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 ALICIA SKAGGS
Friends and family have told me that I have an internet addiction. Until recently, however, I did not believe them. I decided to see if what they said was true. For 24 hours, I did not connect to the internet or use my smart phone. I did not answer texts or reply to Facebook.
Luckily, I had errands to run on the day I unplugged, so I knew I would have some distractions. Since I had the entire day ahead of me, I decided to stop and treat myself to breakfast. This is where I first realized my internet addiction. I looked at the waitress when I ordered and thought to myself, “I haven’t done that in a long time.” She had a nice smile. I didn’t know, until that moment, how much I had missed having a genuine connection with people. I began watching the people around me as they engaged with friends and family. I watched a little blonde-haired boy laugh hysterically as he rolled a car off of the table and made it flip. I found myself laughing along with him. His innocence was uplifting. I would have missed that moment had I been on my phone, and I would have probably gone about my day with frustration because I had so much to do. Instead, I left the restaurant smiling and with appreciation for the little things in life.
Unplugging made me realize how many of these little things I was missing. There were some aggravations, however. I couldn’t turn off my phone completely because I have a daughter with a serious illness. So when my friend called me, I answered. I thought she was calling with a question about the previous day’s doctor visit. She wasn’t. She was calling about something of little importance. This bothered me. How dare she disturb my thoughts with that. Couldn’t she have sent a text? In addition, I had to turn down my phone’s volume to almost silent because I was getting annoyed by the message alert whistle. Every time I was in deep thought or enjoying my surroundings, that noise interrupted. I hadn’t noticed this before because I simply responded to the noise, jumping for my phone when the whistle sounded.
Since taking the challenge to unplug for 24 hours, I have decided to limit my use of the internet and texting. Although I was irked by the phone call I received that day, I discovered that I miss talking to people. You cannot replace the sound of a voice with a text message. I have decided to only text people if I am in a position where I can’t call. I also no longer answer to Facebook. I check my Facebook page once or twice a day, just long enough to catch up with my friends and family who live out of state. I have decided to live instead of respond, and I am much happier because of that decision.
Alicia Skaggs lives in Hillview, Kentucky, and is working toward a nursing degree. She plans to work in pediatric oncology/hematology.