Two years ago when I was getting ready to head off to college, my parents told me I could have a laptop. Stoked beyond all reckoning, I surfed Dell’s website to decide what model I wanted (I wasn’t even going to touch those Apples. I’m a Windows junkie through and through).

Decision: a 17-inch screen with lots of multimedia features.

Consensus: biggest mistake of my life.

The thing weighs a ton — it crushes my lap! Well, not really, but it’s extremely difficult to tote around. This is a problem, because when you’re a college student, it’s usually best to study in places that are not your room. See, your room has your bed, and naps are very, very appealing in the middle of an afternoon of homework. I have so many different places I like to study: the classrooms in ARH (you can draw on the chalkboards!), outside watching the ultimate Frisbee team on Mac Field, and in the really cool jungle gyms in the library. But I can’t take my computer to any of those places — it’s just too big.

Recently, I’ve come to terms with my computer. It’s great for watching movies, but it’s not going to write papers for me on the other side of campus. But that’s OK, because Grinnell dorms often have great little study lounges that are simply calling for some poor soul with a large computer who doesn’t want to walk far. You don’t even have to leave your building! No shoes required!

Even so, I still have to contend with comments about how my computer can be used as a lethal weapon. For instance, if I dropped it on the floor in my room on the third floor, it would fall all the way down to the basement, taking out every computer within a 10-foot radius of its trajectory. Or if I was fighting an Iowa corn-monster, I could knock it out with one swing of my laptop. If I could lift it, that is.

Ha ha, very funny guys.

In addition to friends teasing me about my mammoth computer, I’ve also been given a lot of guff about not having a cell phone. Yes, I heard your gasp, all the way from Grinnell. Yup, you heard me right. I don’t have one. I think I’m the only one of my friends who doesn’t, but really, I don’t feel any need to. Sure, it’s sometimes hard to get in touch with my friends, but really, the campus is only a few blocks long. It doesn’t take that much energy to walk around and find people. And chances are I’ll be with someone who has a phone anyway, so I just borrow theirs. Grinnell also has this sweet system where you can make as many calls as you want from any campus phone to any other. Just give your friend’s room a ring!

I know you might be horrified by the possibility of life without a cell, but I really enjoy it. If I’m off studying in the library and don’t want to be bothered, I don’t have to be — no one can call me! You know how in movies (like say, Love Actually) when there’s a really great scene going on and the girl’s just about to get the guy, or a secret is just about to be revealed, but then someone’s phone goes off …? Nope, doesn’t happen to me. It’s a type of freedom I really love.

Grinnell is great in this way — you really can live without technology if you want to. There are enough computer labs that you don’t need your own laptop, and I’ve just proven to you that you don’t need a phone. Computer labs are also a great way to meet other people on campus who live in your general vicinity. When you’re in a room together for three hours, both desperately trying to understand an assignment or finish a paper on time, you learn a lot about each other. Like personal stress relievers. My personal favorite is YouTube surfing while eating vanilla pudding. Or making hats out of the printer paper.

One last word of advice: if you do choose to buy a laptop, don’t make the same mistake I did. Buy one that’s actually portable and isn’t heavy enough to crush your vitals if you rest it on your stomach to watch a movie while you’re sick.

Molly Rideout '10 is an English major from Madison, Wisconsin.

Molly Rideout '10...

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