Taking the red pill

I’ve recently come back from a 16-day walk with my son that started at the New Hampshire/Canadian border and ended at the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border.

It was 16 days of spotty cell coverage and non-existent internet service. In short it was a time of being, for the most part unplugged (dark.)

The only news we recieved was when we got to our hotel each night and turned on CNN thirsty for the outrageous things a presidential candidate had said that day.

We had no GPS and had to rely on maps to tell us where to go.

I had no connection to tell me if rain was in the forecast or what the UV factor was for that day.

My son and I had to rely on ourselves for conversation and entertainment. Such a rarity – such a gift.

And I loved it.

Loved it so much, that I want to go back. Truly. I want to have a tiny house in northern New Hampshire and only be on the net when I absolutely need to. (I know, how very Little House in the Big Woods is that?) I want to write uninterrupted.

Our walk taught me that I spend far too much time cruising around on the internet in the pursuit of etnertainment. Sure, as a writer, I have to sit in front of a monitor, but do I really need to check the news sites to see if there’s been an update on a situation? Do I need to click on that which is so cleverly disguised as click-bate (you got me again!)

Our walk made me realize how much of my life is wasted on the internet and how little of it is spent outside enjoying the real world. It’s the new Matrix dilemma – plug into the fake world or go join the true one.

I choose the red pill.

This experience has left me determined to limit my internet interactions. I’m going to try to use the internet deliberately and with thought. I’m going to take back control.

I have seen the light and I’m going dark.

I’m now taking my computer to places where I have no internet connection so that I can write with unbridled and uninterrupted abandon – while sipping a cup of tea and watching clever little birds dip in and out of the bird bath over there on that verdant green lawn.




Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

15 thoughts on “Taking the red pill

  1. It’s hard to wean ourselves off this digital diet, but I bet the rewards are very much worth the effort. You have inspired me to at least begin the internal dialog with myself about how I can start to curb the habit. Much of my work requires constant access, but I hope to find pockets of tasks that will allow me to work away from the unceasing ding and hum of the Internet and email. Maybe there’s hope for me … maybe …

  2. It is fascinating how nature and interaction with people (in real life i mean) can change a person’s perspective on everything. It really makes you stop and think how life CAN go on without our obsession with the internet and what’s going on every second of every day. You’d be surprised to know that just one hour each night is just enough for you to gather all you need. It truly is illuminating and inspiring to be a part of this world and not just an observer.

  3. We had a similar experience a few months ago when a storm knocked out our power for three days. Mind you we still had our phones, but we used them sparingly, and at night we lit candles and played card games with our 4 year old instead of watching cartoons. It was a great experience. I’d choose the red pill too!

  4. I love nature. I grew up in boyscouts and went on regular, week long hikes with just a backpack, a map, and a compass (and our troop leaders to make sure we all didn’t die if something went wrong). I went on camping trips at least once a month for years. Then I became an adult. It’s been harder to find the time to get outdoors. With my problematic health, it’s been harder to enjoy those rare times outdoors. I still love it though. I want to wake my children to all those places I remembered from my childhood. I want them to appreciate the wonders of nature.

  5. I truly enjoyed this post. In consideration of getting back to the basics, letting go of much of the digital, we grow closer to God and nature. Social media has become a virus eating through our relationships when the right choices are not made.

  6. Agree 100%. But you don’t have to go away to do it. I’ve got my own set of rules during the workweek, which includes only going online 3 or 4 times a day, and my smartphone is totally under app-ed: I only do voice, text and the occasional photo or gmail (only family have the address). It’s off at night. On holidays, no laptop. I’m in the USA right now, and see insane levels of online presence which I feel just can’t be good for your mental health and concentration!

  7. I totally agree with you. I went on holiday a couple of weeks ago to a place in Wales where 4G signal was non-existent so getting on the internet was a nightmare. However, not getting onto the internet was a blessing too because we didn’t get stressed out about what we were missing on Facebook and we concentrated on what we were doing with each other and actually TALKING to each other for the whole time. I need to adopt a better way of controlling my time online, setting time limits or something like I did with the kids when they were younger.

  8. This is such an wonderful post. It’s true, I spend way too much time online, and that’s why I try to avoid writing on a computer/laptop. It helps that I write my first drafts on paper. (While working on my last novel I spent a total of four hours online during almost five months. It was one of the most freeing things I’ve done in years.)

  9. What a refreshing and absolutely truthful post. I am extremely grateful for my life because of the very things I thought I hated. My mobile phone only works when I am in town. (30 klms away). We have satellite dish for all internet so through necessity are compelled to use it during certain hours and for certain specific tasks. We can literally filter out all the constant ‘feed’ of unnecessary information and CHOOSE info and what research etc is done. I LOVE IT! Regarding writing it has always been my preference to write first drafts and stories on paper. It’s lovely to mull over and ‘get it sorted in my head’ then the joy of choosing when and how to begin putting it on computer. I have been away and the noise the constant barrage of newsfeed about all sorts of world-wide stuff was mind-numbing. I was glad to get home. As nitapan14 wrote above….This is the most ‘freeing’ way of life I could ever imagine. Thanks for the post.

  10. Good for you! I need to have an internet connection so I can research all the things that I discover I don’t know. I wish I was less distracted by it though. I’m writing this right now because I’m stuck on a line of dialogue.

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