We are now completely dependent on technology for everyday survival and entertainment. Whenever we enter a building, whether an office, church, or school, we check to see if they offer Wi-Fi. If the Wi-Fi connection is weak, then teenagers use their super sleuth skills to find the location where it is strongest. One of my friend’s pursuits for steady Wi-Fi led him to spend ample time in the church bathroom because the Wi-Fi connection was strongest there. Teenagers are especially dependent on their internet connection, but more so for entertainment than work needs. Taking away a teenager’s internet is like stealing their entertainment oxygen supply.
Teenagers have grown up in a culture infiltrated by social media and mobile technology. For as long as we can remember, smartphones, tablets, and computers have been constant companions. Being without Wi-Fi seems foreign, even unnatural. Our environment has trained us to accept Wi-Fi, mobile devices, and social media as normal and necessary.
So what happens when you take Wi-Fi away from a teenager for an entire week? How do they cope? When my family went camping in Greer, Arizona, for a week last September, I had the opportunity to find out. We were in a fairly remote location, so not only did we not have Wi-Fi, but we almost never had cellular connection. In the absence of my normal entertainment source (the internet), I had to get creative. During this week, I rediscovered old passions, reconnected with my family, and even found some new hobbies. I present to you, the diary of a teenager discovering what life is like without Wi-Fi. Here are days 1 and 2.
Day 1 – Peace 9/2/2017
We have just arrived at the campground. To my surprise, I feel a strange sense of peace. I am almost looking forward to having no internet connection. The week before this trip, I was checking my computer and phone constantly. I was incessantly seeking something new, but this incessancy led to anxiety. I feel at peace knowing that there is nothing to check. I can live in ignorant bliss for the next week. I have gone from a ping pong attention span to a one track mind. I will find other activities to keep myself occupied. I have brought many books with me, and hopefully the forest will offer some entertainment.
Day 2 – Alternate Sources of Entertainment 9/3/2017
I have made a monumental discovery – people like to watch people. That is why television is so popular: it is simply professional people-watching. This people-watching obsession takes many forms – you could stalk acquaintances on Facebook, watch celebrities on TV, or observe your camp ground neighbors. Since I am without Wi-Fi and TV, I am doing the latter. The kids across the road played tag last night. This morning a teen girl across the street appeared to be putting a long, rectangular box over her teenage brother. I do not think the brother was able to successfully escape his cardboard bonds. My fellow campers are tapping into their creative juices. Entertaining ourselves is fairly simple, but first we must allow boredom to set in. Tag requires no equipment, and even a cardboard box can become a game in the absence of toys.