Due to pure desperation, some Harrisonburg University students tried to hack into the school’s computer system, risking severe consequences. Others sought a hotel lobby a few blocks out of their way, just to get online.
Why did they go to all this trouble?
Well, Facebook along with all other forms of online communication, including email. Eric Darr, the Pennsylvania University’s Provost, arranged the school’s computer system in such a way that would block use of all online communication for one week.
Darr maintains that the goal was to encourage students to give thought to their Internet-dependent ways. CollegeNews reports that Darr says, “Even if only a slim percentage of students actually renounce Facebook and Twitter for the week, the project will have been a success, if only because of the conversations it has started. The university never expected full abstinence from students . . . nor was it trying to conduct a scientific experiment.”
After coming back from working at a summer camp this year, I was afraid of finding it difficult to hold conversations with people over the age of 12. Breaking out into repetitive children’s songs, using fairly simple vocabulary, and saying only what 3-6 graders’ minds could understand took quite a mental toll on me.
A few weeks into camp, my every thoughts were of Jesus, the campers, and a song about a moose named Fred.
Deeply-ingrained patterns such as these can be difficult to come out of, and if it was difficult for me to readjust to non-camp society, it was difficult for students to quit the Internet.
But what if Vanguard decided to block all online communication for a week, even email?
I know about pockets of students here and there periodically neglecting Facebook, but what about email or the Internet entirely?
The Harrisonburg students had trouble going without Internet for a week, and quite a few people try going without Facebook, but how is it really changing their lives afterward?
The purpose could simply have been to find out if it could be done, or to “break free” from technology, but I don’t really see the point of the whole situation if it isn’t going to have a lasting effect. Going without something, or having some other sort of inspiring experience, means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t change how you live your everyday life.
I could go without consistent, reliable Internet for 2.5 months–oh, wait, I did–but it doesn’t matter if it hasn’t affected the way I speak, the way I spend my time, the way I relate to people.
Since I realized this, I have personally been designating one day a week during which I refuse to turn on my computer or do homework. Instead, I spend extra time with the Lord, time with my friends, and time cultivating hobbies.
Because my camp experiences have significantly and noticeably changed the way I live, I can say “I went without Internet” and have it mean something.
If you have decided to go without or to fast, if you have had an experience you recently described to your friends as “life-changing”, if God really moved in you powerfully, make sure that it actually changes the way you live.
If something has deeply impacted you, you should be reading differently, talking differently, praying differently, going about your work differently, spending time with your friends differently.
You should be making every sacrifice you need to. Otherwise, you may have been through one week without Internet and come out exactly as before, saying something has changed your life when what you really mean is, “It took up my thoughts for five minutes and I will put forth no further effort.”
If your life has truly been changed–live accordingly.