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unplugged

November 30, 2016

 A while back my husband and I took a dive into the world that is an internet-free home.  I remember we were on vacation in Germany and it was SUPER hot. The thought had been rumbling around in my head for a few days: should we stop having internet at home?!...?!...!?... (and so on). I was obviously undecided because it seemed so impossible in a way. But one day as we were returning to our guesthouse, I said to Wim: "I think we need to get rid of our internet at home." and he quickly agreed. Thank the Lord for my husband, who more often than not goes along with my 'strange' impressions. 

 

We had experienced something a few months earlier, where I felt that we should cancel our Netflix subscription (probably because I had watched like (almost) every single episode of House M.D. in a way too short amount of time. And when I calculated how many hours of my life went to that, I was pretty freaked out). We had also gotten into this seemingly unstoppable rhythm of watching a movie or a few TV episodes every night that we didn't have something else planned, usually 5+ out of the 7 nights at the time. Which was kind of pathetic and we knew it, but still we couldn't stop. After dinner time (or sometimes before), the boredom would hit and we'd be like, "what are we gonna watch?" Towards the end we spent most of the time just trying to find a non-crappy & non-sexual movie, would argue about it and would watch something which didn't really enrich our lives in any way.

 

Anyways back to the internet thing: so I had the feeling we should give up the internet. Most of the time when I tell this story, I fear that people think my husband had a porn addiction. That wasn't the case. Actually we both had an addiction, but not to porn... to... information. I don't know how else to label it. But it's that thing when you hit the refresh button on your Facebook page a gagillion times to see if something interesting shows up, all the while knowing that there are so many other valuable and useful things that could be done (spending time with kids, cleaning house, reading books, investing in hobbies & skills, SLEEPING, etc.) and still for some reason you CAN'T STOOOOOOP. I think that's probably what defines addiction, something that you can't say "no" to. So yeah, we were addicted. Actually, we still are addicted. We just removed the temptation from the four corners of our house. But the minute we step out, we're faced with it all over again.

 

I've become even more aware of this now that we are in the States for our furlough. We have internet access in all of the places we are staying and we just seriously can't handle it. We lay in bed next to each other like zombies scrolling through the news feeds of various social media sites, news sites, reading a bunch of random crap about random crap and in the end we usually feel like crap. I'm not kidding. We're overtired, we didn't rest and relax because we were getting overloaded with brain-stimulation the whole time and we haven't connected in our relationship. I did notice that we are both more irritable than usual and it seems like there's just more opportunities for conflict. Like when he's sitting on his phone while the kids tear the house down and he doesn't notice. Or when everyone is in the freezing car waiting for me to get ready and I'm inside having a chat conversation with someone because it "just couldn't wait". 

 

I'm totally not against the internet, I think it's a great tool that has opened up a world of possibilities for pretty much everyone. And when we are out of the house and there's a WIFI signal, we are ON. Seriously. I can't imagine what people who see us in public must think hahaha. But I'm super aware of my inability to be a normal human being when it's at my finger tips all the time. And by normal I mean, listening to the signals of my body (like the tiredness I feel right now even as I'm writing this. I totally should've been in bed 3 hours ago), being able to concentrate and be present in social situations, having a sense of self-worth and value that is not based on how many people liked my new profile pic (which I DID just post this evening and I must admit, I'm liking the feedback).

 

I do see some benefits of the constant internet connection: more opportunities to access and be enriched by helpful information and more connection with people (because we really do live in a world of technology and it's the easiest way to get in touch). And If I'm honest, I have felt slightly tempted to get internet at our home again. Because these benefits ARE nice. But the thing is, the more connected we are (to the cyber world), the less connected we are (to the real world).  That's a high price to pay. Maybe at some point our self-control muscles will be strengthened enough that we can welcome a modem back into our home. Or maybe at some point my kids' education will demand it. But for now, it's a big no. We just can't handle it.

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