Introduction: It’s My Mother’s Fault
I read this Weaver article out loud to my mom on the Sunday before my IT Fast took place on Wednesday. It was the second time I read it out loud; the first time was to Colonel C who laughed uproariously throughout. My mother laughed as well except she got hung up on the section about Dunkaroos.
“What’s a Dunkaroo?” she asked.
“I’m not sure,” I said.
“Well, look it up.”
“You’re asking me to use my smartphone to research what Dunkaroos are during my reading of an article about how attached we are to technology while I explain to you my assignment to track how and why I use technology for information searches? I have to start my paper disclosing that my first awareness of how I use this is looking up things like Dunkaroos?”
“I just don’t know what they are. I’m sorry you had a Dunkaroo-less childhood.”
I stared at her while developing the realization that this is, indeed, exactly the type of information I look up on a daily basis.
“This paper is going to be embarrassing, isn’t it?” I said out loud. “Great.”
Preparing for the Fast
While my job does not require extensive information searching, I felt I would be more at risk for breaking the fast accidentally while working; therefore, I chose Wednesday, January 13, which was a day off. I printed articles for both classes I am currently taking. I got a new puzzle ready to open and begin. I am reading a wonderful fiction book that I had every intention of perhaps finishing. Most importantly, I made sure my television with an exorbitant amount of channels was working properly.
Unfortunately, I am an avid social media user, particularly Facebook, and I like to collect news information, post it, and make snarky comments about it on a daily basis. I also do the requisite dog pictures and comedic takes on interactions in my daily life. This would not have been a big deal to give up except the world was in chaos following the domestic terrorism at the Capitol the week before. I had been regularly interacting with a number of people online so the whole “Let people know you’ll be offline for 24 hours” was important to remember.
I warned them that I would be absent for a day. I assured them that I had not been arrested by fascists and that it was by choice. I also mentioned that if my wife began rapidly posting it was because I had stolen her laptop and that since we are married, there was no reason to call authorities.
I put my phone on Do Not Disturb and, seeing as how I am about to turn 41, I still have a landline so I could just let my phone sit there and forget it exists. I was prepared, notebook in hand, to prove to the world that I could go without any of this and barely blink.
Then I awoke on Wednesday, January 13, and didn’t waltz through the day so much as trip through it like a baby giraffe on roller skates.
The “Screen Sabbath” Itself
My dogs woke me up., a good 2.5 hours early, and instead of grabbing my phone to check the time, I looked at a clock. “Good job!” my internal monologue said. “Starting off right!” Minus being awake at 6 a.m., of course.
Woke up the second time. The series of things I wanted to look up in the first 15 seconds of consciousness were: Did I win any of my daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests? What is the status of the impeachment? Do I have any important messages from anyone who didn’t see my message about being offline? Any other news?
Began embarrassing levels of self-pity for not being able to stay current on world events, most definitely not limited to actual world events but more so “random Twitter comments about world events that make me laugh and feel better about the end of American democracy.”
Used landline to call a friend who needed help with phrasing a document for official work purposes. This was very inefficient since I tend to write very well but speak just a bit like Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.”
Began rationalizing that playing DFS basketball isn’t really cheating even though it involves significant research and “research” is sometimes synonymized with “information.”
Struggled to decide what to do first. I then lamented I could not message my friend group to make fun of myself for not being able to decide what to do first.
Realized the NHL returned that night. (Thanks, ESPN!) Considered moving every TV in our house to the living room so I could have all the upcoming sports in one spot. My team, the Edmonton Oilers, was playing the Vancouver Canucks. I then wondered if people at the University of Washington (where I currently attend) were Vancouver fans because isn’t Seattle right across the border from Vancouver? This led to a strong desire to look up this piece of information to confirm that I was correct that Washington was north of Oregon and that Vancouver is where I thought it was. Do we have an atlas in the house? We do not. Did I look for one? Yes, I did.
I still had not decided what to do and instead was wandering around the house. Every morning, I spend 10-15 minutes reading an actual paper book and had skipped this step on the one day I was supposed to read an actual paper book. Therefore, I showered.
Realized putting my phone on “Do Not Disturb” meant I couldn’t get calls either. Began my irrational anxiety that I would miss, like, the one important call of the year. Went to check my cell phone for calls (as we were allowed to do and not everyone had my landline number) and realized that I had not actually shut off the notifications. I literally closed my eyes, cleared the notifications, and checked only the phone app. No missed calls since my rate of important phone calls to unimportant phone calls is literally 1:1000.
Turned on CNN as they began reading the Articles of Impeachment Part Deux. Sat down in my chair and began writing my pen pal a long overdue letter. There I would remain for the full 3+ hours of the impeachment hearings. I don’t watch TV news. Ever. But alas, there we were.
11: 10 a.m.
Yelled at my wife to bring me my physical dictionary because I could not be confident I had spelled “awry” correctly in my letter. She laughed at me.
Impeachment debates begin in the House of Representatives.
11: 40 a.m.
In the assignment description, it says, “As your absence from IT becomes dangerous, impossible, or unbearable please return to it — note that “inconvenient” doesn’t count.” Jim Jordan began to speak and I began to wonder what exactly we’re considering unbearable in this situation.
Jim Jordan began his ill-informed understanding of the First Amendment and I can’t even figure out who to call to yell at because I typically metaphorically do my yelling online with fellow metaphorical yellers. Also everyone was working. I realized I’d chosen a very poor day to do this assignment.
My notes say, “Matt Gaetz could single handedly sink this project.” I had the most pure case of FOMO in my life wondering what Twitter was saying about him and his insane, pretend victim speech during which he began shouting which is what one does when one’s point is illogical and one misconstrues “volume” for “substance.”
Wished I could look up the order of speakers online so I knew when I could take a bathroom break. I also looked up the words “Consternation” and “Vacillate” to make sure I was using them correctly in my letter.
House completes discussion and votes to impeach. I flip over to ESPN to find out that the biggest NBA trade in recent memory just occurred. They interrupted their show, NFL Live, to mention said trade before giving zero details and returning to discussion a sport that would not occur for four more days. “Check out the full details at ESPN.com,” they said. “SOME OF US CANNOT!” I said out loud. My wife yelled from her home office, “Maybe you should shut that off and do a puzzle.”
I finished telling her about the James Harden trade. She responded simply with, “Interesting. Go do a puzzle.”
I call my parents. They’re retired and since we’ve identified my mother as having the same issue I do, I assumed she could talk to me. Or my father! He likes sports! He also does not watch the NBA and doesn’t care. Mom seems uninterested in talking, a first in her entire life that she does not want to have a long conversation with me. I am horrified.
My boss who doubles as my friend called my wife to have her ask me about a work situation. I answered and then the two of them began chatting. I walked into her office and literally grabbed the phone out of her hand and began talking to him about everything happening. It sounded busy at work so he had to go. I shouted, “Noooooooo” like someone in a horror movie just watched someone get killed.
Opened a new puzzle. Hoped maybe it would make me less dramatic.
Completely cheated on the assignment to fill out NBA DFS contests which had the side benefit of explaining the Harden trade in detail. I only looked at NBA information and then tuned in for the Oilers game at 9 p.m. Convinced myself this was just “watching TV” in a different way.
“We should watch _______.”
“What service is it on?”
“Look it up.”
“I CANNOT LOOK IT UP.”
“What was the name of that one show?”
“STOP ASKING ME QUESTIONS!”
“Who won the Stanley Cup in 1992?”
“I hate you.”
“How much do hockey pucks weigh?”
“Do you want a divorce?”
“How fast can Connor McDavid skate?”
“Okay, I want a divorce.”
“Who is the lead singer of The Cure?”
“Nevermind. You’re already dead to me.”
I collapsed into bed and she literally woke up and asked, “What year did Volcano come out?”
“For the love of god I’m not sure and can’t confirm until tomorrow.”
For the record, I was right.
My information needs are, apparently, the following:
- Sports news
- Actual news
- Confirming that I am using words appropriately
- Confirming I am spelling them correctly
- Making sure what I think I know is correct
- Things that might be useful in trivia
- To prove I’m right
- To win an argument
- To gamble money
- To share news
- To ensure the news I’m seeing is verified
- To look at sports statistics
- To read snarky comments about important things
- To write snarky comments about important things
I never did read my book or any articles. Good job, me!