The weather in California or more specifically SoCal has been unusual, to say the least, during the past few weeks. In a matter of days, I’ve enjoyed 90-degree sunshine, seen wildfires, watched winds blow over 15-foot plus trees, shivered on afternoon walks, and watched rain turn my garden into a swamp. And this is only January. Climate change is real and these prime examples show the wide range of weather we’ve experienced in a short amount of time. Due to this crazy weather, I spent 24 hours without power during a high wind storm that presented a risk of wildfire from any down power lines.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the last time I spent the day without the internet, let alone power. Like many, the internet has become a lifeline to me the past year. It’s been the reason I’ve stayed connected with family and friends, continued with my classes, entertained myself when I can’t go anywhere, stayed up to date with the news, and generally escaped from this strange reality. So when I didn’t have internet, accompanied with no heating and power for something as simple as a fridge, it jolted me.
I realised how much I took electricity and the internet for granted in my day-to-day life. How many times a day do you think you jump on your phone to Google something? Or reach into the fridge to eat something? Or charge your devices? I discovered I do it quite a lot, and when I couldn’t gain access to an answer on Google I felt a bit…lost. It sounds silly saying it out loud, but our generation is so reliant on instant connection and answers. We’ve literally grown up with the invention of the internet and being able to use it day-to-day. My first mobile couldn’t even go on the internet and the first internet we had needed to be physically connected to the family computer with a wire dangling in the hallway.
Being disconnected for the day taught me a few things. Firstly, I had to entertain myself and find something to do that didn’t require power. So, I sat under a blanket and read a book for the first time in an admittedly long time. I re-organized some areas of my room, and I spent time talking to my family without any distractions. It was actually quite fun being huddled together with two lanterns lighting the living room while listening to the wind slam against the house. It felt like we were camping, but inside. With nothing to do and the whole street being eerily dark, we all went to bed early. For me, it was a great night’s sleep.
I didn’t realise until after the power came back how nice it was to be disconnected from the outside world for a day. No checking my notifications every 15 minutes. No bad news to deflate my mood. No influencers flaunting their idealistic lives on a boat in Mexico during a pandemic while I sit in my bedroom again. It was just quiet… and it made me realise just how much of our time is consumed by the noise of technology and our phones. Just how much time we waste staring at screens when we could be doing other things that would be far more beneficial.
Now, like I said at the beginning of this article, the internet has been a lifeline during this year, and I for one need it to keep sane, engaged, and connected. I know right now there isn’t an awful lot to do except work and use our phones whether it’s for games, chatting, or social media. BUT I think we should also remember to step away from it now and again to disconnect. Spending so much time on our phones can be damaging. Maybe for an hour every week or every day you can try stepping away from your phone, laptop, or iPad?
Since that dark night, I now don’t go on my phone an hour before bed. No Netflix. No Instagram. No shopping. Instead, I read a book with peppermint tea and I cannot tell you how much better I feel from doing it. 24 hours without power allowed me to reconnect with myself and my family in a new way. There wasn’t excess noise nor worry coming from other places. Now I try to spend less time scrolling on social media too and I feel happier for it. The storm was a strange blessing that presented a new perspective and appreciation for having access to the internet, but also power. Sometimes you need to disconnect, to reconnect.