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Reliance on Power and Technology

When the circuit breaker blew on our home’s power connection, my explanation to the then-teenager as to why nothing was working in the house, included telling her wide-scale electricity generation was not available in our area until the 1930- 40’s.

Furthermore, I explained, her own Grandmother remembered the introduction of what was referred to as, “the electric light.” On hearing this, my teenager responded with a pained, then incredulous look, before asking, “So you grew up without electricity?” (Certainly not, I retorted. I was born well after the war!)

Life before Cell Phones

The teen then continued to ask how our generations could possibly have managed social arrangements and meetings without even a mobile phone to help us! If no one turned up at the agreed time, what did you do? she asked. I explained how we’d:

  • wait or wander off nearby, feeling either disappointed and confused and come back to check a short while later
  • find a payphone and call the person, if we knew their home phone number, (which we often did), or if the phone book was in-situ, we could look the number up. [How long has it been since anyone saw a phone book in a payphone box?]
  • go to their house and find out what happened
  • give up and go home
history

The conversation made me acutely aware of how reliant modern society is on energy and information in the form of the world wide web and cell phones. I wondered:

Could we cope without cellular or internet connections?

Fifteen years ago, such a question would have been superfluous, but now I’m not sure. My older sons certainly act as if their jugular vein has been severed if the internet connection drops out, for more than a few minutes. (In Australia, this may be fairly commonplace). Without mobile phones towers operating, we are effectively shut off from technology and information.

Consider for a moment,  how really powerless and vulnerable the modern world is without the internet, cellular networks and electricity?

Years ago, we never knew any different, particularly in rural areas. Scores of people throughout the world still live this way. Would I now find it hard to go for or days without internet access or a few hours without a power source?

Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

GOING OFFLINE and OFF GRID

Feeling determined to reject the confining chains of modern society, and re-acquaint with my inner hippie, I decided to experiment with a personal challenge to go OFFLINE and OFF-GRID – ie. voluntarily go with out power and technology for a day.

As soon as the challenge began, I was having problems.

I needed a phone number to call a tradesmen so instead of searching the net for the phone number, I tried to look it up in the phone book. No luck there as the hard copy of our phone book was not only out of date, it was buried in the darkest recesses of the junk cupboard, never to seen again.

Instead, I thought to do some holiday planning… Nope: that didn’t work as I needed to look up accommodation venues on the net.

I decided to continue with my genealogical research and reading, only I needed census information and names to cross-check details and dates.

Forget that –  I will make a nice meal/dessert if only the oven would work without power.

For food: I kept the refrigerator on but tried to eat food from the pantry that did not require refrigeration.

Make a cup of tea? – How would I do that?

Perhaps I could chat to the neighbour? No luck there either, as she’d gone out somewhere or was already asleep. This was not going well.

Watch some TV? Nope! Wasn’t possible.

Do some sewing/embroidery craft hobbies/ paint/fix something. Not enough light after 6pm.

Read a book or write in my journal?

YES!- I could do that – but it was night-time. And who can see by candlelight once you are past the age of 40?

Only one thing left for my other half and me to do, I guess. Go to sleep.

No wonder people had so many children before the advent of electricity.

Our reliance on energy and connectivity is obvious.

Could you take the challenge to go powerless for a day?

Earth Hour March 27

The Earth Hour initiative began in Sydney in 2007 by WWF and is now an annual worldwide environmental event.

Held every year on the last Saturday of March, Earth Hour engages millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories, switching off their lights to show support for our planet. 

But Earth Hour goes far beyond the symbolic action of switching off – it has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people and collective action. 

Earth Hour is open-source and we welcome everyone, anyone, to take part and help amplify our mission to unite people to protect our planet.

https://www.earthhour.org/our-mission

Switch off your lights for an hour on Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 8:30 pm your local time.

Take up the challenge to Go OFFLINE and OFF GRID

For 12 hours:

  • Turn off your mobile phone
  • Turn off or refuse to use powered appliances.
  • Blog about your experience.

It is not as easy as you think.

#SwitchforNature

“Take part in the Digital switch off” in 2021

The Earth Hour global organizing team is recommending all individuals to take part digitally when possible, and to wear a mask and follow local guidelines if you are planning to be in a public space or are thinking of spending the ‘Hour,’ with friends and family, outside your home.

https://www.earthhour.org/take-part

 David Attenborough speaks on Climate Change

Watch Greta Thunberg introduce one of our biggest allies against climate change

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74 thoughts on “Reliance on Power and Technology”

  1. Amanda, I was just thinking the other day how we would tell people we were running late back in the early 1980s. You would call in advance, pull over at a phone booth or just be late. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Amanda, for the better and worse, at times, with this too connected business. I can attest to how far a car can travel when the driver is distracted by a text. Thank goodness for brakes and remembering to not do that again. Keith

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I feel sure that texting is to blame for many accidents, Keith. Our brains find screens attractive, engaging and addictive. But we have common sense and yes, 100% focus on driving the car.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Wow 😍 really this bring back memories when i can’t find my late friend i be going to where we normally play and guess what i meet him in one of the spots but this smart phone is really helpful this days you don’t need to stress yourself for location

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up in the days when the average household didn’t even have phones, so I couldn’t call my friends if they didn’t turn up. We wrote a lot of letters, some of which I still have and which are lovely to re-read, not like emails. My grandparents farm had no inside toilet and in fact, the outside one left a lot to be desired and I hated having to use it. I appreciate all the good things we have today, central heating being possibly the best. I remember sitting huddled around the fire in the living room in my early married days, and my husband having to bring in the coal from the coal-house before work, riddling out the fire before re-lighting it. They certainly were no the good old days!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There are lots of things in the past, Mari, that we don’t recall so fondly, nostalgic feelings or not. Having an inside toilet is a luxury of first world countries and when I hear people complain about the lockdown, we can chuckle and think of those times when the toilet was down the bottom of the back yard and you had to traipse through rain, cold or perhaps snow to get there. It puts things in perspective.
      I grew up without a phone until I was 12 years old and even when I rented a house in my late teens, the landlord had only just had the hot water connected! The toilet was downstairs under the house (which was not enclosed). It certainly was a disincentive to go outside and down the stairs in the middle of the night! So I can understand what you are saying.
      We have much to be grateful for.
      Your point about the emails is valid too. They don’t have the same warm and fuzzy feelings that a handwritten letter and card gives one. Even years after they were sent. It makes me want to write more letters again. There are penpal groups centred around such activity, I believe. Do you still write letters?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Living most of my life in Vermont, we often have no-power days! While we seldom lose electricity in the village I currently live in, our last home in the mountains would sometimes lose power for four or five days until it was restored. Because we expected this, we had a means to keep warm (wood stove and gas fireplace) to cook (gas stove) and to get water (an overflow on our artesian well). We also had a crank up/solar radio so we could listen to music and news. We actually enjoyed these snow days, although we were also relieved to have the power back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can imagine that it feels rather like a kind of break from the pressures and stimulus of media and society to be up in the mountains off the grid, either voluntarily or involuntarily, for short periods. It is similar to the Norwegian traditions of visiting their rustic mountain cabins (hytte). In a hytte there is no running water, you collect that from a nearby spring, and you eat simple rustic meals and spend your day outdoors in the snow skiing or hiking. You might even be without power. It is considered therapeutic!
      I can also relate to the relief at getting all the modern conveniences back, afterwards. It is good to frame our mind to appreciate these things and spend time away from modern influences, to gain a fresh perspective on life. I am grateful for modern life but I do like being off grid sometimes.

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      1. I love the idea of the hytt! It reminds me a little of our “deer camps” in hunting season, which are often more about unplugging and enjoying each other’s company and eating tons of food than hunting. However, it’s usually the men that participate. Perhaps they’ve been hiding the real reason they go!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve not tried to go completely without power for any length of time, at least not voluntarily. We had a power cut at home some years ago on a chilly November evening, lasting some hours. Our solution? Go to the local pub, thankfully outside the area experiencing the outage, where we found warmth, light, food and drink 🙂

    But I did have to go without internet and phone connections for several weeks on our North Korea trip in 2019. It was less of an issue than I’d expected. I did miss staying in touch with friends on Facebook, sharing photos and experiences as I travelled, but I knew I could do that when I got home. I would have liked to have to have been able to WhatsApp my sister from time to time to tell her all was well. But apart from that I didn’t miss it. Our days were full with little downtime apart from an hour or so before bed which I used to sort my photos and journal my experiences and impressions. But if you made me go without for that long at home I think I would find it very tough indeed, and never more so than at the moment with COVID restricting ‘face to face’ social interactions and leisure activities so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess Covid throws an extra layer of difficulty on the regular earth hour. Emotionally, it might be too tough to forgo other privileges of the modern world when you are not coping with limitations of other freedoms. As the internet is what gives us the connections we might normally derive from social and family socialising.
      Yet when travelling, as you found in North Korea, it is not to much of an issue and I do like being away from social media and retreating to the inner world a handwritten journal offers. The simple pleasures of describing in words that are slowly written and formed. It certainly puts a different slant on my writing. Did you find that?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I didn’t hand-write actually! I had my small tablet with me and wrote in One Note each evening. Of course I couldn’t sync without internet but I did so when I got home and then all my notes were available to me on my computer to use for blog posts (I journalled the whole trip day by day on TravellersPoint), photo ID etc.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Not really – it’s mainly a blogging site, purely focused on travelling, but also with a travel wiki and forum. The latter is a bit like VT used to have but less active. When VT closed the owner of TP, Peter, developed a programme to automatically transfer our content there if we wanted to, and several of us did. But although the photos transferred quite well, the reviews were less successful because there was nowhere on TP to host reviews, it isn’t structured like that. Peter has since added a review function but it’s very little used. By the time he did so I’d got much more into blogging rather than reviewing and I knew my VT reviews would be very out of date and need a lot of editing before I could make them public so I’ve never bothered. Luckily I had most of them saved as Word documents so I’ve been harvesting those and my TP blogs to create content here. I’ll probably keep TP going as a travel journal, whereas here I like to create more themed posts / photo-heavy ones / commentaries etc. Plus the challenges of course 🙂

            If you’re curious, my TP blog is here: https://toonsarah.travellerspoint.com/

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Excellent summary, Sarah. Thanks. I feel a bit disappointed that I didn’t explore some of these apps/sites more when I’ve travelled in the past. I tended to be too busy to look at them much whilst I was away. Trip advisor was for when I got home. I like that you have this a a source of inspiration to write about in your blog. I stil use my hard copies of diaries as reference.

              Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve lived a few days without any electricity when storms have taken down the lines. It was difficult and made me aware of how grateful I am for it. I’m glad you mentioned Earth Hour. I’d forgotten about it. I can easily live for one hour without any electricity or cell phones. Longer when it comes to cell phones.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! Ally. We can easily live without it for one hour, can’t we? Yet some individuals can’t and that might be something they might consider a bit more! Earth hour certainly makes us appreciate things that we ordinarily take for granted.

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  6. Now LISTEN ! .. I was born in ’43, and the war didn’t finish for another 2 years. There has been refriigeration for my whole life – just not always with ice-blocks acessible from the door. I worked from 1961 to 2002 and an employee or a contractor and from 2007 to around 2012 as a freelance editor, and could eaily have done the lot without a mobile. In fact, I use the bloody thing even now only for calls and texts: the Internet I access from my laptop. That’s what I can’t do without – the Internet; and it’s why I’m very happy living on my own and a very long way from a single personal friend. I’m a happy reclusive curmudgeon with the Internet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The internet can be a lifeline for many solitary dwellers who seek company, M-R. I think it is a great asset for the elderly, and for older people such as yourself. Loneliness can be a dreadful curse for many elders and if the internet prevents unhappiness in that respect, it has done society a big service. There are lots of good things about the internet, fun friendships you may have never had, an antidote to loneliness, sadness and despair and an excellent learning tool that eliminates ability and geographical barriers. But there is a dark side too. They are just now talking on RN about internet porn and how that has affected the rising misogyny that is the topic of every news service atm. There is cyberbullying and cyber crime and all the bad things too. But for now, we will focus on the good, and if you can be without the internet for an hour – bravo. If you can do a whole day, which I try to as it improves my concentration levels, even better. For a whole week, you are a champion. We are stuck with technology now, like it or lump it.
      Still it is fun to remember living without it too – when we were both young.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah Janis, the temptation to take photos of one’s feet at the beach was too much. (I think I have one of those but not at the beach). I am just glad I have the perspective of knowing and enjoying what life was life on the beach prior to the advent of smartphones. I am not sure what the parents of today will remember about their children playing on the sand. It is a bit sad but it is our society and the steam roller can not be stopped.

      Like

  7. I applaud your experiment and smiled at your conclusion (i.e. why people had so many children). To answer your question, I would love to think I could go without electricity for 24 hours – but that would be a lot of reading, eating from the pantry and (by hand) housecleaning!! Thank you for another thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of reading, Donna? That sounds quite blissful, doesn’t it? Like something we might do on a tropical island hideaway. Only there is no tropical island!

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  8. When we first moved here, we didn’t have electricity for quite a while.
    We had kerosene lamps and candles at night, a kerosene fridge to keep things cool in the sub-tropical heat. A camping 2 burner stove for Summer and in Winter a fuel stove. Yes light a fire in the fire box to cook and also warm the “house”. The Anzac Biscuits I used to make were delish.
    To heat water, we had a 40 gallon water storage tank on top of a fire box. I was still using that hot water system until late last year after I had solar hot water installed.
    We had a telephone finally connected when we complained that we had a 6 month old baby and they strung wires through the bush from the nearest connection point. I have an almost up to date phone book 2018.
    When I needed to use power tools to build, we had a petrol generator.
    Yes we did lead an idealised hippie lifestyle and to a lot of people I still do but with all the mod-cons 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brian! Sounds like you had to rough it to start off with, and ironically such a life is what people willingly do on a bush or camping holiday to get respite from the city.
      You can feel satisfied in being off the grid, albeit with internet available!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It wasn’t all that rough Amanda. Just made it comfortable and had lots of support from neighbours and friends.
        It certainly felt like the pioneer spirit was alive as we cleared the land to build. The one thing I did forget was the dunny. I three dug holes in a enclosed shelter. When they were full, I’d go back to the oldest and dig it out and use it for compost on the garden.
        The power was connected within 12 months from memory.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You are a good Hippie! I had dreams of buying a bushblock and living a sustainable lifestyle in my twenties and did buy a bushblock with an ex at Billen cliffs near Lismore but never lived on it. You have lived the dream, Brian. Well done. My dream was never realized. Its so good to hear the country folk were friendly and supportive. That makes a world of difference.
          As for manure compost – your soil must be well enriched! Did you grow veges too?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Lucky you didn’t live at Billen Cliffs. It has a weird vibe. Used to grow veges but the wildlife liked them more even if it wasn’t ready for us to eat. I built the “Fort Knox” of vege gardens but the possums still got in. Some of those old gardens are gone now but yes the soil was enriched 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Possums are sneaky creatures. Smart and cunning! As for Billen Cliffs, I don’t and didn’t ever have a good impression. I sold my block in 1989. What is the development like now?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. When I sold it, there was a lot of new Australian immigrants from Germany moving in to pursue an alternative lifestyle and large Teepee like tents as living quarters.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Letters! We did write a lot of letters in those days, Alison. I used to have a book of postage stamps at home, so I could post the letters in the mailbox near our house. I even knew the time the letters would be collected by Australia post! I do not have a clue when they are collected now.

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  9. While I can easily imagine going off phone, even off internet for a day, going without power is impossible.. The city once had a catastrophic blackout which paralyzed busineses, public transit, schools, etc. It was winter so people were using candles for both light and warmth. Luckilly it was only the downtown proper that was affected and folks could escape to the suburbs. It was very eerie to see the city in blackness though. We dont realise how much we depend on perpetual light in the city untill its all turned off.

    So far as phones go, before my ‘smartphone’ I used to have all my contacts in my head. Now I barely remember my own number ;-).

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    1. Isn’t it amazing how we remembered 8 or 9 digit numbers- the old residential fixed-line phone numbers that we used to hand dial, but smartphone numbers, listed as contacts or on speed dial, in place of a 10 digit number is never remembered?
      Technology makes more and more things easy and comfortable for us every day and in doing so, we lose skills!
      Having said that, winter in a very cold country without the reliance of regular power and or technology makes living precarious. That gives us an entirely different perspective on our reliance. It is scary how reliant we are, but critical that we are reliant! Thanks for reminding me about the importance of having backups particularly in less ideal climates, Sandy.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My wife and I have been considering gaining some basic abilities lost to the modern person. Moved to the country, planning to get goats and chickens soon, planted a modest veggie garden, etc. I’m not abandoning technology, but I think it is important to be able to function without many of the things we take for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is most admirable that you feel a yearning to get back to agricultural roots. I felt similarly in my youth. Sustainability is a wonderful thing to do for the planet and to teach your children. There is a whole movement of doomsday preppers doing similar things however their motivation might come from fear. I prefer your motivation to be independent, to leave a small carbon footprint and tread lightly on the earth.

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  11. I’m not a fan of the good old days most of the time either. But the lack of technology gave more people jobs. That’s what part of the problem is these days. More people, less jobs. I love my electricity and devices. Have had plenty of opportunity to go without several times this year especially during the ice storm. We had power outages in the mountains when I lived there as well. My mother was on full time oxygen and the concentrator shut down at 4:00 a.m. Fortunately she had a mature exchange student living with her that hooked her up to her portable until the power came back on. These are things we don’t think about for the most part. I’m quite frugal with my power and devices but when I could not sleep last night, I lay in the dark and finished a marvelous book written by a fellow blogger without turning on lights as my tablet saw me through. I think all the hours we were without certainly has made me very more grateful for every little convenience we have. It’s like turning on the faucet and seeing water come out. Everyday I’m grateful. I have lived without that too. An hour is a piece of cake. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Marlene, it is sobering to remember how many things we take for granted. Turning on a light in the dark, hot water or even cold water coming from a tap. Heating up food in a microwave in the blink of an eye. Flushing toilets! We are so blessed in the last 100 years, aren’t we? What progress we made with modern conveniences. And now with the internet and live streaming services. Spoiled almost. I am glad you were able to utilize the tablet in the dark night. Not being able to sleep is frustrating but you found a way to make good use of it. Do you use audio books at all? There are a number of free services online I believe. My M-i-l uses that in the middle of the night when she cannot sleep or talkback radio – which can be hair raising sometimes….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have listened to a lot of audible but I’ve found that doesn’t help me relax back to sleep the way actual reading does. I listen to books on headphones when I am sewing so as not to disturb my daughter in the next room and so I can actually hear over the machine. I move around a lot when sewing so headphones help a lot. I do love audible and may be doing more of it as time goes by.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I keep thinking of getting into it. My aural comprehension is not so good, so I am listening to radio podcasts as a way to enhance my listening. There is a cost to audible, isn’t there?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My son keeps trying to send me links to less expensive audible. It is for the most part, not cheap. Which is why I do so little of it. I most often listen to very technical information on audible. Oddly, I absorb it better that way. Fluff is fun too when I’m working on something complicated. Not so much concentration needed. I listen to a lot of Ted talks and other things on You Tube as well.

            Liked by 1 person

  12. This was very interesting read! It’s very hard to remove yourself from technology nowadays. Do you think the millenials would survive if there were no technology?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for finding this post and commenting, Pamela. I think the millenials would not cope if the internet died for any length of time, as they have not learned to amuse themselves. They always want to reach for something to entertain them. What do you think?

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