Unplug, if just for a day

Noa Yadidi

A few days ago, my uncle and I somehow got into a disagreement over whether Sydney or Canberra is the capital of Australia. After a bet was made, an iPhone was whipped out, “capital city of Australia” was Googled and within seconds the dispute was settled (I won the bet).

There are so many times daily where this almost exact situation occurs – a small nugget of information is unknown or disputed and then easily researched and found out. No longer are long debates over simple facts necessary, and such knowledge even raises the level of discussion.

On an average day, I use the internet a lot, as most of my peers do. I will casually check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a few times throughout the day, and then keep them open in the background as I work on my computer in the evening.

As a newspaper-lover and news enthusiast, the somewhat occasional study break is normally used to quickly browse social media, send a message to a friend or follow links to the Associated Press website or to the expertly-designed USA Today website.

One could imagine my dismay when I got to my great-uncle’s beach house in a tiny seaside village in the south of Italy with not one means of connection to the outside world. The one television in the house, although plugged in, would not turn on, and the rotary phone that used to be in the hallway was gone – I was afraid of the puzzled looks I would receive if I asked about Wi-Fi. There was no chance I was getting on the internet any time soon. You know a village is small when a Wikipedia page doesn’t exist for it, nobody speaks a word of English, everyone is somehow your cousin and absolutely none of them have Wi-Fi.

The first day, I didn’t know how I was going to get through another week of nothing. I pictured all of the potential news stories happening in the world that were passing me by. It seemed like I was stuck while the world was moving without me. It occurred to me then, that if there had been a terrorist attack, or some sort of major news event, we would have no way of finding out.

But after the first day of initial shock, I started to see the silver lining. By shutting off for just a week, my eyes opened and focused on the amazing opportunity I had in front of me: a whole week of beaches, cousins and food. The inability to find any sort of Wi-Fi connection allowed me to experience the week to its full capacity as I couldn’t just retreat away alone to my phone or computer.

It wasn’t easy, but everyone should try it. Pick a day and turn everything off. Turn off your cellphone, don’t turn on the TV, shut off the Wi-Fi for a day. Clear your mind, read a book, catch up on some sleep, have a conversation with your family, play a game together – you’ll find that the possibilities are endless once you take yourself out of that bubble.

Not only did it allow me absorb all I could out of my vacation, but it also gave me a greater appreciation for the technology I might take for granted on an average day.

Needless to say, as soon as I could I quickly “plugged back in” only to find that I hadn’t missed much. Sure, I missed a few stories here and there, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter because what I gained from shutting off far exceeded what I could have if I didn’t. Although it might be some time before my next “detoxification,” I’m glad I was forced to plug out so that I could enjoy what Italy had to offer. You never know what can happen when you unplug – until you try.