A sudden flash and everything went. Disappeared. For a brief moment, it seemed like I was dead, perhaps from a heart attack or nuclear holocaust. But in reality , it was far worse; the power was out.
As the television slipped into unconsciousness and the comfortable whirr of my computer sank like a ship, I too felt some degree of mechanical failure. The world seemed to abruptly stop, as every form of entertainment/distraction available to me became redundant within the blink of an eye. My house was now empty.
More disheartening, though, was the sight beheld once I opened the curtains; a Shetland December.
Pitch-black at five in the afternoon, made worse by the desolate country roads, too bare for street-lights to be worth installation. Both of my parents were out working late, and the snow-plagued ground made the prospect of walking to a friend or relative's house unfeasible. I was completely alone, isolated, trapped in my foxhole.
I slumped onto the couch and let out a disgruntled moan like a castrated bull. I could feel time working against me. Every passing tick of the wall-mounted clock seemed to grow louder and louder, screaming in my face, taunting me like a schoolyard thug. I could feel the heavy clanking bore deep into my brain.
A few minutes of this torture was all I could take, as my fury got the better of me, and I tore my tormentor from its perch and disembowelled it of its batteries. Now I didn't even have the clock to keep me company.
The room was now overcome with an near impossible silence, unachievable in any situation other than a powercut. Every tiny, insignificant iota of a sound was now amplified, exaggerated beyond belief. Every creaking floorboard, rattling door or dripping tap seemed like a warning of the imminent approach of dangers and villains which I've only ever met in my nightmares. I was on the edge.
BZZT! The vibration of my phone pulsing through the coffee table snapped me out of my daze. Of course! The sudden sense of realisation slapped me in the face: you're never alone with a mobile phone! I eagerly exchanged pleasantries with a friend stuck in the same situation, briefly relieving me of my desperate boredom. However, my contentment was short-lived and my bubble of safety shattered when I noticed the quickly reddening battery graphic in the corner of the screen. It was getting late, my mobile needed its sleep.
After that lovely but short- lived interlude, I was once again trapped with nothing but my thoughts. A dark silence gripped the room, and subsequent paranoia crept through me like a parasite. I was convinced something was lurking in the shadows, just waiting for me to let my guard down. Growing accustomed to the lack of light, my eyes bounced around my surroundings like erratic fleas. My heart screamed and limbs trembled. As far as I was concerned, this was no longer my house. It was the wretched cottage of death and desolation I had seen in countless horror films. And I was trapped inside, suffocated by isolation.
The blackout that night lasted about an hour. I was forced to spend an hour of my life alone and without modern technology, and it nearly killed me. I was absolutely desperate for my gadget fix. It's an addiction, and I'm on the lower end of the scale. I don't have a HD3DLED4G television, a beautiful, state of the art immersive gaming system, or a top of the line smart phone with more useless functions than a Swiss army knife. It's those people I feel sorry for. They need help. If their wi-fi goes down, who knows what kind of pain and destruction their wrath could incur.
Technology obsession is a serious problem, not only for your mental wellbeing; there are social implications too. If, when with your friends, you reach into your pocket and pull out a third-generation iPod touch (I think they're on the fifth?) you are in grave danger of being ostracised out of your social group, or at least systematically mocked until you update your toy. The popular and powerful majority feel compelled to force their twisted views down the throats of those of us who simply don't care. It's the new religion.
But, for many people, their habit stems not only from peer pressure, but from a knee-jerk compulsion to own the newest, shiniest and most expensive electricity guzzler on the market. It's an addiction, and it's destroying us.
But who am I to judge? I still have nightmares about that cripplingly dull evening, and a niggling fear that one day every appliance will just stop working, and my life would be empty. Sure, I could read a book, or take up the piano or compose a beautiful oil painting by candle- light, but that's not me. I'm a slave to the screen. A gadget fanatic. A technolojunkie.
And, I bet you're no different. Ever had a mental breakdown after realising you've left your mobile at home? Ever found yourself screaming at your laptop screen because iPlayer won't let you watch last night's Eastenders? Ever spent seven hours on hold to an Indian call centre because your TV screen's looking a little oversaturated? No? Well, I envy you.
I adore technology, television especially. It's my life and I would be lost without it. If I had to choose between gadgetry and food, I would pick gadgetry. Maybe, I could eat the dead batteries.
In retrospect, the powercut should have changed my views on technology. I should have learned not to spend so long in front of a screen. I should have realised that there's more to life than novelty trinkets. I should have left the TV off after the power came back on. But I didn't. The second I pressed the 'on' button, my fate as forever being a mindless technolojunkie was forever ceiled. But if anyone asks, I'm not an addict. I don't have a problem. I can give up any time I want. Honest.
© Copyright 2016 Struan. All rights reserved.
Essay / Editorial and Opinion
Essay / Religion and Spirituality
Short Story / Literary Fiction
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