How 10 Hours With No Wi-Fi Drove Me Crazy, Then Set Me Free

This is an edition of the newsletter Pulling Weeds With Chris Black, in which the columnist weighs in on hot topics in culture. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

I love the internet. I have been using it as much as possible since I was in middle school and we got dial-up on our white Gateway PC. I wake up, and before coffee touches my lips, my laptop is cracked, and I am looking for information. It’s nonstop, from computer to phone and back again until I fall asleep. I have addiction issues, and for me, this one might be worse than Oxycontin, exercise, or even dessert.

The feeling of being disconnected causes me great anxiety. I will refresh a page incessantly and mindlessly, doing it repeatedly and rarely getting a different result. I have made myself believe it is a good thing. I am on top of my shit, responding to emails and texts with lightning speed. It’s a point of pride. I am always available.

Last week I went to Eastern Europe, to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. The first flight was from New York City to Paris, followed by a four-hour layover in the Air France lounge (new, pretty nice) and a five-hour flight to Tbilisi. The plane on the last leg had small, uncomfortable seats, no plugs for power, and no TVs. I finished an entire book while white noise played in my Air Pod Max. I was intensely focused and enjoying myself. I forgot how good it feels not to pay $20 for shitty plane Wi-Fi and simply focus on reading the words on the page.

On our second day in Tbilisi, we took a Mercedes Sprinter to Batumi, a town five hours away on the Black Sea. The drive was long and tedious, and our driver stopped to smoke a few cigarettes every hour. I didn’t have headphones, and most people in the Sprinter were hungover and not looking to chat. One guy from Germany was tethering, seemingly making deals and chatting on Slack for the entire ride, but my phone only had service intermittently. I was losing my fucking mind. I felt like a child whose parents had taken away the iPad. We arrived at the hotel in Batumi, and I rushed to my room, desperate for internet access (and a shower). We had a sunset cocktail on the roof and a dinner for 120 people in the hotel lobby. Most people stayed up late partying, but I retired around 11 p.m. to mentally prepare for the long drive back tomorrow.

I was dreading this trip. Set off at 10:30 a.m., and I sat in the front next to the driver, who was rolling calls like a CAA assistant for the entire ride. We dodged cows, stray dogs, and traveled mostly on roads in need of repair. I just stared out the window, run-down and tired—but I was focused on the world around me. I was barreling down a newly constructed highway in a foreign place I had never been before. No podcast or Netflix show to distract me. Instagram barely worked. Much to my surprise, it made the drive seem quicker.

I flew back to New York City on Sunday and although Wi-Fi was readily available I decided to forego it and try to just read or write. The experience pushed me to consider—shocking myself—that maybe Wi-Fi on the airplane isn’t necessary. This is a thing now; you can find people on TikTok boasting about “raw-dogging” long flights with little or no stimulus and the sigma slash psycho mindset required to do it.

I can still remember taking AirTrain Airways from Atlanta to NYC in my early 20s. I would deplane and casually check my voicemail, which was never that urgent. I called people back, and the world continued spinning. A lot of us do our best and most creative work on the plane; it has something to do with the cabin pressure, recycled air, and the smell of disgusting food. So next time you board, let the other suckers pay for the garbage Wi-Fi; it’s one of the only places left where we can disconnect without distraction and still be productive.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top