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Thoreau. Hemingway. Salinger. Yeezy. And now, me. What do all of these literary artists have in common? They’ve taken time to go of the grid and revitalize themselves, and returned stronger than ever (most of the time). They get in touch with nature, with themselves, and they find their own blissful inspiration. And that’s how I come to you today.
That’s right. At around noon on Saturday, May 13th, I decided to go off the grid for the next 60 hours. Did the fact that the touch screen on my cell phone stopped working play into this? Let’s not dive into the details of it all. The fact is, I completely ceased all technological communication from the world for two and a half days. To be clear, I had a laptop with me and was able to use Twitter DMs and Facebook messaging to communicate in case of emergency, but still. Two and a half days with no phone? That’s a long ass time. That’s enough time to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy six times over. Seriously. I did the math.
Whenever people do this whole “off the grid” thing, they always come back gushing about how great it was to get in touch with themselves and figure out who they ~really~ are. I won’t lie, I did exactly that and what I learned about myself was kind of terrifying. Okay, terrifying might not be the best choice of words. It’s not like I’m a serial killer painting the walls of my apartment with my victims’ blood. But in the sense of my absolute inability to function without my phone, it’s kind of weird to think about.
For the longest time, I thought I wanted to be one of those people who could cut all ties, pack a backpack and move to a beach town where I could bartend for the rest of my life. I thought I could do it, and at one point I even planned on it. Said plan was faulty for a few reasons, the first being that I don’t know the first thing about bartending, and the next and more important being that I have an absurd case of FOMO. Even if I take a few days off and am having a great time on my own, I’m dreading finding out what everyone else did during those few days because what if it was cooler than what I was doing?
What’s worse is that it goes both ways. Not only am I afraid of missing out on what everyone else is doing, I want everyone to know what I’m doing. Case in point: on Saturday night, I realized that I went to high school with the head bartender at our favorite bar and drank for free all night. Frankly, it was fucking awesome, and I had no way to document it in the moment. No Snaps or Instagram Live or Tweets. Just this column and word of mouth stories to tell of the night, post-mortem.
Let me be very clear, I had a fun night. Not having my phone has forced me to live more “in the moment,” paying more attention to my surroundings and the people I’m spending time with. Conversations, while drunk, were more insightful and less about one of our timelines or feeds. I got to be with friends who I haven’t spent time with in ages, and it was amazing. And I don’t have any pictures to remember it by.
When it’s all said and done, I’m sure I can live without my phone. It’s always nice to take a few hours and unplug from everything. That’s something I’ve done before, but the thing is I’ve always been able to come back and reconnect whenever I want. To go completely off the grid, no connection to other people through the internet? No thanks. Count me out. .