If I could advise anyone to take some time away from the Internet, I’d say go for it. But I would also say it is nearly impossible.
I challenged myself to go a whole week without using the Internet, including no emails, SchoolLoop and (gasp) iMessage. So many people wondered how I made it through a whole week without using Google or Snapchat, but I think the real question came to be how everyone else survived without being able to contact me.
I’m the kind of person who lives on Youtube and Netflix, so I missed binge-watching “New Girl” after school and felt a real loss without my music on Spotify.
Although the initial withdrawal was tough, I found I had a good couple of hours added to my day. I realized how much time was wasted daily watching meaningless cat videos and scrolling through posts on Instagram and Facebook.
Everyone asked me how I was able to do homework if it was online. “What about SchoolLoop assignments?” I was lucky I had no projects requiring research or Google Docs. That is, until it came time to write this article… quite ironic.
I also didn’t know what my grades were at all times, a convenience we all take for granted. If I received a zero on an assignment and only had a limited amount of time to turn it in, I would have no idea. I wouldn’t be able to check what assignments were given in class if I forgot. I had to actually take notes the old-fashioned way instead of just printing them out.
I got in a lot of trouble taking time off social messaging systems. There were way more people who were affected by my challenge than I realized. I missed a club meeting during lunch where I was supposed to present a topic because the meeting times were changed and the notification was sent out using Facebook Messenger. My lab group was really pissed at me because they couldn’t contact me through texts and I wasn’t responding to their calls.
There were, however, definitely some major upsides to living the modern hermit life. I put more effort into homework and improved my studying habits since procrastinating on the Internet wasn’t an option anymore. I actually went to sleep at a reasonable time because I finished my assignments during the hours of daylight.
Living without social media surprisingly lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders. I didn’t have to respond to group chats, which had caused me more stress than I realized. I didn’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations over the Internet, and it felt great. I had room to be me.
I learned it is definitely not possible to go offline for students taking courses that require printouts and online research, or have extracurriculars and clubs which require communication via Facebook.
However, living day-to-day off the grid was an ignorant bliss. I was disconnected from my friends, my life at school and my modern duties as a student, and it left me wondering, “Is this how teenagers in the 90s actually lived?” I have to admit — it wasn’t half bad.