What if you decided to live one year without social media? Or for that matter, live without any electronic devices hooked up to the Internet? Could you do it?
I’m reading the book (on my Kindle), What Falls from the Sky by Esther Emery, a true story written by a young woman who decides on a whim to live an entire year without the Internet. The author explains she had become addicted to scrolling and tapping. She argued with people she didn’t know in comment threads. She had lost authentic interaction with the real world.
This made me wonder? How close am I to this addiction? After all, didn’t I overhear one of the EMTs tell Jerry to get my phone as he and his fellow firefighters hauled me out on a gurney? “Yes, Jerry, bring my phone,” I called out before being loaded into the ambulance. I added, “And my charger.”
Oh yes, who can possibly ride to the hospital while in excruciating pain and not have their phone? Not me. I asked the nurse in the hospital to plug my phone in so it would be charged and ready. She tucked the phone beside me like a favorite teddy bear, its cord winding out of it like an umbilical cord attached to the wall. I felt too groggy and hazy to use the phone but it comforted me as it rested by my side.
I admit the Internet has its advantages and conveniences, but I also agree with the author that it can overwhelm a person’s brain with unnecessary noise…Just today I had football announcements, GIFs of dancing cartoons, a video of a fawn trapped in the railing of a fence, cute dog pictures, no-bake peanut butter caramel bar recipe, and commercial ads designed to fit my writing interest (James Patterson can teach me how to write)–all blasting at me from the screen.
After coffee, I’m probably addicted to peace and quiet more than anything else. I have no problem satisfying the coffee addiction. (Slurrr-p!) But peace and quiet? Not easy at all.
Take last weekend for example. I asked a waiter if he would turn the music down so I could hear my husband. “Oh, sure,” he said and turned it down right away. I suddenly felt joy and renewed hope I won’t need a short asylum stay as the noise diminished. Maybe loud music causes people to chew faster and our waiter wanted us gone to free up our table for the next customer and tip. The music slowly and gradually cranked back up until I began screaming, “WHAT WAS THAT? HUH? WHAT DID YOU SAY, JERRY?”
As some of you know, Jerry and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary at the Creekside Inn in Sedona. We had the Honeymoon Suite overlooking Oak Creek. It rained during the night, so we couldn’t eat breakfast on our private deck due to the wet furniture. Instead, we opened the sliding glass door to get the sense of sitting outside without getting wet. We wore the fluffy bathrobes provided by the Inn while savoring coffee and warm cornbread and the beautiful, serenity of the outdoors. We had a view of the jungle canopy of trees leaning over the creek, as if they couldn’t get enough of the creek view for themselves. The sound of the creek gave a soft whoosh-whoosh as it journeyed over rocks. We heard birds chattering and exotic animal sounds transporting us to a faraway place where we connect with a natural world in peace.
As we relished the tranquility, a middle-aged woman with blond hair and grinning smile gaped into our Honeymoon Suite. “Oh. Hello,” she said. “I’m just checking things out back here.” She said this as if it’s okay to peer into a private room where people are enjoying breakfast and a view in quiet. Jerry and I felt like the exhibits of her self-imposed tour. The woman had three adults with her, although they kept their heads turned toward the creek giving us a view of the backs of their heads as we continued to sit in our robes and sip our coffee. The manager asked the curious onlookers to please depart, telling them they are on private property. As the troop headed off, the manager called to them, “Thank yoooo-ooo!”
Jerry and I attempted to get back to our peaceful nature moment, but it didn’t work… Who else wanted to observe us in our fluffy bathrobes and leer at us inside our Honeymoon Suite?
It seems no matter where I am, it’s not easy to find peace and quiet. We have leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, cats hacking and whining and spitting (at our house anyway), car engines idling, neighbors shrieking (when the Seahawks win), and phones ringing and dinging and percolating tunes all around us.
My doctor has a sign in the lobby of his office asking patients to turn off their phones. But there sits his two receptionists yakking away on their phones. What’s with that? Can’t they read the sign?
Could I go a year without the Internet? Absolutely not. I don’t want to Christmas shop at real stores. I don’t want to try to locate places using a paper map, if paper maps even still exist. I don’t want to look for a cookbook when I need a recipe. I don’t even have any cookbooks.
But am I addicted to the Internet? I don’t think so. I know for sure I can go, maybe an hour, without checking my e-mail or “liking” cute dog pictures.