|In Gili Trawagan, 2014. Photo by Cee Bee.
When I left for Bali in mid-January, I knew I was in for over three weeks of adventure, discovery, and fun. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would be a vacation in more ways than one.
I figured it would be difficult to update this blog on the road, so I scheduled my Fiction Friday posts in advance, and I’m so glad I did.
As our little group explored southern Bali and the island of Lombok, wifi hot spots were everywhere…or, at least, were advertised everywhere. But I soon learned that what westerners consider to be “wifi” was not what we were dealing with.
Our Internet connections were spotty at best. Typing on my little borrowed tablet was slow going, and the well-intentioned auto correct function often made it a very frustrating exercise. “I said Kyla, not Kyle, you idiot!” Just when I’d finished crafting a letter through a painstaking, hunt-and-peck process, my connection would fail and I’d lose the whole thing.
I got the message, Universe. It was time to unplug.
So I did the bare minimum. I logged on to update The Boy. These letters would also serve double-duty as my daily trip journal when I got home. Occasionally, when my Internet connection seemed very, very good, I let my mom know I wasn’t dead.
And that was it.
No browsing friends’ status updates on Facebook. No twittering or tweeting. No online auctions (although someone did manage to buy a pair of my shoes while I was away). No blogging, and no pressure to read or comment on anyone else’s blog. I couldn’t even respond to comments left on mine, and believe me, I tried.
What was this like? Did I feel disconnected or isolated, with only my best friend and the people I was meeting on the road for company? Did I miss all the online chatter?
In a word, no.
It was heaven.
It was so nice to get up in the morning without feeling like I had to respond to a million tweets, updates, and comments before I’d even brushed my teeth.
I’ve spent almost a year working with a life coach to figure out how to end my Internet addiction, and I stumbled upon the answer all by myself.
Give it up for a period of time and get busy with other things. I guarantee you won’t miss it.
Don’t get me wrong–I love using social media to stay connected with family and friends. And, in one case, I was very sorry I couldn’t be there for a friend while I was away. But, be honest–how much of your time online is used for meaningful connection? If you’re like me, you’re often distracted by links and posts and YouTube videos of fuzzy puppies. Which is all well and good if you’re in need of entertainment, but I found entertainment wasn’t lacking without it.
Give me an ocean instead of YouTube any day.
I was also isolated from the daily news. I had to hear from a fellow traveler who was keeping up with Facebook that Phillip Seymour Hoffman had died. (And that fifty percent were mourning his loss on Facebook, while the other fifty percent were complaining about how much attention his death was getting. Typical.)
But being out of the loop was a gift too. For one moment in my over-informed, over-analytical, over-communicative life, I was giving myself permission to live in the moment and shut the fuck up.
I highly recommend it.