While hundreds of students walked by with their hands glued to their phones Saturday, others chose to [dis]connect for a picnic with their friends on College Green.
Penn [Dis]Connects was a one-day movement encouraging Penn students to disconnect from their phones and computers for the day and instead spend time connecting with friends face-to-face.
The organizers provided live music by inviting Slow Dance Chubby, a Penn rock band, and gave out picnic blankets and disposable cameras for attendees to combat “Instagram withdraw[al].” The organizers also set up a website beforehand where people could sign up and pledge to join the movement. It built up to a potluck picnic in the evening.
A few of the five organizers already knew each other beforehand, while some simply overheard a mutual friend talking about the idea and came together to plan this event.
“If there is one word I can use to describe the process, I would say ‘organic,’” Co-organizer and College sophomore Joyce Kim said.
Gearing up to the picnic, she and a few other organizers disconnected from all forms of technology, and spent the day biking to the Morris Arboretum. Having gone without a phone for most of the day, Kim said that “it feels liberating, and at the same time it feels very strange.”
Co-organizer and College sophomore Aaron Wilson believes that this “is an experience you have to create for yourself.” The picnic cost very little to put together, which reflected the “whole idea [of] the absence of something,” he said.
The attendees heard about the event through different channels, but all came together with the wish to disconnect from technology.
Engineering freshman Ray Lei was simply passing by on Locust Walk when he noticed the event. He decided to join on a whim “because I want to be disconnected.”
For Brian Mund, College junior and former Daily Pennsylvanian contributing writer, it was an easy task to disconnect from technology. Mund, who observes Sabbath, typically turns off his cell phone from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown every week.
“It’s great … to take a break, and it’s great for the whole campus to experience it as well,” he said.
“It’s really nice to just be able to speak to people,” College and Wharton junior and Undergraduate Assembly president Abe Sutton said.
Ultimately, Wilson feels like this is an idea that resonates with people once it is put out there.”
“The idea of doing this just needs to be planted into people’s heads, and people are like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome.’”
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