Into the woods: a firsthand experience of living a week without technology

Phillip Downey/File

It’s pretty standard at this point to assume that social media consumes a majority of our lives. So, you can then imagine what it’s like to go cold turkey without it for a week in the woods. Luckily, I went through the experience with a pleasant twist: I was surrounded by the company of about 50 other engineering majors.

In short, the reason why we were all cooped up among the trees was to find a larger meaning to life. It was easy going into the experience with mild skepticism, but it turns out, friends, that you truly can survive without Facebook for more than a week. The issue is that I’m not always surrounded by people who have no other choice.

Going into the wilderness brought a new perspective, but when adding on the potential of making lasting friendships, the towering canopies once again receded into the background and the interactions I had became of greater focus. On campus, the opposite seems true. We purposely try to distract ourselves by the surrounding squirrel shenanigans or the inviting glow of our phone screens. Our phones are something we can rely on, or at least we are constantly reminded of them.

It’s ironic that in order to get people to put in the effort to make meaningful relationships, we must travel far enough to not be reminded of civilization in the first place. Without wood from trees or nutrients from soil, there would be no “civilization” to go back to after a week without technology. The root (pun intended) of society itself is forming communities and trusted bonds, and returning from this experience has now helped me realize this.

On top of that, I realize that maybe we don’t truly rely on social media. We rely, rather, on the satisfaction of making ties with others. We rely on the concept of knowing someone else personally. It comforts us to know that we know other people, which partly explains the success behind social media companies. I am here, however, to tell you that forming a connection with someone sans internet is unmatched.

So go ahead and keep up that stellar status on Tinder or bold aesthetic on Instagram. The point is, if you aren’t satisfied with your relationships, consider tending to them in person (note: you don’t have to go to the woods to do this). You’ll be amazed at what a difference in-person communication makes. 

Contact Malvika Singhal at [email protected].