Rita de Brun, but worse — they’ll also do without technology


Out of Service: Enniscorthy students’ phoneless 48 hours

In an ambitious experiment, an Enniscorthy class will spend this weekend without heat and water, says Rita de Brun, but worse — they’ll also do without technology

Out of Service: Enniscorthy students’ phoneless 48 hours

HOW would you feel if you couldn’t use your phone for a day? Frustrated? Try two days. What if it was within your grasp where you could not only see it, but hear every call, notification and alert coming in? What if along with your phone, all of your devices and gadgets were off limits, rendering you technologically ‘out of service? ‘

Chances are that’s something you’re unlikely to try. But twenty-two Media Production students from Enniscorthy Vocational College are determined to do just that when they participate in a 48-hour, ‘Out of Service’ experiment this weekend.

For the duration, they’ll be holed up together — Big Brother style — and asked to survive, not only without technology, but without electricity. To add to the challenge they’ll be asked to build a fire outside, without matches and lighters. If they can’t manage that, they’ll be cold, hungry and cranky, as the fire will be their only way of boiling water, cooking food and lighting cigarettes.

If that may be hellish for them, it’ll be entertainment for others, as their responses will be documented by Roisin Williams and a team from South East Television.

As to why the students have agreed to embrace such obvious hardship, their class tutor, Liam Sharkey says their goal is to generate awareness for the Media Production course at Enniscorthy VC. “We have a link with a university in Wales and next year 15 of our PLC students will be going on to study there,” he says proudly. “That’s a great achievement and we want to get that message across.”

If the supportive students are hoping their tutor will return the favour, they’ll be bitterly disappointed. “My role is to annoy the heart and soul out of them,” he explains.

How does he think they’ll cope? “Not having their phones will be tough, but that’ll only be part of it, as the entire experience will be made as difficult as possible for them. Their phones will be left where they can hear them ringing, so there will be great temptation for them to reach out and take them.”

Isn’t that needlessly cruel? “Call it the teacher’s revenge,” he says — entirely in jest.

One student who won’t be suffering withdrawal symptoms from the dearth of technology is Anne McLoughlin, who at ‘forty-something,’ is the eldest in the class: “I rarely watch TV,” she says. “I use my phone for calls and texts only, and while I have a computer, I don’t have internet at home.”

What part of the challenge is she most dreading? “The cold,” she replies. “We’ll have no electricity and the fire will be outside, so I’m assuming it’ll be chilly indoors.”

It might be chillier than imagined, as according to locals, the ghost of a young girl was once seen at the site where the students are gathering. “It’s going to be so spooky, as members of the Wexford Paranormal Society will be investigating while we’re there,” she says.

One who’s unlikely to become irritable, but who admits she’ll find it tough, is Chloe Nolan (19): “I always carry my phone with me, so if I had to do without it for an hour, I’d go a bit mad,” she laughs.

We can only hope she doesn’t do that when she’s anywhere near classmate, Michael O’Gorman (19). How does he think the class will cope without technology? “It might be rough, as last week when our computers went down for ten minutes, there was little or no conversation and everyone sat around looking at one another with bored expressions.”


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