One of the greatest lessons of the last two years has been relearning the value of offline life.
This is something our ancestors knew because they didn’t have the internet. It’s something we’ve needed to relearn after so many years spent plugged in.
There’s nothing wrong with life online. We’re both on it right now — I’m writing this and you’re reading it. I’m getting my words out via the internet.
But even a good thing can become too much.
Water is necessary for life. Consuming too much will poison you.
You can get Vitamin D from the sun, but too much exposure will give you burns.
Everything needs to exist in balance, or there’s dis-ease.
The last two years gave me the opportunity to see how living so much of my life online was detrimental to my health. It let me see how much value there is in offline life, and how much I’d been missing by focusing so much on the online.
“The Circumstances That Shall Not Be Named” were not the only thing that forced me to see the value of offline life. I admit they were part of it. You appreciate the value of face-to-face interaction when you’re deprived of it for so long.
It was also because two years ago I moved to my mom’s small town to help her out and start my new job.
My life changed overnight.
In our city suite, my husband and I don’t go out except for groceries and work. We don’t see friends. Even before certain policies, our social lives were thin. We live at least 20 minutes away from anyone we’d want to see.
We don’t have our own place where we can entertain. A tiny basement suite doesn’t leave one much room. Our outdoors is a tiny patch of grass that we can’t do much with because it belongs to our landlords.
In my mom’s town, there’s always something going on, always someone to see or visit. There’s her store to run, of course, but besides that her neighbours drop in. Or her friends. She has a more vibrant social life than I do and she’s 38 years my senior.
People are closer in a small town. I mean that both in the emotional and the physical sense. Everything is about five minutes away, so the mental cost of deciding to go out is much lessened. Not to mention the gas costs.
My mom’s house has a massive garden, too, so I was able to spend a lot of time outdoors, in the dirt. Taking care of the grounds forces one to spend more time away from the computer and in the fresh air.
Changing the balance of how much time I spend online versus off had some noticeable effects in my life.
My sleep improved.
My mood improved.
My anxiety lessened.
My productivity increased.
I was happier.
Since March, I’ve been back in the big city, in the suite I share with my husband. My life splits between small town and big city. Mom and spouse. Life-internet balance and sunless goblin existence.
I’ll always have some degree of goblin energy, but I miss the small town life. I miss in-person social interactions. I miss time outside in the garden. I miss my dog.
My husband is less convinced on the benefit of these things. He’s happy living in a hole in the ground in the city.
Or so he says. Something tells me that once he has a chance to experience what I did, he’ll come round.