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Sunday , 1 August 2021

EDITORIAL: Can I Live Without Internet?

My debit card was denied at the Red Apple.

I’ve moved out to my own spot and I’m acquiring all of the necessities of life: a shower curtain, bathroom mats, stuff like that.

Standing at the till, I was too focused on forgoing my lucrative interest savings of $3.71 in order to make the purchase.

Sometimes life smacks you, amirite?

Enter Casa de Menzies, which is Spanish for barebones living at the moment. So far I’ve acquired some bowls, a pan, (after I lost the first), a couple casserole dishes, and garbage bins too. Some more towels. You know, the stuff houses have in them.

However, there are two things I have consciously decided not to get that may sound like blasphemy – Internet and a TV.

I can hear you gasp as we speak. No Internet. No TV. It sort of lands on the ear like a thud.

Visual media has spread like wildfire to the point that to live without a connection is essentially living off the grid.

Think about how many locations in the world do not have one of two of these modern escapes. Today, a bar is lacking if it only has eight TVs. You might even feel ripped off if you went into the optometrist’s office and they didn’t pre-wrap and bowtie the Wi-Fi password for you on a stylish placard, ready for your use.

In 2018, living off the grid in the first world equates to merely deleting your Facebook account or shirking emails for a month. It’s idiosyncratic, quirky, Kramer-esque; an uncommon thing to do.

Trying to find a happy medium is proving difficult. The prolonged effects of screen time are rearing their head.

According to a recently published study that followed 10,000 Canadian children aged 8-12 for three years, only one-third met a level of physical literacy. The study suggests that screen time may be a factor.

The number one hot button topic on Canadian university campuses is the dramatic rise of mental health issues in students in the past five years. In my peers, I see many young adults so trapped by their preoccupation in activities they don’t enjoy or value online, that they are out of touch with who they are and what they want.

Yes, the Internet is bad, bad, bad. We get it. But there’s almost no escape.

I have so many books I’d like to read. I’ve bought them and they sit untouched. All I have to do is pick them up and read them. Like social media, they are another tool, and they don’t seem to breed the same apathy, negativity, anxiety, and unneeded self-consciousness that the trusty, old book does.

So I asked myself this question because I am that hypocrite who’ll complain about the fall of the man, and spend an hour that night watching another rerun of Seinfeld while scrolling through waves of meaningless information on social media, further contributing to behaviour I say is bad.

What if my living space cuts out the distractions and focuses on what I really want to do in my free – my crucial detox hours?

Is my day better? Is my work better because I get away?

I hope so.

In the meantime, I’ll still be using Internet all day long because my job depends on these modern platforms, as a carpenter has his tools. But now it will be constrained.

It’s been about a week so far, and my data hasn’t run out – yet.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.