By Eilís Walsh
I lived in a house that did not have Wifi for the better part of four months last semester and was shocked at how cut off from the world I felt. Yet, I formed a very close friendship with my housemate that I genuinely believe would not have come about if we lived in a house with Wifi from the beginning. In saying that, we did spend a lot of time complaining about the lack of internet.
In 2016 it is unusual for anyone under the age of twenty five not to own a smart phone of some sort and with that have apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat downloaded. I am one of the many that do. As I type this I am a little bit ashamed to admit that I am using the internet on my phone and laptop simultaneously. I am googling synonyms on my laptop and browsing the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on my phone. This is not unusual for someone of my age however.
I know that I am heavily reliant on the internet to get through my day. As a blogger, journalist and college newspaper sub-editor I require access to internet to ensure I can do my work, blog regularly and research stories and ideas for the newspaper. But if you think about it, in the past journalists had to do the same job I’m doing without the limitless reach of the web.
If the internet were to somehow shut down for good, I think the immediate reaction would be one of panic. How would we keep in contact with relatives abroad? How could we find out solutions to different questions and problems without searching online? How would we share our lives with our peers if we can’t access social media? And a big one: HOW would we entertain ourselves? I am all too aware of how much I need the internet for different aspects of my life.
If the internet was turned off worldwide and we had to find other ways to educate ourselves, communicate and share our lives I do think we could adapt to life without it. My grandmother has never used the internet and her life is not any less fulfilling without it. If we peeled ourselves away from the internet and actually sought other means of entertaining ourselves I’m sure we would be okay after some time. The problem is, is that we don’t have to. The internet is just seconds away.
Without the internet, we would have to resort to methods of communication, research and entertainment from the past. How many of us write letters to one another today as opposed to using instant messaging? Would you rather spend time poring through books to find answers or would rather just Google the answer? Could you imagine yourself drawing pictures, going for walks and listening to music rather than using the internet for entertainment? If you have answered the internet each time then you might want to take a step back from it. I definitely am guilty of opting for the internet over traditional methods.
I am writing all of this now in the hopes that people will agree and make some changes in their lives but this piece is just as relevant to myself as it is with most of the young people in Ireland and the world today. The internet is intricately interwoven into our daily lives whether we like it or not. We depend on the internet, something you cannot even hold in your hands. It is an endless source of communication, entertainment and contains vast amounts of knowledge. It is right to be thankful for it but it is destroying our social skills.
So how do we reduce our reliance on the internet? You’ll need strong willpower, but it can be done. Put away your phone and talk to someone face to face. Try reading a book to pass the time as opposed to scrolling through your Instagram feed. You’ll find it hard at first but it can be done. I had to entertain myself for four months in a house without Wifi. If I, someone who uses the internet all day everyday can do it, so can you!