle at computer.

We ended up watching the first season of Pokemon—the only TV show any of us actually owned—repeatedly for four days in a row and who knows whatelse. There were withdrawals and there were invisible digital tears as our laptops lied about like lifeless props, but one thing I realized throughout my digital sabbath was that, as painful as only face-to-face communication was—I survived without internet for four days.

Not so many “digital natives” would’ve fared for so long. To put this idea to the test, a Bentley University professor recently experimented a 48-hour digital fast with his media-and-society class. Boston Globe correspondent, Eugenia Williamson, joined the fast and reported her own experience in this narrative exploration.

The anxieties from the student testimonies in the article reveal one major theme of the digital native lifestyle: our lives kinda really do rely on technology. Especially for the digital native in college, contact with anyone but yourself and the people passing you on the street is upheld by cellphones; monitoring bank accounts and transferring money has never been easier than with apps; and obviously ordering a pizza at midnight would require more effort than it ever should.

After overcoming some of these tribulations, the students–with Williamson in tow–survived the weekend, although Williamson admits that they fared better than she did when it came to maintaining a social life and following along the media’s constant digital cycle.

This article did more than just highlight a digital native’s biggest fear of living in a world without technology, it proved that everyone in the modern age would tweak out if they were no longer attached to their pet gadgets.

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