As I write this, I am constantly clicking ‘refresh’ on my browser to see if the Internet is working yet.
The clicks are getting farther and fewer between, but I still feel a hint of anxiety. I don’t blame myself. Internet outages have always been a weak spot for me and it’s something that I’m still working on. Two-thirds of my life has been spent in close proximity to a computer. I’ve formed friendships and whole identities online. There’s Twitter Shelby, Instagram Shelby, Tumblr Shelby. All different versions of myself, none of which even come close to who I am at my core. (That person has nothing to do with words and pictures.)
But I love the Internet.
It has opened up countless doors of opportunity for me and has served as a place where I can connect and exchange ideas with people from all over the world. As an Introvert who loves to test my own boundaries of thought, I am thankful for this online community.
Am I addicted, though?
A good way of knowing if something has become an addiction is to notice your feelings in it’s absence. Do you “need” that thing? Do you feel incomplete without it? My initial reaction is always one of distress. But within seconds, I’m able to take a step back and laugh at myself–even feel relief. And the relief is unparalleled to anything else, I swear.
The ultimate vacation has nothing to do with traveling away, and everything to do with traveling home. We spend most of our time disconnected from our surroundings, our loved ones and ultimately, ourselves. Disconnecting from the Internet gives us the opportunity to find that connection. Technology is a tool for transformation, without a doubt. But it can also be a toxin. If you spend more time looking at your smartphone than in the eyes of the people around the dinner table, it’s probably the latter.
So I sit here, typing. The Costa Rican sun is setting and I’m listening to a song on Spotify (thank goodness for the Offline feature). Except this time, I’m really listening. Every word and sound and even the silence in between.
With each passing day, I find myself reaching greater heights of awareness, and I owe much of that progress to these moments without Google.
Full Disclosure: I wrote this yesterday. The Internet has been out for over 24 hours. We were all growing impatient, so we drove into town to get some work done at a cafe. Baby steps. 😛