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Going gadget-free for a week a Herculean challenge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A few weeks ago, I embarked on a journey that few dare take. I struggled and beat myself almost to death to complete the odyssey. I strived for victory and then ungracefully fell on my face. But with the support of the ones I loved, I stood up and continued on.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go an entire week without electronics! (This was before the June 29 storms, mind you.)

This week seemed hard, no, impossible. This week was my Mount Everest.

It began like any other. I awoke on Monday morning -- on my own because I could not use my cellphone's alarm clock -- and fought the urge to sit at my computer and check my email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I must have stood in front of my computer for 10 minutes, just staring at the black screen.

I ate breakfast without checking the news on my phone. I got dressed without listening to my iPod. I did my AP summer work without the help of an online thesaurus. I was already feeling the pressure building in my skull, making my eyes and fingers twitch. (Okay, I wasn't actually twitching, but I was close!)

And every day after was much like this, except for a few things. Every day, my phone's touchscreen seemed to call my name a little louder. Every day, my iPod whispered into my ear with a little more persistence. Every day, it was harder and harder to say no.

On Thursday of that week, I felt like I was going crazy. I needed to check my phone. I needed to catch up on my Facebook gossip. I had to spend hours on iwastesomuchtime.com.

My family watched me slowly crumble, and they could tell that on this day I might just give in to my temptations. They all watched with eyes like a hawk, and just when they saw me walk over to the drawer I had put my phone and iPod in, they attacked.

The pushed me out of the way, pinned me to the couch and ran away with my electronics! It was a battle, a war! I was ready to do anything to have my phone!

However, after much coaxing by my family to not raid them, I began to read "Desert Solitaire" by Edward Abbey. I had begun the book about a year ago and did not have time to finish it, so I thought why not get some reading in? Then, strangely enough, I came to a quote in chapter 17, "Terra Incognita: Into the Maze," that gave me the strength to carry on: "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." It did not fit perfectly with my situation, but I realized that if I got through the week that I would accomplish something that very few people can do in society today. So I did it. I went a whole week without electronics -- not without struggle, but I did it.

The moment I held my phone for the first time, I heard the song "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb in my head. I felt an exhilarating and overwhelming rush of bliss, and everything was good again. Everything seemed right.

That week, if I learned nothing else, I learned that I am addicted to electronics.

But how can one not be in the world we live in? In every room there is a TV, a computer, a kid with a cellphone. The technology epidemic is unavoidable, and we will all just have to adapt to it. It is impossible to outrun technology, but we can embrace it ... with diligence.

After that week, I am on the computer a little less. I spend a little less time watching TV, and I manage to only use my iPod when I'm in the car (never when I'm in the house). That week was terribly difficult, but I would recommend it to every man, woman and child out there. A week, or even just a day, without technology would be good for all of us.


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