What 24 Hours of NOT Being Online Really Feels Like
I took 24 hours break from the constant internet distraction. I really didn’t think I was going to last that long nor had I expected the things that happened to me.
I am kind of guy who literally lives online. If you go through my Facebook shares you will notice that you can hide a dead body amongst those shares and no one would ever find it.
Being constantly connected to the internet on my laptop and phone, I often stay distracted.
I get a notification and I open it straight away. Guess, I have a lot of FOMO.
Anyways, coming across multiple articles on how people experienced their time disconnected from all the social media chatter, I decided to have an experience of my own.
After putting down the thought for months mainly due to the fear of missing out something important while I’m not connected, I finally stopped giving a fuck about what I might miss out and gave it a shot anyway.
It might not have been a perfect day, but I have had my share of fun and peace. In the process, I learned a thing or two which I will be sharing with you today.
Setting the ground rules
I knew I had to set some rules before jumping into my little adventure.
The main objective of this little day out was to turn my focus away from the internet and enjoy the other little things around me and what I wanted to do.
In order to do that, I couldn’t interact with any of the notifications that popped into my phone tempting me to open it. No reading the news. No messages over WhatsApp.
No reading the news. No messages over WhatsApp.
I didn’t want to turn off the internet completely because I needed it to do basic stuff like hailing a cab and navigating.
The goal here was to not engage in any distractions from the internet. I had the liberty to make use of it as a tool.
Here’s what my rules finally boiled down to:
- Use internet only for navigation, searching for places and hailing an Uber.
- Travel light. Cell phone and a pair of earphones only.
- Not engaging with any social media notifications nor chatting with anyone online.
- Have fun.
What about the plan?
Frankly speaking, I had nothing planned out as to how I was going to spend my day.
I didn’t make time to plan anything out. When the day came, I just decided to go impromptu.
When the day came
I woke at around 11 AM that morning. I know you might be thinking that the day was almost half wasted by then.
I just didn’t want to rush anything and rather take things slow.
Having absolutely no clue what’s going to happen next I started pacing around my room coming up with something (kind of Sherlock Holmes).
A matter of luck as you might say, Kingsman: The Golden Circle was playing in theaters near me. Being a Kingsman fan, it made perfect sense to kick start my day with some action (and style 🕶).
I got myself a ticket to the nearest IMAX for a 1 PM show.
Having exactly one and a half hours to get myself ready and reach the place, I knew I had to stir things up quick.
Meditation is the first thing I usually do every morning. I took 10 mins out of my time-to-movie and sat down for my dose of mindfulness.
It was relaxing at first but then my phone started buzzing like crazy. I ignored the first few rings but it kept on buzzing.
I thought either my house was on fire and I was too being mindful to notice that distraction or my parents think that I have been kidnapped because I haven’t been receiving their calls.
Nevertheless, I let go of my mindfulness and opened my eyes to see what was going on.
Turns out it wasn’t anything like that. I put my phone on silent mode.
Being already late and having lost the flow in the middle, I decided to ditch my meditation and move on to the next task.
Not a perfect start. Then again, it was just the start. It didn’t have to be perfect.
At first, I started hurrying through every task as if my ass was on fire. Then I quickly got my head around the fact that it wasn’t supposed to be like that.
There was no need to hurry. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I reached the movie theater a little late?
I would miss out the beginning.
Big deal. I can watch that anytime once the movie comes online.
This took away the feeling of stress and anxiety.
You see, accepting the worst and being in terms with it can save you a lot of worries and make your day better.
I learned that from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. In case, you haven’t read that, grab a copy right now. You will thank me for this.
Funny enough, I still managed to reach the theater on time. I didn’t do a single thing to rush my way to the theater. Yet, I still got there on time (guess I don’t have any fault in my stars).
I even had the time to snap some photos of the place. The glowing IMAX logo looks dope every time.
A wave of distractions
Right from the time I woke up, I was swarmed by a truckload of irresistible notifications. I knew it would be hard to ignore them and it was.
Although I enjoyed the movie in peace (it was super fun btw), I was bombarded by notifications as soon as I took out my phone from my jeans to get a cab.
I felt so tempted to open those notifications, especially when I saw:
“Twitter – 3 new interactions”
“Facebook – X commented on your photo”
“Facebook – Y liked your post”
“Gmail – 10 unread emails”
And so on.
I almost gave in to the temptation but I had my rules set.
I battled most of my day swiping out notifications before even looking at them, to resist any further temptation.
This was the greatest fear that kept me from doing this short experimentation for months. Yet, I have managed to deal with this.
This feeling of accomplishment brought in a great joy and satisfaction. I knew that I am in command of what I’m doing, not some cranky device making me ride its wave.
Nothing was going to creep into my mind, distract me and ruin my day.
The magical encounter
The best part of not having a day planned out is the element of surprise.
I live in the beautiful city of Bangalore. About 6kms from where I’m put up, there’s fancy Harry Potter themed restaurant that I always wanted to visit.
Unfortunately, being turned down by many friends who were not too psyched out having a Harry Potter themed restaurant nearby, I never made it to that place. That was until now.
Looking for a place to have lunch (I was starving), that restaurant came to my mind. It was certain I was not going to miss out the opportunity this time.
I got a cab and headed straight to Two Friend’s Cauldron in JP Nagar, Bangalore.
I wouldn’t say it was out of this world, but the place was pretty decent and modestly themed.
The whole place was decorated with broomsticks, dementors, wizard robes, potions, and whatnot. Even the menu looked like The Marauder’s Map.
Confused by the options, I ordered:
- Wizard’s Soup
- Hogwarts Hot Rolls
- Treacle Tart
You see having a day out on your own without anything planned out can be pretty fun.
I wanted to visit this place for ages but never did so because something came up and the plan changed. Moreover, I am sure if I had planned my day out this place was the least likely to come to my mind.
I would have been in an Italian restaurant gulping down lasagne.
The element of surprise – remember?
Try it out for yourself. I am sure you will like it and it will be a thrill ride.
Anyways, satisfying my physical and magical appetite, I came out of the place looking for the next thing to do. Or rather, thinking where to go next.
Back to the basics
Remember the old times when we used to visit actual bookstores and pick out something fantastic to read? That was before the internet and Kindle took over.
I miss those days too.
Luckily, there was a bookstore nearby the restaurant and it seemed like a good idea to hop in and check out some books. The old-school way.
Looking for something interesting to read I stumbled upon some eye-catchy titles.
Usually, I read mostly self-help, business, and personal growth books but getting them from a physical store would mean losing a lot of money as I can get the same book from Amazon for a much cheaper rate.
Therefore, I started looking for an interesting storybook to fancy my attention.
Sadly, I couldn’t find anything interesting there. No offense CROSSWORD, I’m just a little picky.
I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. I wanted to get a book.
I took out my phone and looked up another bookstore and headed for it straightaway.
I landed straight to Landmark.
This was a much bigger one. They had a large collection.
Funny enough, I found some interesting titles there as well.
I bet this is Ross’s favourite book:
Nowadays, whenever I go to a bookstore, I usually take out my phone and add worthy titles to my Amazon wishlist and order them later at a cheaper price than the bookstores (remember this savings tip).
I was about to do the same here as well. Then I remembered something.
I wasn’t allowed to use the internet to engage in activities of this sort.
And I didn’t. I had to choose a book from the store and buy it from there. No Amazon for me.
After circling the area for 2-3 times, I finally picked up this book by Jojo Moyes:
It seemed like a short and good read.
With my new book tucked under my arm, I was ready to call it a day, go home and start reading this book.
Just then, I saw something.
The taste of New York
There was a Häagen-Dazs store right in front of me.
Being a fitness freak, I usually turn my back to sugary stuff. Then again, it was my day. One day won’t break my system, I said to myself.
I went there and ordered my all time favourite:
Belgian Chocolate with Raspberry Coulis.
It felt so good indulging in a mouthwatering treat after so many months.
The bitter taste of dark Belgian chocolate complemented with the tangy sweetness of the raspberry coulis lit up my taste buds like the 4th of July.
This made me feel that while having a strict diet is good for you and absolutely necessary when your goal is to achieve peak fitness, some loose days won’t hurt you.
It can actually help you stick longer to your plan by preventing you from getting sick of the routine.
If you’re on a strict diet, it’s fine to let go of it some days and indulge in whatever you like.
Go easy on yourself. You don’t have to act tough all the time.
You’re not a machine, don’t be too hard on yourself, take out some for yourself and loosen things up.
Finishing up that ice-cream, I called it a day, picked up a Red Bull and headed back home.
After going through a lot of stress at work, getting kissed by a mosquito (read Dengue), losing 6kgs of lean muscle in the process this was just what I needed to relax and get back into track.
The whole day has been a little adventure of my own. It was soothing. It was fantastic.
Coming back home I started reading the book I picked up, lying down on my bed.
Since everything was going unplanned and unknown, I decided to spice things up for dinner as well.
Guess what I made?
Sweet & Spicy Ginger Garlic Chicken!
I know it’s a long name, but it tasted superb. One more recipe to my list.
Though the day might not have been perfect, I want to have more of these days. At least, once a month or so.
I felt happy.
Although it has been a joyride the whole day, I learned a few lessons as well.
1. You are master of your own life
There’s no one or nothing that’s in charge of you except you yourself. No matter how hard something seems to give up, you can cut it off from your life if you want to.
Like I resisted my temptation to check out notifications every now and then. Just start already.
2. Not having a plan can be sexy
Following the same routine, every day for months can be boring. Spice things up by having a totally unplanned day.
You’ll love it.
3. Little things are important
Little things like the places you want to visit, the foods you want to have, some friends you want to catch up with or maybe some things that you want to buy are important to keep you on track.
Reward yourself by taking breaks every now and then and enjoying these little things in life.
4. Don’t be too hard on yourself
It’s good to follow a strict routine and lead a disciplined life, but staying on the same routine for too long can lead to a burnout.
Make sure you never meet that disaster by letting yourself loose, often. Enjoy some time without routines or restrictions.
Do whatever you want to do. Have whatever you want to have.
5. Take time out for yourself
Being connected and busy is what we all are. You don’t want to miss out any important and good stuff.
However, cutting off everything online and living a disconnected life for a brief period can help you understand yourself better and recharge your batteries by bringing your mind to peace.
What you need to do
I wish I would have done this earlier and not held it up for months. You don’t have to make the same mistake.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Take a day off from work and social media.
- Use that day to roam around your city or visit a peaceful place.
- Keep your phone with you to be connected during emergencies but put it to Do Not Disturb or Silent mode.
- Limit internet usage to basic needs like navigation or transportation.
- Do things that you have been holding up for some time now.
It’s never too late to start.
Try out a single day of not being connected with the internet world. You will want to have more.