Walking around campus, it is evident that technology consumes our lives. Students walk to class and text message at the same time. People cannot go one hour without checking their e-mail. A typical conversation around campus somehow includes the phrase “I didn’t hear it from the person, but it’s on Facebook.”When did the population become attached to technology? How have people become so reliant on these mediums? Is there any way to cut back on the usage of these products? The answer: “The Happy Medium: One Day Without Text.”
“One Day Without Text” is a project that is happening on Friday, Apr. 10 from midnight to 11:59 p.m. The project asks the participants to not use AOL Instant Messager, Facebook, e-mail and text messaging as a way of communicating, but rather call a person to talk or physically visit someone.
“The purpose of the project is to call attention to the reliances on those mediums, but also to try to restore personal interaction and verbal communication within the West Chester University community,” third-year student and leader of the project Nicole Fortuna said. “This is a good way to see where relationships stand.”
Fortuna thought of the idea for “One Day Without Text” while contemplating her senior project. Being a member of the core program of the Honors College at WCU, students have to complete a service learning project. She initially wanted to do her project on the recording of language, but a conversation with Maggie Tripp and a trip to Starbucks changed her mind.
“Last semester, I spoke with Maggie Tripp, and we discussed the overwhelming number of e-mail messages that are sent and received,” Fortuna said. “After talking to her, I went to Starbucks and was in a text message argument with someone. I thought to myself, ‘we need a day without communication like this.’ Then, the idea came to me, and I went home to write up my proposal of the project.”
After writing the proposal, she presented it to Professor Victoria Tischio. She helped with figuring out the final terms of the project.
“I think Nicole’s ‘Day Without Text’ is a brave project that can help us all take some time to remember and reevaluate the benefits of face-to-face interaction,” Tischio stated. “Often, out of a desire to be efficient, we text or e-mail others rather than speaking face-to-face without stopping to think about the consequences of this approach, especially in terms of how it might erode the community. ‘The Happy Medium: A Day Without Text’ could help us reconnect with each other on a more human and more personal level. I’m looking forward to it.”
Advertising for the project has been difficult. Fortuna is not allowed to use the outlined mediums to advertise, so it has been hard to figure out ways to get the word out. She has to use display tables in Sykes Student Union to ask students, faculty and staff to sign the pledge to participate. She has also advertised in classes, posted flyers in Sykes and spoken at student organization meetings. Some of the groups are Student Government Association, Inter-Greek Council, University Dance Company and various sororities.
Her goal is 300 signatures, and currently, she has 259. When a person signs the pledge, s/he puts down his/her name and phone number, and on Thursday, Apr. 9, she will be contacted by Fortuna or one of the members of her team to remind about “One Day Without a Text.” “My team consists of six people who help in spreading the word and in making calls the night before the event,” Fortuna said.
“Nicole’s project has been somewhat of a challenge,” team member RJ Wasylyk said. “Texting and Facebook are important to a lot of people, and some of them aren’t willing to give it up. But most of the people we talk to sign up, even if they are a little hesitant at first. We will definitely meet Nicole’s goal of 300 signatures, and hopefully surpass it. It’s going to be a good experience for everyone involved. We’ll have to make some extra effort, and it’ll be interesting to see how everyone responds to that.”
According to Fortuna, people have been fired up about the project. The phrase “I could never do that; that’s impossible” is one that Fortuna heard many times while explaining the idea to others.
“I know it is hard, especially for those people who rely on e-mail for work,” she said. “I am guilty of texting, being attached to my e-mail and checking Facebook, so this is hard for me, too.”
After Apr. 10, Fortuna plans on having post-experiment surveys available in Sykes at the Information Desk. The survey is designed to evaluate the experiences. It is a social experiment that is research-based.
If a person is interested on finding out more information about the experiment or would like to sign the pledge, there will be a display table in Sykes on Tuesday, Apr. 7 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Amanda Tingle is a fourth-year student majoring in Secondary English Education with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at AT610629@wcupa.edu.