All out everyday life is determined by computers and the internet. There are only still a few activities in our life in which we do not use electronic devices. Although there are technologies that help you get through the day and be productive, the same technology can also waste your time. It is like cigarettes or other drugs. It is said one can do without it, but it is used every day. Through a simulated blackout, I tried within one day to learn how dependent I am to technologies and did notes during the test. Since the notes included 12 pages, this became the blackout journal of a technology junkie.
The blackout journal
I wake up and want to know what time it is, but I don’t have a mechanical watch and when I look out through the window, I have no clue since it is cloudy. It’s raining and not even the state of the sun can be recognized.
There is no more electricity
First, I go to the toilette and try to turn on the light. I forgot for a moment that I had switched off everything the night before. Except for the kitchen! On the eve, the loud buzzing sound from the refrigerator had ceased just after the press of the switch. I had to turn on the power for the kitchen again because I had food in the fridge and electricity was allowed for cooling and cooking during the Blackout Challenge. I simply sealed the clock of the microwave since it is not used to prepare food and I can’t use a digital clock.
Morning routine with obstacles
In the bathroom, I arranged candles, marmalade glasses and lighters/matches, since I have no window in the bathroom and it can only be lit up this way. I have now set four candles in the bathroom but still have too little light to normally see myself in the mirror or in the shower. I really thought that one candle per room will be enough. Every room also has one light bulb, right? What way of thinking did I have yesterday to believe this (and I did not even test it)? For a hot bath this would be a pleasant brightness and the natural colours of the flames are very cozy.
I try to place the candles in places where they can give out as much light as possible and I noticed that when the bright tiles behind the candle are free, they reflect strongly. So keep towels, cosmetics, shampoo bottles, etc. out of the way. At this point I wished I had several small mirrors or sheets. I found a small mirror and with the reflection I could have a little more light on the shower.
I already spent quite a lot of time for the light setup in the bathroom but not yet showered, did sport nor eaten. I would like to know what time it is. Suddenly I heard the church bells from the kitchen. There I tipped a window and listen through the slot trying to count the punches. As the bells on Sunday mornings always turn, I assume that the religious were called to the Mass. So I can guess it’s 10:00. Because I had to go to church as a child on Sundays and I lived in the immediate vicinity of a church as a student. I strongly assume I know about this. If the speculation is right, then I overslept today and should get things moving
It is fascinating that I could hear some sound from the church, since I had never heard any in the present flat. Normally you hear a noise from the fans of my PCs and servers. These are always at full load, since I invest their computing power for research purposes in the area of cancer, AIDS, Ebola, climate change, etc. (more information about BOINC can be found here). I often watch series, internet videos or just listen to music, but today it is incredibly quiet. I can even hear the rain, which has a soothing effect. Maybe this replaces the noise of the fans, although the rain is also very quiet.
Sport with obstacles
For morning sport exercises, I downloaded Fitness videos on my mobile phone from internet. I did this, so I can have the digital trainer even where there is no Internet. Now that I cannot even use my mobile phone, I find it difficult to remember the exercises and their order. I’ve been doing these exercises for months and should be able to memorize them! Between two exercises, there is a 15 second break and while I try to remember the next exercise, I count. Normally, the video tells me which exercise I should perform and for how long. And when I should take a break and for how long. Actually I would plan all my day in my mind during the whole exercises and simply make what my mobile phone says, but not today!
I noticed technology
Before I shower I put a small portion of frozen fruits or berries in warm water, to have some “fresh” and healthy ingredients for my cereals. But already when pulling the berries out from the deep-freezer, I realized what a luxury this is. If I did a “Total Blackout Challenge”, I would have had to buy expensive fresh berries or collect them myself. These would probably also start to mold after 2-3 days without a refrigerator or deep-freezer.
Is a hot shower luxury?
Showering with weak shimmering yellow-warm light is very pleasant and I feel like at the wellness (only without music in the background). I also have to say here that I am glad not to be in a “total blackout”, because for the preparation of the hot water electricity is needed. Whether it is to ignite the flame for oil/gas systems or for a power-driven water boiler. Does it need electricity to pump the water into my apartment? I do not know! For me it is self-evident.
After showering I have to be careful not to turn off all the candles while drying. Just briefly tossing the towel too quickly around the shoulders can lead to pitch-darkness in the bathroom. With such a weak light, I also had problems reaching my armpits with the deo. I am so used to applying the deo with bright light and a mirror that it doesn’t go right at all without. That’s ridiculous! Not even breakfast and so many problems. I go to the bedroom to get clothes from the closet, but I see nothing. After thinking for a while in the bathroom, I picked up a candle and found the right clothes. Now it is really time for breakfast!
Finally breakfast, but where is the entertainment?
As usual, I pour off the prepared berries, put them in a bowl, and sprinkle oatmeal and linseed on them. I then pour this mixture over spelt milk and sit with the bowl and a spoon in front of the screen to watch new videos on subscribed video channels. When I sit down, I press the red button on the remote control to get started. But today I only noticed after the third trial that I have no electricity in the living room.
So back to the kitchen on the table I use otherwise only to cut vegetables. I realize there is a newspaper on the table. Since it is raining outside and you can only see gray shades from the window, I decide to leaf through the newspaper. Such a newspaper is 20x bigger than a tablet. It can not be held with one hand and you can’t even have breakfast in this way at all. But I noticed a smaller, colourful version of a newspaper on the floor. It is advertisement for some furniture in a store. This is handier and I can eat my cereal with the other hand. That’s great!
Without ad blocker, I become aggressive.
But wait! I hate ads, because the information makes me think about replacing my perfectly intact property with something new. Just to get rid of money unconsciously! On every PC, I have a current version of ad block installed in my browsers, even on the mobile phone I have an ad blocker, which keeps me the crap away from me.
And why do I get newspapers and advertisements at all? My mailbox says I do not want newspaper nor advertising. And this manipulative garbage is now in my apartment. The companies should be sued for this. Oh no, it can’t work! For this I need proofs and since neither advertising nor newspaper are addressed, I must sit the whole day with another witness in front of the mailbox and catch the culprit in the act. Perhaps I should make a video proof or have the post guy sign a confirmation that he actually fills junk in my mailbox.
But all this will not be possible as a working man. And even if I would take a vacation and prove it, next week the newspapers and commercials of other companies would be in my mailbox. I would have to make the same game with everyone, until one accepts my will.
Since I am very troubled, I cannot enjoy my breakfast in the kitchen anymore and look at my reflection in the curved widescreen format in the living room.
A small machine takes off my work
Finally done with this time short breakfast. Normally, I still sit in the living room and watch several videos on the Internet at once. But this time, I quickly lose interest just to sit around. After eating, don’t forget to brush the teeth! So I get to the bathroom and … what is that? Oh, I picked up all the electrical equipment in the apartment yesterday and put them in a cloth bag. My electric toothbrush included which I replaced with my travel toothbrush.
Wow, it is super laborious to brush his teeth thoroughly with a simple hand toothbrush. Am I doing it right at all? Normally, my toothbrush tells me if I press too hard, how long I must be in a quadrant and when I must change. I think it takes two minutes to brush the teeth. That is, 30 seconds in a quadrant. But should I count now? No! This is so exhausting enough.
Without technology, only the walk remains
I am irritated and the scent of candle wax is also annoying me now. I walk along the river and pass a swimming pool. In the outdoor area people actually swim although it is now cold and raining. There also hangs a large clock and at first I thought it was long past 14:00 o’clock, but it was not even 12:30 o’clock. I thought that writing the journal and all the inconveniences in the morning took a long time and that I had even lost more time in bed. It is only midday and probably my usual time killers would have already swallowed so much time that it would be evening in the meantime. But not this time!
Lunch with electricity
For the first time today, I can turn on an electrical device, because I’m slowly getting hungry. Before preparing the food, I first wash my hands. I noticed, however, that my soap dispenser is an electrical device, which I had completely overlooked yesterday when collecting. I switched it off and replaced it with a shower gel, since I had no curd soap in stock.
So, now to the hearth! A digital egg timer, which tells me when the noodles are ready. A digital kitchen scale with which I can accurately weigh the ingredients on the gram. An electric exhaust hood that sucks steam & co. Light, so I can see what I cook and, of course, the electric stove, where I can cook and fry everything quite quickly. I notice that my kitchen contains electrical appliances, as the rest of my apartment all together.
When cutting the vegetables, I thought that people were probably already happy when they had a sharp knife, because they were far from what I consider as self-evident, and appreciated it. Why do I need to take something away to appreciate it? Am I so spoiled already?
And again advertisements
After preparing the food, I took the plate and a fork straight back into the living room. This time I discovered a new course book from the Adult Education Centre, which was sent to me by post. Although I had a course at the Adult Education Centre, I cannot remember giving my address for advertising purposes. Tired of the course book, I enjoy my homemade food. It must somehow be possible cook these spammers goose?
Enlightenment by natural light
In the evening I read a book for half an hour. How do I know this without a watch? I have hourglasses running an hour, half an hour, 10 minutes and 5 minutes each. However, it is very difficult to read with natural light because more and more grey clouds are coming up and it is also becoming late. Because of natural light, I noticed that I spent most of my time on the couch in the guest room, because this is exactly under a window. I am writing my journal here and reading a book.
I also realize why our parents have put our desks at the window. One had so simply enough light during the day to read and write. Nowadays it makes no sense to put a desk at the window. The computer monitors shadows during the day, obstruct the windows and light up at night. It would be nice if I could pull the monitors into the table or if one could hide them quickly. I’d rather now have natural light and a free desk where I could do anything, instead of sitting in front of an LED lamp and monitors.
Getting rid of boredom
Actually, I decided to throw all things which I didn’t use for weeks into a crate. The crate contains things that could still be used in the future, but are currently not used intensively. When opening the crate, I immediately noticed a gyro twister. Excellent! Entertainment without electricity! Try it out immediately. After a few failed attempts with the hand (I could with the hand), I grabbed the string and started the mechanical toy. It was great fun and I should put the thing back on my desk as I can train my hands with it. But I think as soon as I have Internet again, I will have no time for it.
The sun goes down and suddenly there is no light
At my new favourite place in the guest room, I unfortunately don’t see much again and it is impossible to write. So I went into the living room and made myself comfortable on the chair. This has two side tables. One for the laptop and one for the mouse. Where the laptop should be, now stand four medium sized candles in glasses and where the mouse should be, is now my notepad with pen. But even four medium-sized candles can not give enough light sufficient to write without restriction. How did people solved this earlier when the sun was setting?
Dinner bread in the dark
I made myself dinner bread and cut open a pepper. The light in the refrigerator seemed like a stadium light. My eyes have probably gotten used to bad light conditions quite quickly. Nevertheless, I would be glad if I could, for the rest of the evening at least use the LED from the smartphone, then I could have done things. But I can use my mobile phone only for an emergency! Although I prepared myself well, I have to prepare better next time. A lot of the time gained is simply lost for doing nothing.
Let the evening go
But as I have noticed this morning, candles are great for cozy moments. I’m going to bathe now! But I have no idea what time it is? Since I want to keep the calm of the night and set the alarm clock for tomorrow, I removed the adhesive strip from the microwave and looked at the clock. It is 22:15 o’clock and I really thought it was a maximum of 20:00 o’clock. I’m not tired yet!
Bathing dropped out today and I’m going to bed soon. Next time I must in any case have an analogue clock or at least allow the exception to use watches. Without an exact time, you are quite lost, except one checks the exact time when the sun sets and how the weather condition would be. With some luck, there are no clouds in the sky and you can guess the approximate time by the sun. However, this should be practiced before, because only few people have such abilities.
I’m not tired yet and want to lye a bit more in the living room on the couch, but it is too dark for me. I still have quite a few unused tea lights. Why not just use them till the end of the Challenge? Said and done! I put 30 tea lights on my couch table and lit them up. My living room has never been radiated with so much light and it looks cozy.
The constant flickering of the 30 flames is, however, unpleasant with time.
The challenge is over! Plug all devices again
I can now unpack the bag with the electric toothbrush, alarm clock, smartphone, tablet, soap dispenser, etc. and bring everything to its place. I have two battery operated alarm clocks, which should give an alarm in the morning at a distance of 5 minutes. Both alarm clocks indicated a completely different time, which even deviated from the microwave. Now I was completely confused! After checking my smartphone, I was then clear that it was only 20:30 o’clock and the batteries of one alarm clock just ran out today. But what about the microwave? On the eve before, I was at about 22:00 clock at the fuse box and switched off everything. When I noticed that I needed electricity in the kitchen, the clock on the microwave started again at 0:00 and did not blink. After a day without technology, I blindly trusted the microwave and wanted to go to bed early.
More notes and what came to my mind
Everyone knows the problem! One questions something in an instant that is amoung others completely unimportant. But take the time to do research on the Internet. Since I had no Internet and I still had the urge to get answers, I wrote down these things. In retrospect, however, I think most of them are irrelevant. But convince yourself personally:
- I would like a solar weather station with time display so I always know the outside/inside temperature and never have to change batteries.
- I want a fully automatic wristwatch, which winds itself while running.
- Is the socket in my cellar actually connected to the general current?
- I need sand paper for glass because my homemade candle holders have sharp edges.
- Buy a lighter with a long neck so that I can light on almost burned off candles in the glass.
- How were candles used to read or write? Were there any apparatuses from mirrors to use the light efficiently?
- Why are the trailers of oil transporters cylindrical?
- Discontinuation occurs faster than expected. You need some technology only briefly a day, but you want to have it all day. It builds up a nervousity, if this is not the case.
- Even with good preparation, you forget a lot, because too many things seem self-evident. I wanted to read a book with candle light and thought it would be the same as a light bulb or LED. No chance! Candlelight is much too weak to reach anything after intrusion of darkness.
- It is (suddenly) hard to be alone! With entertainment electronics, you can definitely live better. I can now understand that earlier many people joined together more quickly. Nowadays, there are social networks, multiplayer games on the Internet, interactive broadcasts, and at any time their needs for entertainment can be satisfied. Previously there was only the television of the one entertained, but the communication went only in one direction. Today, you can watch live shows (Livestreams) and talk directly to the people you see on the screen. Even if many people are alone, they do not grow lonely.
- You spend a lot of time on research to get immediate answers for unimportant things. If you feel such an urge, you should write down the things somewhere. If the urge after 1-2 days is still present, then you can invest the time to look it up. But in most cases the matter will be considered unimportant.
- You only get a lot of knowledge when you actually get into a particular situation. Therefore, a blackout challenge can open your eyes.
- You suddenly do things for which you do not have time or do not want to take time. Unfinished things are very easy to get by if you are not distracted.
- You are more aware of your environment. I have a lot of unused stuff in the apartment, which I had only used when I had no Internet.
- Before the Blackout Challenge, I thought I was more distant from technology. Afterwards, however, I had to learn that I am a technology junkie.