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Being bored, impatient, and lonely is much worse if SHTF. Making bad decisions at critical moments will impact your survival unless you can get a handle on your state of mind. But does our dependence on modern technology and its entertainment value make that much harder? And if you’re unable to handle an afternoon without your phone, will taking a technology vacation help? I think so. And, it’s much easier to take an occasional break from technological entertainment than you think.
The Risks of Boredom
It’s well known that boredom is a major risk during SHTF events. You’re more likely to make bad decisions or get into conflicts with other people when you’re bored. It’s worse when you’re confined, because the physical constraint seems to have dramatic psychological effects (cabin fever). But, even when you can go out for a walk, boredom is a killer.
Consider this experiment conducted by researchers for Maastricht University. They placed people in an empty room, with nothing to do, for fifteen minutes. Except, they left behind a device that the test subjects could use to give themselves an electric shock. Of course, people shocked themselves. And, similar studies have found that the more bored someone is, the higher a shock they will give themselves.
Self-destructive behavior isn’t the only side effect of being bored. You also tend to eat more food when bored, which can be a problem if you’re trying to ration your food. Plus, there’s an increased chance that boredom gives you the space to dwell on negative emotions and ideas, which can run rampant in a SHTF situation even if you are busy.
To stave off boredom, preppers often suggest prepping a variety of toys and games you don’t need electricity to play. Variety is key, as eventually, you get tired of reading the same book, playing cards or whatever you’re doing.
But, how much worse is that boredom for people who are used to the constant stimulation of the internet age? Especially the children who grew up with this constant input and may have no idea how to actually generate their own games and amuse themselves? I imagine the boredom would be much, much worse, and research seems to agree with me.
How Technology Changes Us
When you stand in line at the grocery store, how many people are on their phones? Chances are, you take your phone out at every break at work, even every trip to the bathroom. For some people, this becomes an addiction that affects their safety. They text at red lights, they look at their phone while walking up the stairs, even place themselves in harm’s way to get an interesting selfie.
Others find that they need the stimulation of the internet even when they are doing something else. Some people have Netflix or Youtube in the background of their whole lives, watching a program while they entertain friends, even spend time in the bedroom with their spouse. Back when I was a student, I met people who insisted they needed a program playing on the background in order to be able to study.
Much has been written about how this changes our daily lives. For starters, the over-stimulation of technology makes you more prone to boredom. A psychologist from the University of Central Lancashire, Dr. Mann, explained this to the Daily Mail. She said, “We become reliant on passive forms of stimulation and lose the ability to go off in our minds.”
Closely linked to our inability to entertain ourselves with our own thoughts is technology-induced impatience. We’re used to instant results, so we get frustrated when those expectations are not met. Jim Taylor, Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today, suggests that this problem is more dramatic in younger people whose brain development has been shaped by the use of technology, limiting their attention spans, along with their memory and imagination.
For younger people, technology has begun to impact their ability to socialize. Young adults mostly talk to those they are closest to through technology. So, they may feel lonely and isolated when texting isn’t an option. The University of Maryland ran an experiment where students were asked not to use technology for a day. To varying degrees, students had trouble coping.
In the experiment, one student wrote:
“When I did not have those two luxuries, [texting and messaging] I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”
There are many benefits to technology too, of course. Very few want to live in a world without it. However, our dependence on technology creates a real problem when we have to go without, even during a simple SHTF scenario like a power outage.
The Solution: A Technology Vacation
No matter your age, you’re going to feel frustrated without technology. Unless that is, you already limit your use of technology. If you don’t, but you think you’ll be fine without the entertainment, simply try to go without any form of digital entertainment or connection for a short period of time, maybe a few hours. I think you’ll find that you’re bored quickly.
Average people have dabbled in technology vacations outside of the prepper world. Just search for “digital detox” or “technology free vacation” and you’ll find hundreds of stories of people who wanted to actually leave their work behind for their vacation, so they ditched their internet connection.
There are even vacation spots popping up that intentionally separate you from the internet. Those who go to these retreats receive no work emails, can’t access social media, and don’t watch even pre-downloaded shows or movies.
Results are mixed if your goal is to vacation. It turns out that being without the internet is stressful for most people. Plenty report feeling out of touch, worried about work, or plain bored. They often go to great lengths to get an internet connection even for a few minutes. Some people report hearing phantom phones ringing and reaching for their phone instinctively.
Then again, these are often people whose jobs involve constant emails or watching the news cycle closely. You’ll probably be more comfortable if your job is less tech-based.
No matter how well or poorly you do, the only way to get better at coping with your phone is to practice. You certainly don’t need to go to some special vacation spot to do it, either. The most effective way to practice is to turn off your internet router, unplug your desktop, and put your phone in a drawer. Why not just exercise discipline and stop using them? If you’re like me, you’ll find you forget and reflexively reach for technology anyway.
How to Fit In Technology Breaks
You don’t have to limit yourself to vacations. You could try many different time periods. Perhaps you can go for an hour or two every day without internet. Perhaps there’s a day a week, or a week a year, where you can really unplug. If you ever do dry runs of SHTF scenarios, it’s smart to also shut off the internet and refrain from using even battery powered entertainment, just to get yourself used to it.
You can also leave your phone behind when you do some small tasks, such as:
- Run errands
- Pick the kids up from school
- Take the kids to their activities
- Work in the garden
- Go for a walk
- Go to the gym
- Go out to special events
- Take your work break or lunch
Small breaks give you the chance to learn to cope without the constant stimulation of technology. As a nice side benefit, you may also find that they make you more present with your family.
Other Things You Can Do To Prepare For Technology-Less Boredom
There are a handful of other skills you can develop to prepare yourself to cope without technology. Mindfulness training has been suggested as a good way to learn to cope with boredom. And meditation is essentially practice being bored, so that’s an option. You can also try to rely more on non-digital entertainment, like books, board games, and physical tasks.
Prepping For Your Kids to be Without Technology
You should always have non-powered toys for your children, both in your bug out bags and in the supply cupboard. Here are some ideas:
- Balls, be it soccer, football, basketball, even a hockey puck, and sticks
- Board Games
- Deck of cards
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Dolls and action figures
- Stuffed animals (more comfort than amusement)
- Colouring supplies
- Molding clay
If your children are old enough to take on some responsibility when SHTF, giving them something to do can go a long way in keeping them from feeling bored and isolated. The more important they believe their task is, the better they will respond to it. For more, read Gaye’s advice on teaching kids to have a preparedness mindset.
Humans adjust to whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. That’s why we’ve changed so much in the face of the internet, but also how we’d survive some time without it. After a few days without the internet, kids would be back to making toys out of anything they could find, and you’d be back to enjoying the pace of books. It’s just getting through those first few days that would hurt—so keep your chin up!
Author Bio: Ellysa Chenery can be found writing all over the web. She loves adapting traditional skills for new situations, whether in the wilderness, garden, or homestead. Her favorite smell is carrots fresh from the dirt.
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6 Responses to “Why Preppers Should Take Technology Vacations”
My kids go to a sleep away summer camp (for over 5 years) where phones are turned in to the staff and only allowed for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon. So they get a detox every summer for 2-3 weeks. And guess what, while they are there they do things like carry a deck of cards in their pocket to play games while in between activities (son) or keep embroidery floss & a safety pin in their pocket for tying friendship bracelets (daughter)…and if you ask either one of them (15 & 17yrs old-the oldest is now a CIT) what their favorite thing they do all year is, theie immediate answer is “going to camp@. So consider sending your kids to a camp that doesn’t allow phones etc 🙂
Even tho I am involved in several on line businesses, I do have a ‘real’ job as well. I take regular technology breaks. I don’t answer my phone when I drive, much lest text/message. Drives the family nuts LOL! Same if I am interacting with a clerk in a store, or checking out. DH and I spend one night a week without our phones, although we *may* be streaming a movie, but we are both present in the same moment. And while at the ‘real’ job, 8+ hours/day 5 days/week, I only check my phone on breaks. We camp often and don’t always have reliable service. And we are okay with that. But yes I admit I am more hooked on technology than I want or need to be. I will be okay without it but worry about the kids and grands.
I work with able bodied vulnerable adults and whenever possible try to get them out in nature without all the phones, devices and computer games. We don’t even have the radio on . It’s magical to see the response to simple things like cooking hotdogs over a fire we made ourselves, making a simple tarpoline shwlter, or just sitting by a river! The real person comes out and people start to relax, and talk about more important things than computer games or soap operas
This is excellent advice. We let ourselves get mentally addicted to things that we actually don’t need — not in the survival sense. Preparing for a crisis should include mental preparation. I’ve heard some people say they “simply must” take a hot shower every morning, or “simply must” have coffee, etc. If they get hit with a Hurricane Sandy, they could very well have to go without those “must haves” for a long time.
It’s a good exercise to stage such ‘vacations’ from your “must haves” to toughen up a bit and probably discover that you actually CAN get by without them.
Love this! My husband and I do not use our devices until after the children are in bed. Between work and school, we want what little together time we have to be about….being together. We also restrict digital time for our kids and chose a school that does not introduce computers to the classroom until Grade 2. We have a “family game night” once a week – and our kids love it. When Hurricane Sandy hit, there was a woman on the news being interviewed who was sobbing because “we got no electricity and we haven’t had TV in THREE DAYS!!” She was in actual hysterics over losing TV – not food, not clear roadways, or access to work/school. I thought, Where is her head at when losing TV is her biggest worry??” That made such an impression on me. I never want my family to be like that.
Great article! My husband and I are considering unplugging ourselves from the internet completely on our homestead when we retire and only using it on occasional trips to the library in town. I hate that we, and society, have become so utterly dependent on something that we will be very much without when the shtf. People will already be on edge in a crisis but dealing with internet deprivation on top of it all might send many over the edge!