A few months ago, our Wi-Fi died and we were without Internet or television for 36 hours. Yes, that includes Netflix. I’m at the age where I really cannot see anything up close and only use my phone browser in an absolute pinch. And the kids do not have data plans.
It was like we were in an episode of Survivor, only with a fully stocked kitchen and better plumbing.
The kids did not know quite what to do. To this generation, Wi-Fi is like oxygen and they cannot imagine a world where it isn’t available all the time. Internet is, after all, considered a basic human right.
Even I found it hard. I’m a blogger. I read the Bible on my phone and rely on email to deliver daily devotional readings to my inbox. Plus, Instagram and Pinterest are amazing.
Once the kids realized that there really was no signal, they looked for things to do. They went outside and played badminton with the net I optimistically strung in the yard. They went for a walk, albeit to see if they could pick up a signal somewhere else.
They played videogames with each other instead of with people online. And when it was time to go to their swimming lessons, there was not a single complaint. I was feeling truly excited until I realized their lack of complaining had less to do with a sea change in attitude and more to do with the fact that the building where the pool is located has free Wi-Fi.
In general, I found a lot of benefits to living off the grid. Here were some of the major ones:
- Protection from the Constant Stream of Bad News. I find the news upsetting, and it’s hard to avoid online. Whether it’s ambient awareness from one’s Twitter feed or trending items on Facebook, reports of humankind’s ill treatment of one another seem impossible to avoid. Unless Wi-Fi is down, of course.
- Increased Productivity. I’m in the middle of writing a novel, which means I’ve become an expert in the art of procrastination. Without Wi-Fi, I could not click on Stars Without Makeup or Stars With Cellulite or You Won’t Believe How These Child Stars Aged. I could not fall down the rabbit hole of reading article after article under the guise of “research for my book.” I had no emails telling me about 30% off sales or free shipping and therefore did not spend time surfing the online stores. Instead, I sat in my chair, fired up my word processor, and worked.
- No Access to Social Media. While I am drawn to Instagram and Pinterest, I know that they both create wants for things I never knew existed. I know that people who read Facebook a lot are less happy than those who don’t, but it’s hard to disconnect. I could feel my mood improving with each hour I was offline.
- More Sleep. Everyone went to bed early because there was nothing better to do. The next morning we were much more cheerful since, apparently, a good night’s sleep boosts one’s mood.
36 hours without Internet revealed the huge role it now plays in our lives. When the cable guy came to restore it, part of me wanted to hug him for returning our lives to normal. Part of me wanted to shout at him for taking away a precious gift.
My first impulse was to vow to use the Internet differently going forward. Taking the advice in Proverbs 4:23 to “guard your heart,” I now use social media much more judiciously. I’ve vowed to find a way to lessen the role of technology on our lives and spend more time unplugged.
But first, I need to do some research on how to do this… on the Internet.