By Katherine Wright
Before classes started, a major storm caused me to lose power for a week. Thirty minutes of high-speed winds led to fallen trees, broken branches and no electricity. It was unprompted, unexpected and — as you can imagine — not ideal in our new World of Zoom.
However, power outages are not uncommon in my town. Several years ago, the first week of school was postponed due to a lack of power, while on another year, Halloween was canceled due to a massive amount of fallen electrical wires.
Right around this time, “trunk or treat” blew up in popularity — the sad replacement to the usual trick-or-treating experience of taking 30 pieces of candy from bowls that say “just take one, please.”
Not surprisingly, the initial glamorous, camping-like feeling of eating nonperishable food and brushing your teeth by candlelight quickly transforms into an overwhelming desperation to return to the 21st century.
In the past, my family would make repeated trips to Starbucks to take advantage of their coffee, air conditioning and free WiFi, while relying on the local YMCA for showers and running water.
This year, I am ashamed to admit that the lack of internet was the most difficult part of the power outage. In a time of constant video meetings, social media and Zoom birthday parties, it’s not easy being off the grid.
In addition to the lack of WiFi and television, the cell towers were down, leading to no phone service at all. For a few days, it was impossible to even email someone just to tell them you couldn’t email them anymore, and you would have to drive for a while just to get enough service to send a text message.
I struggled the most with this power outage than any other. My internet access had been startlingly eliminated and I was forced to go offline cold-turkey in a completely virtual world. The drama of the situation is truly embarrassing and made me realize just how dependent I was on my phone.
To replace my former supply of Netflix and endless streaming, I ended up whipping out my old set of DVDs — an archived collection of all of my favorite childhood movies. I watched “The Incredibles” and “The Parent Trap” while eating fancy chocolates and playing board games with my siblings. This was the luxurious part of the power outage because it allowed me to break my screen cycle and slightly reduce my constant craving for WiFi.
I can’t pretend that I treated the experience with an empowered outlook. In actuality, I was begging the world to return me to my blue-light-filled life. However, it was definitely refreshing and a much-needed cleanse that allowed my phone to stop sending me scary updates such as “your screen time is up 4 hours and 32 minutes from last week.”