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Sophia DuBose

United States

I've always loved stories. I love how honest writing is. You really can't hide. Words reveal more than you even realize. It's a risk to put your writing out there, especially in public forums like this, but it's vital if you wish to improve.

Message from Writer

Just to prevent confusion: my name is Eliza DuBose. I write under my sister's name so that her dream of seeing her name on published writing will be realised.

​My Life Without the Internet

August 3, 2018

PROMPT: Unplug

12
I grew up in the Rocky Mountains where my nearest neighbor was a mile and a half away and the nearest city was barely within an hours drive. The house I knew as home was built and designed by my parents, both of whom are trained wilderness guides with specialties in Eco-psychology and aboriginal living skills, and  was powered by an off-grid solar system and heated by a wood stove. Most importantly, it had no internet connection and barely any cell service. This meant I had what most people would consider a ‘healthy childhood’. 

I spent my summers running through the forest surrounding my home pretending I was a wolf or an explorer. Late summer and falls were dedicated to collecting wild strawberries, raspberries,  and mushrooms. Winter was filled with ‘ice skating’ (really, it was me sliding over the ice coating a small stream), cross-country skiing, and building snow forts.

I never depended on a phone for entertainment simply because it was never an option. We had a TV a VCR and a few old movies, no channel reception and definitely no cable. I never liked cartoons because I thought the characters voices were too high and their mouths too wide. Whenever I saw it at my grandparents', I didn’t like TV because I got impatient during commercial breaks. I was by no means part of the stereotypical ‘iGen’ experience. 

Even as I grew up and my parents got a divorce resulting in the gifting of my first iPhone (to keep in touch with my dad during the weeks I spent at my mom's) I never spent too much time considering what I presented on these platforms. My Instagram feed was a mess of pixelated pictures of my cat and random bits of the tree branches and books I encountered. I had no theme, I spent no time considering the number of likes I got on photos. To me, it was simply unimportant. Of course, that was not the same for my peers. One girl in my class is perhaps a perfect example of the emphasis we, as teens, place on the internet: 
“I liked her photo on Instagram,” the girl said to me anxiously, “but she hasn’t said anything about it. Do you think she didn’t see it? Should I unlike it and like it again? But would that be weird if she had noticed it right? Maybe I should I leave a comment?” 

It struck me how much power she was giving to this interaction. One that didn’t even directly involve the person she admired. Silently, I mocked her for shallowness, not even realizing that I would one day become her companion in this world of likes and views. 

As the years passed and my exposure to the internet and its many facets continued I slowly began to transform. Suddenly, I was spending hours online analyzing the comments left under my pictures, counting the likes as they went by. Every time I saw a friend I felt I needed to document our activities, to proffer my life for the judgment and attention of my peers. Suddenly, my life was the TV show  meant for a viewership that didn’t particularly even care. And yet, I felt that I had to prove to everyone that I am worth their time. As if the number of likes I get will somehow validate my experience.

I know what my life would be like without the internet: I enter that world every summer when I visit my dad's. Even now, with such tools as hotspots, I don’t even really pause to pick up my phone. I spend my days catching up on reading and writing the stories that have been stuck in my head all year. I run though the woods, once again hunting for mushrooms and sitting in wild strawberry patches. I am more productive, more active, and yes, maybe a little happier. And then, every year I return to school to get sucked back into the colorful videos and various time wasters. I count likes and post photos. I begin performing again. Again, I am a prisoner. Yes, social media is a sort of prison but it is a prison that I hold the key to. I have control of exactly how long I will be imprisoned. The internet is not an independently intelligent entity, trying to pull you into its vortex. It is simply another human invention, one that you and I have control over. If I wanted to, I could delete all the social apps I have on my phone and live without. I would be perfectly fine. However, I think that is a bit extreme. I don’t think its necessary to isolate yourself from the modern world. I believe it isn’t so much about eliminating the audience as it is about nullifying my own compulsion to perform. Maybe it’s about learning to stop performing and start living. 

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5 Comments
  • Sophia DuBose

    Thank you all for your lovely comments! I'm glad you enjoyed the piece!


    3 months ago
  • Erica Lees-Smith

    Having read and heard about these sorts of issues recently, you shed a light on it brilliantly and this is the sort of attitude I believe more people, especially in our generation, should be having towards social media. Love it :)


    3 months ago
  • Ember

    Lovely imagery, and you've struck the nail right on the head


    3 months ago
  • lianhabanana!

    This piece is so interesting. I myself don't have a social media account beside a school email and WTW. This piece is wonderfully written I love it.


    3 months ago
  • Kahasai

    Ooh, I think you and I could get along. ;)

    This is very well written, I empathize with it. I live in the sort of environment you mention at the beginning of this piece (though a bit less isolated; the nearest town with a grocery store is fifteen minutes away, the nearest gas station twenty minutes away, the nearest block building two hours away; we also don't have any cell service here).

    The interaction you mentioned seems very strange to me. On Instagram, I don't really even have an account. I don't do anything with it. I don't care about it. The like button is cheap. A comment, however, is actually worth a bit more, if it has anything more than emojis. The commenter actually sacrificed time in order to give a message.

    On WtW, I find social interaction to be very helpful. Here, there is a distinct goal: to improve one's writing through the advice and input of others.

    Anyways, I enjoyed reading this piece, and agree that self control is key to social media.


    3 months ago