Written by: Josh Kim
I stared at the sentence in shock. “No electricity/cell signal in the community.” How dare Southern exclude this all-important detail until I had fully fundraised for my trip? Wasn’t this some sort of human rights violation? I’ve never been one to willingly go offline. But it looked like I didn’t have a choice. As I turned on Airplane mode in Atlanta, I knew it was going to be a long trip. Once I got on the boat, I realized that international plans and gas-powered generators could enable me to continue my regular digital existence. However, I decided to disconnect for a bit. Obviously, I survived. Here’s what I did without reception.
- Listen to music offline. Spotify Premium has been a nonnegotiable for me throughout college. Even if the Southern WiFi quits every week, I can still listen uninterrupted. Honestly though, I didn’t listen to much of my own music. Instead, I learned the motions to Portuguese worship songs and attempted to learn the lyrics by ear. Two songs that stood out: Meu Farol and Assim óh. (warning: the second one is an earworm). Googling the songs just now made me realize that I totally misheard/mislearned all the lyrics.
- If learning by ear isn’t your strength, try to write lyrics and chords for praise songs by memory so that you can Airdrop them to everyone during worship. For a challenge, also do it in Spanish and Portuguese.
- Use Libby. Free eBooks and audiobooks available offline? Southern has their own collection and you can also link your home library. Confession: out of the three educational books and 2 novels I borrowed, I only got through the latter category.
- Use it as an alarm for 5:50 a.m. kitchen duty. But don’t have the volume too loud, lest you wake the person sleeping in the hammock a foot away.
- Aggressively and mindlessly click through Anki decks. This was my way of avoiding any actual studying on this trip. No, I can’t tell you where the inferior cardiac sinus is.
- Clean up your camera roll. Yes, I’m talking to you. You know you haven’t cleaned it in forever. Also, that might get rid of the perpetual “iCloud is full” notification.
- Fill that newly emptied space with pictures of your new environment and friends (while being culturally sensitive). Also, if you end up going to the hospital, make sure to document it for the mems.
- Jot down your thoughts as you experience the day. How are you feeling? What did you do today? What do you need to buy in Atlanta for 423 when you get back?
- Forget about your phone. Just let it die. If you stop constantly refreshing your feed and Googling random thoughts (as I am prone to do), your battery longevity may surprise you.
- Realize that you might not really need it. This is coming from a person who adamantly insisted that a smartphone is necessary for existence in the modern world. Headlamps will always outperform your phone flashlight. The eye captures the view that you can’t quite get the exposure right for. The best communication is offline. People I only knew through a screen were now in front of me, without the ambiguity that often clouds any digital medium. Stories are meant to be heard, not tapped through. We may serve best when we don’t have service. Perhaps disconnecting is the best way of forming new connections.