The UnThing Experiment

Your challenge is to give something up to discover something new.

Our team gave up Smartphones while traveling to Orlando to shoot the Lesson 5 video:

Weezy Waiter also has some fantastic videos of doing various “UnThing” experiments and offering his funny yet pertinent insights:


1. Give something up – some key technology – such as:

  • Shoes
  • Chairs
  • Mirrors
  • Cars
  • Electricity

Or try giving up some form of virtual communication platform for at least 48 hours, and potentially a week or more.

  • Acceptable: Give up a significant virtual communications channel that you use frequently (Snapchat, Facebook, texting, etc.)
  • Good: No mobile device – but still using laptops and desktops
  • Pro: No imagery (No videos, TV, or images) Use wizmage on Chrome to block images
  • All-Pro: No Internet
  • Awesome: No digital technology whatsoever (no internet, TV, etc.)
  • Crazy Awesome: No powered objects whatsoever (no electricity, gas, etc.)

2. Keep a daily diary (on Instagram, unless you have given that up!), reflecting on the following:

  • What do you miss about using the thing?
  • What have you gained by not using it?
  • How have you changed? Any insights? Do you see the world or other people any differently?

To get to the right insight, do not just think about how “inconvenient” it was to go without it.  Think about what has been lost by having the technology.  How has the technology changed you or our society?  How could you or our society be different without it?  For example, chairs seem like a great convenience only because you are adapted to them.  My friends in New Guinea don’t have chairs and do not want them.  Why?  Because they have bodies that are comfortable in a flat footed squat for hours at a time.  We invented the chair, but in doing so we gave up our ability to squat.  Also consider how technologies transform our entire society.  Read back through the book to review.  For example, remember the car and how it transformed our cities into sprawling suburbs that are no longer walkable, making the car almost a necessity.  How have our technologies transformed our society, our bodies, and our selves?

3. You should continue the experiment until you have some significant results. (Extend the time frame or move up a level if you do not have any significant insights yet.)

4. Use your insights to reflect on the key lesson: “We create our tools and then our tools create us.”  Your final Instagram post should be a reflection on what you learned.  Use #anth101 #anth101challenge5 #yourgroup

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