The Offline blog chronicles the experiences of everyday folks who voluntarily unplug. Guest bloggers shut off their cellphone and log off the internet for 24 hours, then write a 500-word essay about the experience. Click here for guidelines or to submit your essay.
By STEVEN HOOPER
I never knew how plugged in I really was until just recently. This spring, I decided to see what it would be like to break from my daily routine of plugging in for 6 to 8 hours and go without my smart phone and internet access for 24 hours. Thankfully, it was a beautiful, warm day. The sun was shining, and the sky was deep blue and cloudless. I knew I could spend most of my time for this experiment outside to help distract me from the temptation of social networks and media devices.
So I spent the day ignoring text messages, phone calls and Facebook notifications, and instead went to Bernheim Forest to walk a few trails, read poems and write some poetry of my own. One path I took was through the Quiet Garden, which inspired me to write a poem. If I had been texting, I might not have caught a glimpse of a groundhog scurrying to some bushes right in front of my feet. If I had even taken a second to blink or look at my phone, I would have missed the rarely seen little critter.
Going 24 hours without texting or getting on the internet helped me to better understand my dependence on these devices for performing my daily tasks. The first few hours had me confused and a little lost. If I needed to ask a question or get a hold of someone, I realized I had to wait until after the 24-hour experiment or go see them face to face. If I needed to do research, find the definition of a word or get a correct spelling, I had to do it using books. As the experiment went on, however, I started to feel freedom, like I was truly in control of myself. I got to pay more attention to my surroundings. I wasn’t entrapped by a screen with silent and bleak posts, messages and false media reports.
While I enjoyed not letting my phone control me for those hours, there were a few who were annoyed. My daughter’s mother was one who saw my unplugging as a nuisance because I didn’t immediately answer any of her questions. The rest of my friends and family didn’t like not being able to get a hold of me when they wanted, but they understood when I explained the amount of stress unplugging gave me.
As a college student, I plan on doing this once or twice every semester so I can clear my thoughts and not think of what everyone else is thinking or doing, but what I am and need to be doing. I would suggest everyone unplug from texting, the internet and social networking at least once a month. I recommend that you at least occasionally unplug from the constant barrage of derogatory media and everyone else’s thoughts so that you can clear your own mind and open your eyes to your surroundings. You never know what wonders you could be missing that are happening right in front of your face.
Steven Hooper lives in Hillview, Kentucky, and attends Jefferson Community and Technical College.