I have been in the States only two times. One for work, and the other one — two days later — for leisure, and I can say that I fell in love with the city. I confirmed that New York City never sleeps and where most of the streets are always illuminated. The first time I arrived to the city, I had to buy a SIM card since the Metro and the uncertainty on how to get to one place to the other was too much for me, and if I was addicted to my phone in my country, this dependence got worst after this trip.
My phone and having access to the internet and being connected at all time made me feel secure. I don’t know where the north is without looking at Google Maps or to the compass on my phone. I didn’t know where to go to eat without asking Google how to get there or what to eat. I was mesmerized by the level of accuracy of the metro and its arrival minutes, so when I read Leave the World Behind, I couldn’t believe that Clay, the main character’s husband, was unable to find his way downtown without a GPS, but I was horrified when I realized how I am as dependent to the internet and my phone when I need to know when, how, and where.
Rumman Alam’s story dives into different topics to be discussed under scrutiny, but what resonated the most with me is how hyper-connected and dependent we are with technology to the point of almost forgetting how to survive. Amanda, the main character, checked her phone obsessively to find it, time after time, with no reception. The impotence and the withdrawals of not having access to information was driving her maniacally to a frenzy.
Although I am magnifying their reaction based on my experience as an outsider, I have to applaud Alam’s prose for being able to compel such first world problems and terror as a prelude to the end of the world. The title can be taken literal since Amanda and Clay are leaving their commodities, in other worlds, the world behind. Not only the commodities of internet and information at a hand’s reach, but the omnipresence of electricity. In my New York Hotel, regardless of the hour of the day, I was able to look at the window and see people walking and blinking lights in every building. There wasn’t a difference between seven in the afternoon to two in the morning, so I cannot picture without goosebumps a total blackout in the island of Manhattan.
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