Loss of electricity provides new perspective


Daphne Yu

Infographic by Paige Martin

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This past summer, America lit up her national spirit and celebrated her historic revolutionary success; I spent it drowning in the darkness of fear. Unlike every other year, when I let the glow of the July 4th festivities surround me, my family and I decided to spend it in the calm quiet of my home.

As fireworks, the highlight of the evening, drew near, we collectively opted to avoid the scalding summer heat and the massive crowd gathered downtown and settled for televised fireworks instead. After all, what is there that you can’t get from the internet and television these days?

However, as the sun slowly slid down the sky and our anticipation of the Macy’s fireworks rose to a peak, our plans for the night came to an abrupt end. A little after 8 p.m., the television automatically zapped off; the restless air conditioning was suddenly silent, and the only electricity left around us was from the tension.

For the first few moments, I didn’t panic. Power outages happen a few times a year for a couple minutes at a time. No big deal. I would have passed it off as “just a power outage.” But as the battery-charged clock ticked on and the sun dipped even lower and threatened to disappear any second, my mind immediately jumped to the commercials of a new series that had plagued the television: “Revolution,” a look at a world where all electronics no longer worked after a blackout.

I was petrified. In those thousands of seconds and tens of minutes, I couldn’t help but replay the recurring theme presented in “Revolution”: What if the lights never came back on?

I was sitting in the dark with an iPod and phone on low battery. No television. No computer. No internet. I was helpless. In those few seconds, the thought occurred to me that without electricity, there was no future I could see; the present held no meaning since there was nothing to do and the past would lose all importance. If the electricity never came back on, the thousands of photos, videos and other media I had halfheartedly chronicled, telling the story of my life, would be gone.

Eventually, after more than an hour of darkness, the air conditioner hummed back to life, the lights flickered back on, and I sat in the chilled comfort of my home with my life surrounding me. I caught the very last seconds of the fireworks, and while I bemoaned missing nearly all of the fireworks, it never occurred to me I was so close to losing everything else.

I had passed through life, electronically snapshotting moments I told myself I could revisit anytime I wanted to, and the same theory applied to experiences.

This way of thinking has led me to devalue everything else in life. What did I eat for lunch, listen to on the radio on the way home from school? It’s OK, as long as I have my phone or my computer, Facebook or iPod. Things pass by and when I try to grasp the reality, I only see the mirage technology institutes.

Technology gives the impression that everything is always accessible and at the touch of our fingertips. Cell phones, computers, iPads claim to be the bank of all important things and I have given in to letting them slowly take control of the things I hold close. But when in the few seconds technology’s power dims down, the true value of everything else comes to life.
By Daphne Yu
This opinion piece is labeled as such on the desktop version.