An Internet-Free Weekend
It’s probably no surprise that I love the internet. I mean, I’m a blogger, and I work in Social Media, and I’m obsessed with Instagram and Pinterest and things that have cats printed on them. I appreciate the internet, I recognise it as being core in my ability to live my dream of writing, and I rely on it. A lot.
In the midst of all this, however, is an honest acceptance that the internet can sometimes be damaging for me. Putting yourself out in the public sphere is scary, and every time I get a nasty comment or message, it obviously hurts. Similarly, being so constantly present and available online sometimes adds to my anxiousness – I can barely explain how weird I get about people messaging me, or not messaging me, because I can see (over Whatsapp or Facebook messenger) that they’re online and they’ve read my message and just aren’t replying. That really gets to me. Wasn’t it simpler when we were all sending each other letters?!
It probably makes sense, then, that I take real comfort and strength from my internet-free weekends. Just outside of Machadodorp in Mpumalanga my parents have a beautiful little farm – getting there isn’t easy, and by the time you’ve driven through the forests and reached the little farmhouse on the top of the hill, there’s no cellphone reception. I mean that – you are cut off from the world, you won’t see another soul while you’re there, and it’s absolutely glorious.
While on these weekends, I always find that I initially experience withdrawal symptoms – what if something is happening on Twitter? What if someone has tagged me on Facebook? WILL THE INTERNET SURVIVE WITHOUT ME? And the thing is, it does. It really always does. And quickly I forget about my phone (it normally dies in the bottom of my bag without me realising) and I am able to just enjoy where I am and breathe.
There’s something really special about this time spent with my family. We get protective over these weekends, move other social commitments to make sure we don’t miss them, and sulk when we have to. As the youngest of five children, I think it’s pretty unusual to be in a family where we all genuinely get along as adults, and I can honestly say that my four siblings and their partners are my best friends in the world. Spending a weekend together is something that’s crazy special.
We make pancakes from scratch. We go fly fishing (A LOT), we swim in the dams, we play board games and play guitar and drink and read and talk (also, A LOT) and go on walks. We tell jokes and play cricket and have water balloon fights and make bonfires. We take afternoon naps and picnics down by the water, we catch frogs and my nephews write long, intricate plays that they then perform for us. And I write – I write with a calm and clarity that I seldom manage in the daily bustle of my home life.
It’s important to figure out how you can make your brain work best – I’ve come to see that having some time away from the busy-ness every few months is critical in helping me to cope and clear my mind. Once spoken through with my Mum on the stoep with a GnT, my worries seem less scary. Once written out in my notebooks and journals, my ideas have a lot more clarity and direction.
I challenge you to treat yourself to an internet-free weekend this year. Get out, hear the silence, and embrace it.