autism loneliness social skills

8 Days without Wifi

I have somehow just managed to spend eight days without wifi while trekking in Nepal and although it was very stressful at first, I found it quite beneficial.

I am the sort of person who spends their life on the internet. My job is online, all my notes for my degree and research is online. Plus, I’m a big user of social media with my best memories being captured by my phone.

Being without the Internet has taught me a lot about how I live my day to day life.

I think spending time on the Internet deludes us and our ability to process things. It’s a time filler that draws us in like any other addiction. I’ve found that time has slowed down a lot while I’ve been here. Usually I measure my life in days and the activities I do but I feel like I’ve been measuring my life in moments. Minutes and even hours are too much to think about. It’s a long long trip characterised by hard days so it is literally about taking each step at a time and having a deep connection to each moment – whether it be through pain, awe or joy.

I think time slowing down helps you to think about the more important things in life. It’s weird that the Internet connects us to the wider world yet also disconnects us from the world that exists inside us. It gives us instant gratification but not the same as the gratification that comes from being able to truly be aware of who you are and your surroundings.

I think it has really helped me with my ‘what if’ mentality. I usually stress over small things through catastrophising but I think being so disconnected from everything has made my brain breathe a bit. The Internet massively provokes anxiety. It’s quite amazing to experience life without.

Another big thing is the fact that I haven’t felt lonely, despite not being in contact with anyone in the outside world. I haven’t seen anyone other than my dad, two Nepalese people and a few sherpas yet I haven’t had that empty feeling I get when engaging in social media. The internet is a so called way to combat lonliness yet I think it can also prevent us from feeling connected to ourselves. I think a lot of it comes from feeling like we ‘should’ be doing something else or ‘should’ have more friends. This trek has just made me really grateful for the connections that I do have. Lonliness is effectively a biological response meant to trigger us to connect to others as we are a social species made to work together. I think that doing a trek such as this has made me and the few people I’m with connect despite the language barrier.

“Our evolutionary advantage is our brain, and our ability to plan, reason, communicate, and work together. Our survival depends on our collective ability, not on our individual might.”

John Cacioppo (2013)

I think what I have realised through the intense gratitude I’ve developed is that it is the quality of relationships that matter to me, not the quantity. This is a big thing for me as I spend a lot of time and energy seeking new connections. The way that I do this is things that involve ‘doing’ such as volunteering or work.

Obviously I’m not going to go internet free when I’m back but it has made me consider my usage and how much I value the people in my life.

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