Going Off The Grid

Last week, I received a text from a good friend that said, “I just want to tell you that I love you bro. It’ll be a while before you hear from me next. I’m going OFF THE GRID!” I didn’t quite know what Joey was talking about, and immediately went to our group chat to see if anybody else knew more about Joey’s “off the grid” adventure. “I love you bro”… what did he have planned for him to shoot me a text like that? Sure, we joke around and say we are boys and that we love each other, but it was a different story for him to type it out and send it to me! We all fired questions at Joey in our group chat: “Joey are you alive?” “Joey don’t do something stupid.” “Joey we are sorry we didn’t pay you last year when you won the fantasy football league.” “Joey please respond!” He never responded to any of these texts, and his “off the grid” expedition seemed to have already begun.

Joey had texted a few other people that day, and we were all trying to understand what was going on. One of my friends suggested he might be going on a trip somewhere. Joey always talked about how much he loved Europe, so we figured he might have booked a spontaneous flight. Another friend suggested he was getting a new phone and that Joey meant he wouldn’t be able to talk for a few days. These were all speculations, and I knew something different was unfolding before us.

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Right when we thought Joey was completely out of reach and we were too late, we received a Snapchat from him. It was as if Joey had risen from the dead and there was hope that we would see him again! The Snapchat was maybe two seconds long, and it was a selfie of Joey with the caption, “Ready, Set, Off The Grid.” This would be the last time we heard from Joey for the next four weeks.

Two weeks into this ordeal, one of my friends talked to Joey’s mom and learned some more about what Joey was trying to pull off. We learned that for Joey, going “off the grid” meant no use of social media, no texting unless it was work related, and one phone call every two weeks to his parents. The pieces of the puzzle started to come together, and his lack of social media posts solidified what his mom told us. This also made sense because Joey had always been a person that lived in the moment. He is one of those people that think all technology destroys the personal experiences we have with close friends. We often joked that the best way to get ahold of Joey would be to send a message on horseback, or on the leg of a pigeon. Sure, he used Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat quite a bit, but he would always make sure we all weren’t on our phones when hanging out. Now, his social media usage was nonexistent.

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At the end of the four weeks, Joey reached out to me through another text message and said, “Dude that was awesome you have to try it.” According to Joey, going “off the grid,” is life changing. He said human interaction becomes more meaningful, you are more in tune with your surroundings, and your overall happiness increases drastically. He felt as though he was living in the moment to the fullest potential. This was the first time I had ever heard of somebody taking on this challenge, but after doing some research, I’ve discovered it’s more popular than most anticipate.

 

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In today’s society, you might wonder how it could even possible for one to cut off digital communication and social media use. A quick Google search revealed that many people like Joey chose to do this social experiment. Most found the experience to be extremely difficult, but insightful. Several people chose to blog about it, or even post tutorials on how to get through the experience, and learn from it. I think if you tried it, you would be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I promise it won’t be the end of the world! I think that striving to live in the moment is one of the essential parts to the human experience. This allows one to create a more fulfilling and meaningful life. I encourage all of you to put down the phone for a change, and consider going “off the grid.” It would be smart to do this after Social Media and Digital Business of course!

 

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13 comments

  1. Love this post. I have always wanted to go “off the grid”, but actually can’t now because my business is online and I need to be present on multiple platforms, multiple times per day. It was a little scary when I realized this, but i’m so used to using social media and technology that it’s almost like having a third arm. For people not in a job that requires technology and social media, I definitely think it’s worth turning it all off for awhile.

  2. drewsimenson · ·

    Nice post! Believe this kind of exercise of going off the grid is very healthy to keep perspective. How old is Joey?

    1. lenskubal · ·

      Joey is 23, and I totally agree with you

  3. Reading your post initially, got me pretty worried. I didn’t know what it meant to “go off the grid” until you explained what it was. So first, I’m pleased Joey is ok. And second, great post.
    I had a friend who went on a retreat once, but only for a weekend (not 4 weeks like Joey), and she had mentioned what a great experience it was to completely disconnect herself from her phone for 48 hours, and that she hadn’t felt she missed it too much. She felt that it was a “refreshing” experience. However, thinking about it, she wasn’t sure she could go longer than that time frame. This really made me understand that sometimes we do need these kind of breaks and to purely socialize, and also, that we have really become addicted to social media and to our phones. I hope people are able to find a balance, because sometimes I feel as though they miss out a lot when they go out with friends when the majority of their time they spend on their phones. For that purpose, I sometimes wonder why even go out with friends and spend cash for something you could simply be doing back home.

  4. Awesome post! I definitely could not have done 4-weeks, I have got to give him some credit. I find myself checking social media and being upset with myself because I realize I had checked it only an hour before. I think there is an interesting start-up that you and Joey would like as well called https://getaway.house
    They offer you the ability to go to these small houses in the woods and live there for as long as you would like. When you get there you lock your phone in a box that you cannot open and you get a key for a shed that has a handful of different fun toys: bikes, slack lines etc. They are absolutely crushing it and it makes sense. People are sick and tired of being constantly connected or at eats the expectation of being connected.

    1. lenskubal · ·

      I am going to forward him this link right now! It has his name written all over it

  5. Interesting topic! I would love to be able to “go off the grid,” too, but it is so hard to do so when you are interviewing for jobs, etc. and need to stay in touch with the news and what is going on in the social and political environment surrounding you. However, I suppose I could just be making excuses and get my news the old-fashioned way of reading a newspaper rather than relying on a newspaper’s Twitter account. I think it’s a little ironic, if you think about it, that so many people are “going off the grid” and turning it into a movement that they then blog about and post about on social media. It seems a little backwards, in some ways; broadcasting the transcendentalist experience for the whole world to read about. Then again, our generation has grown up sharing our lives in the public eye of social media. A really good post and great topic!

    1. lenskubal · ·

      Thanks for your comment, and now that you mention it, I do find it ironic as well. It is almost as if people are trying to make this movement go viral, when it is really intended to be “off the grid.” Definitely a weird concept to think about…

  6. Nice post! I am sure it was a bit confusing for you and his friends initially. It sounds like it was an interesting experience. There was a related segment on 60 Minutes this week, where they talked about cellphone addiction and how phones and apps are essentially like slot machines today. There are so many design features (e.g. the never ending scroll feature) to incentivize us to keep checking our phones every few minutes (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hooked-on-phones/).

    Did he actually go to Europe or did he stay in his hometown for the ‘experiment’?

    1. lenskubal · ·

      He stayed in his hometown but going “off the grid” in another country might not be a bad idea…

  7. One of my students from last semester chose to do this after the class. I’ve tweeted him the link, and we’ll see if he comments with his experience.

    1. lenskubal · ·

      Thank you for the response Professor Kane. I am hoping he responded to you because I am curious to see how the experience was for him. I am seriously considering doing it after the semester and before I start my job!

  8. DanKaplan · ·

    Great job- really enjoyed this post Len. I actually have a friend back home that talked about getting one of the old phones that doesn’t have data, social media, or even a big screen. Just one of the ones from the early 2000s that allows you to simply text and call. It really would be nice to go off the grid once in a while but as mentioned, with recruiting and professional/educational needs, this makes it so hard. However, getting off Facebook for just a week or even two weeks would be really nice.

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