Our entire culture nowadays is completely centered around social media.
In general, we are overly focused on our phones, and immersed in the internet.
It seems nearly impossible to be an active member of society while being completely off the grid, technology-wise, right?
I went 10 months without access to any phone, computer, or internet-capable devices, or accessing any type of social media or networking. The only exception was the use of internet for school.
When it first started out, it was unbelievably difficult. I realized that I probably had suffered from a sort of addiction, and that many people probably do, especially teenagers like me. It was nearly impossible to make friends or form relationships, and I felt constantly out of the loop and confused, like I was disconnected from the people around me.
However, I did gain some valuable wisdom and insight from this experience about myself, others, and the world.
1. What’s going on around you is so much more interesting.
Seriously. Just look up.
I drove from Michigan to Florida with only a few magazines and books to distract me, but looking out the window was more than enough entertainment. The scenery that I had never noticed before took my breath away. I listened in to more conversations at social events, I paid more attention to my surroundings, and overall became more mindful.
2. Social media is crap.
It sounds harsh, but going back online only makes me want to go back offline. I realized that my feeds were plugged up mostly with things I didn’t care about or need to know, with a few interesting things sprinkled here and there. Social media isn’t evil and it won’t kill you, but it’s definitely not a lifestyle.
3. You learn to connect with people.
Imagine that the year is 1800. Just kidding. But, I gained a lot of social skills really quickly, and had to learn to be resilient and resourceful when it came to inconvenient situations that most people would just whip out their phones for. I actually met a lot of new friends, and strengthened my already-existing friendships. When you ask for it, many people truly want to help. Lots of doors opened to me when I wasn’t closed off to the world by a device.
4. If you want to find yourself, lose your phone.
The path to self discovery does not include a link to Instagram. When I wasn’t being bombarded with images and messages of who I should be and how I should dress and act and look, I slowly started dressing and acting and being like myself. And now that I can look at those images with fresh eyes, I think it’s all pretty silly.
5. Closing down your Internet windows will open up new doors.
I am currently training to get my RYT-200 certification at age 16. But, I didn’t even start doing yoga seriously until I fell off the grid. I started painting and picked up reading again, too. Even though I couldn’t track Greenpeace or NatGeo on Instagram, I learned to appreciate the nature in my backyard, and started spending more time outside. I reconnected with what was here and now, which gave me lots of opportunities.
6. It sucks to be the only one at a table with their head up.
I don’t believe technology has any place at a table, especially a family gathering or a dinner with friends. But, there were many times at social events where I was stuck awkwardly looking around while everyone else had their necks craned over a device. It sucks. But, if you ever find yourself in this situation, say something! Start a conversation! People will put down their phones, and this can lead to bonding and altogether having a great time.
7. Communication happens best face-to-face.
It is so much easier to decipher intonation and expression when you can see faces and hear voices. The cute emoji you send might help a little bit, but it’s not as clear as talking to someone in person. There’s no substitute for a good conversation, and you can’t hug someone over text!
8. The 70s weren’t such a bad time, after all.
There are so many substitutes for technology. No GPS? Use a map. No Google search? Ask a real person! Can’t post your pics to your Facebook wall? Frame them to post on an actual wall! I also used the age-old methods of writing notes, reading magazines and books, and visiting people!
I honestly encourage everyone to go at least a week without any phone or internet-capable devices (except for emergency, of course)! If you think you couldn’t do it, give it a try. The knowledge, maturity, and skills I gained are all worth their weight in gold.
It’s never worth sacrificing the world around you just to see what’s on your screen.
The most amazing world is waiting for you, if you only look up!
Author: Jackie Spryshak
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: William Iven at Unsplash