Is There Life Beyond Our Phones?
The Initial Breakup
I’m typing this blog on my husband’s iphone with one bar of signal. I decided to leave my phone at home one day before leaving for the AT. As soon as our car headed towards the hills I had feelings of panic at being separated from social media for the first time in almost a decade. It’s all in good fun, I told myself, it helps me stay connected. Then why do I feel anxiety about being without the Internet name my phone? The first few days of hiking, my mind was filled with everything I could post on Twitter, Instagram or blogs about my experience that I wasn’t, everything people were missing that I could be sharing with them.
But as I wanted to own my decision and follow through with it, these feelings of expressing myself subsided and I was left alone in a void without what people thought about what I was experiencing. And I began to just experience it for itself once again. I don’t remember the last time that happened.
Unexpected Side Effects
And then other things start to happen that I hadn’t forseen. There are times in everyone’s day when they come across something internally uncomfortable. Whether that is anxiety or stress or fear or disagreement or bad memories, these feelings can arise in anyone’s day. The difference that I found happening during a day of hiking was that I was completely at a lack for escaping, ignoring or distracting myself from experiencing these feelings or thoughts. And when you’re left with nothing but enduring them, you begin to reconcile these thoughts or feelings with your current reality and current identity.
You’re left with space and time to process and to come to internal conclusions whether you have the power to change anything or not. These feelings or thoughts are meant to be processed, not to be stuff down or ignored. And this doesn’t mean we coddle them or feed them or that they grow bigger, these negative feelings, but we allow them to move through a healthy course of processing leading to their finality.
I find myself more at peace than I have in a long time and it’s not because I have less stress or uncomfortability. I’ve remembered who I am apart from anxiety or stress to the point where now I recognize when negative feelings arise but they don’t have to be. And now because I’m left with no distractions but to endure them I internally address them head on and don’t tolerate them hanging around for very long. Where before, a way of escape is sometimes trying to mask them or to distract yourself from them, which I have found often doesn’t lead to a solution.
I noticed this before but it wasn’t always motivation enough to make a change in my daily life style patterns.
I remember feeling stronger internally when looking back in my life and wondered what contributed to that strength or lack of it and now I’m left with a clear conclusion that distractions of the internet or social media have left me not with strength but insecurity or unresolved internal thought patterns.
I had thought that I needed a time and a space to process these things when really all I needed was an absence of distraction and absence of coping or escaping. While hiking, it felt as if the media speaks of fear, comparison and insecurity while nature spoke to me of dignity, strength and peace.
Am I a changed person through the absence of social media? I would say yes. Although helpful to connect with others, the internet sometimes leaves us disconnected from ourselves. My fear is that when done with this hiking trip, this precious vacuum won’t exist anymore. And so today I appreciate having no signal, having no phone, reading few headlines, and being left with an internal strength more valuable then everything that entertains for a moment.
The irony of this is that I’m sharing this with you over social media. I’m drawing your attention back to the Internet and to pictures and a short paragraphs. But I guess I’ll leave you with the sharing of my experience away from these very things. Although inspiring, may you make these experiences your own rather than just reading them through the eyes of another. May your own adventure lead you to strength and internal peace again.
For more distraction watch our hiking videos on YouTube by following “Joel Wanders”.
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