It started out of laziness. I didn’t want to call the internet company.
And so a week went by.
Finally, I did call. I spoke with a kind woman from somewhere across the ocean who informed me that my address wasn’t showing up in their system.
So I gave up.
I could have investigated further, but after the first few days of living without internet, I wondered if maybe I didn’t really need it after all.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
My biggest hesitation about getting Wi-Fi was that I knew I would be tempted to stay at my new place enjoying the thousands of ways you can entertain and distract yourself online—instead of, you know, actually living.
Moving is hard. Starting over is hard. Meeting people is hard. Starting a new job is hard.
You know what’s easy? Watching The Office for three hours.
I have an unfortunate tendency of using technology as a crutch: When I’m sad, there are funny YouTube videos of old Saturday Night Live skits to watch. When I’m annoyed or frustrated, I can scroll through Facebook and read other people’s rants about politics to distract myself from my own woes. When I’m lonely, I can choose from a plethora of cheesy rom-coms to escape the discomfort of an aching heart.
It’s so darn easy.
So I decided—only partially motivated by laziness—to cut the cord (pun intended) and take a little sabbatical from my technological ways (at least while I was at home).
It was honestly one of the most freeing things in the world.
In a way, it kind of felt like being a kid again . . . when you’re only allowed to watch TV at certain times, and your parents urge you to “go play outside.” You act as if they are exiling you to Siberia—and then go outside and have an absolute ball.
That’s what it felt like.
I realized there was a whole wide world out there—unknown and a little scary, yes—but also incredibly wonderful. I ventured so many places I otherwise wouldn’t have. Just knowing I couldn’t go home and watch Michael Scott’s antics until I fell asleep motivated me to stay out and spend my afternoon exploring.
I walked the city streets, found my favorite restaurant, went to the park, sought out live music, made new friends, wrote, read, called my family, attended events where I knew next to no one, finally made some headway on that stack of books that’s been guilting me, had fruitful conversations with my roommate, chatted with strangers, went on a couple of impromptu dates, learned to sit alone in the silence . . . I lived.
Technology is a good thing. But it’s not the best thing.
Of course, there were also a lot of difficulties that came from the absence of a faithful crutch. I experienced more discomfort during those days than I had in a while. I had to face head-on all the feelings I had been hiding from behind a screen. It was not pleasant, but it was real.
The great thing, too, is that during what was roughly a month and a half of no Wi-Fi, I discovered the beauty of spending time away from screens. Which means that, even now that we do have Wi-Fi (thanks to my much more responsible roommate), I have been able to resist the temptation to fall back into my wireless habits.
Technology is a good thing. But it’s not the best thing.
The best things in life are a good kiss, a long hug, an honest conversation, a sunrise, an act of forgiveness, a hard run, a loud laugh, a loving gaze . . . those are the moments. And you don’t need Wi-Fi to experience them. In fact, Wi-Fi may prevent you from experiencing them.
If you take away anything from my time without Wi-Fi, know that your best life—the-best-version-of-yourself—exists off the web. It is not your curated photos or clever captions. It will not come in an Amazon box or make an appearance in a funny skit. This is it—and while you’re scrolling through pictures of people you hardly know and watching shows you’ve seen ten times, time is passing you by and gently bending your spine.
Life is short, friends.
I know it seems like a harmless, trivial thing, but I fear that I am losing my zest for life and opting to hide in the virtual world instead. As pretty and perfect and convenient as it may be, this world is just not real.
I also realize the irony that you are reading this online (and I’m writing this on my computer). Again, my message is not to condemn technology, but rather to encourage using it appropriately instead of excessively. In any case, I’d rather you never read another article from me again if it means you are enjoying your life and being present to each and every precious moment.
This week, I invite you into your own home, with your family and friends. Enjoy your time with them and make the most of it—you don’t have as much of it as you think you do.
The-best-version-of-yourself exists off the web. Enjoy your life and be present to each and every precious moment.
You probably have Wi-Fi, and getting rid of it may not be a feasible option. So, here are some ideas to unplug without having to call the kind woman from somewhere across the ocean to cancel your internet service.
- After my W-iFi sabbatical, I changed my phone settings so that everything displayed in black and white. This has been super helpful in my attempt to use my phone less. The chemical reaction isn’t as strong and makes it less addictive.
- During the week, I strive to leave my work computer at work. It’s one less screen to worry about, and it decreases the temptation to do things online—including “finishing up” work things that can wait.
- When I’m out with friends, I try to just leave my phone in my bag. I might take it out to take some pictures (of course everyone wants to know my every move), but I don’t just leave it out on the table if we’re eating out or getting coffee. Even facedown, it’s still a distraction. To be completely honest, this one is still pretty difficult for me—but I want to keep working on it.
- I have a designated chair in my living room and another in my bedroom with blankets and a lamp that I use for reading. Having cozy spots like this make opening a book feel more inviting and relaxing, thereby decreasing the temptation to watch a show instead.
- This may seem a bit extreme but we don’t have a television at all. I have no plans of getting one, either. We have a lovely piece of artwork on the mantle over the fireplace, and it makes me so happy every time I look at it. I wanted our living room to be a place for heartfelt conversations, hearty laughter, and shared memories—not Netflix marathons. I know this could be asking a lot . . . just think about it.
I want to live a life brimming with moments—ordinary moments with none of the curated perfection and all of the beauty this broken world has to offer. During my time without Wi-Fi, I was reminded that these moments are waiting for me, just beyond the screen in front of my face—and I suspect they there are waiting for you, too.