After a frenetic 2015, my sailor boyfriend and I decided to buck the trend of binge drinking our way from Christmas to New Years by taking his boat from Sydney to the winding estuaries of Pittwater and the Hawkesbury. This commitment to the stars and sausage sizzles has come at one great cost: WIFI.
It has been a fascinating exercise in what I can only describe as deep, dark grief as we’ve learnt to cope with daily life in the absence of Google. There’s been stark realisations about the human condition, as well as my own personal battle to fight a phantom scrolling sensation in my thumb as I mourn my beloved Instagram.
Here are the five stages of grief I have experienced since my WIFI-free holiday has begun.
Stage One: DENIAL
It was all laughter and clinking beer bottles as we puttered up the Hawkesbury in the first few hours of the trip. Sure, my phone was only showing one bar of connection – one bar? Where the hell where we, Siberia? Northern China? Putin’s underground lair? – but this is 2015, people. We’ll hit that sweet internet hotspot soon.
Stage Two: ANGER
By sunset on day one, I had turned on my boyfriend in a Lord of The Flies-style meltdown. Why did he do this? Was this an internet-intervention? Who did he think he was to ration me out blips of precious, golden WIFI like some kind of www.God.com? My threats begun to flow thick and hard: I was going to wait until he was asleep and sail the boat home. I was going to swim to shore to find WIFI. I was going to send out the emergency flares for someone to come and save me!
Stage Three: BARGAINING
The second day bought forth a new low. Two friends had joined the adventure on their boat, and as we moved from location to location, I begged them to stop the boat as soon as I had over three bars of internet. This invariably meant stopping our boat on course with another boat, or in the middle of a lake, or as we were suddenly about to turn. I was a WIFI junkie beggin’ for another hit, man. JUST ONCE MORE, MAN.
Stage Four: DEPRESSION
By the end of day two a dark fog of sadness had descended over the yacht and our crew. My laptop and iPhone were like silver corpses, sucked free of any satellite-tethered life force. I had taken to scrolling through the photos on my phone, just to feel the scroll one last time. My boyfriend and I had a full-blown debate as to the longevity of coriander in the fridge. The war was over. I had lost. I was alone, floating, drifting upstream, with nothing but Offshore magazine and the Oxford Reference A-Z of Sailing Terms to keep me company.
Stage Five: ACCEPTANCE
Alas, I write this from day four at sea (and by sea, I mean river) and life without WIFI is becoming rather Life Of Pi. Last night we cooked our dinner under the stars, and played with glowing phosphorous in the water for well beyond what anyone who have bothered with should we have been able to Snapchat the experience. I’m feeling calmer…happier…disconnected?
My carbon-cable umbilical cord has been well and truly been chopped and I’m learning to take my first breaths outside of the uber-connected world of 2015. It’s refreshing, you know – allowing the mind to fully savour a task from start to finish without the modern-day twitch of needing to Tweet the progress or Instagram the result.
I haven’t discussed New Years Plans or forgotten salad bowls from Christmas Day or overflowing email inboxes in DAYS and boy it feels good. My outfit of choice for today is a wet bikini and zip-front fleece vest. The cicadas are chirping, the eggs are bubbling on the outdoor BBQ and wait – IS THAT A MESSAGE TONE?
Sorry people, I have three seconds of WIFI to suck up. See you back in civilisation.