Jan 24, 2013

Forced to unplug for 3 days - what did I learn?

In case of a Zombie Apocalypse (or any Apocalypse, for that matter) Portugal, I'm afraid, would go down pretty fast.

This Saturday dawn a great part of the country was in Red Alert. Violent winds swept everything on their way. Still, I would call it a mini-storm, compared to what has been happening around the globe. But still, and as a result, my village had no electricity for 3 consecutive days! My grandparents, who are over 80, can't recall having ever been without electricity for so long. Even today (5 days later) there are still parts of the country without electricity.

The positive thing, is that I had the opportunity to experience life without all the commodities that electricity brings, and reflect a little bit about it.

What have I learned?

1 - Humans invented all kinds of things to feel less lonely and frightened. Electricity is one of them. Something as simple as artificial light creates a great sense of company and security. TV, computers, cell phones, even more. At night and without light, my house seemed bigger and scary. I'm generally a lone wolf but in the last few evenings all I wanted was to be in the main room with everybody else!

2 - When all these created things fail, we have other humans to make us feel less lonely and frightened. That's why in the last evenings my family wasn't all scattered around the house and was, instead, gathered in the kitchen around the Petromax light. Even after dinner, I brought my Math books to study at the kitchen table. No one would consider the possibility to take a candle to a room, and be there, alone, without a laptop/tv/cellphone for company!

3 - Humans also invented all kind of things to be easily entertained. Without these things, humans have to creatively entertain themselves. In these 3 days my sister read, drew and went through old picture albums. I studied a lot of Math and prepared the tutoring lessons. I also read much more than I usually do and played Dicciopinta with my sister. It's supposed to be a 3 or more players game, but we managed to have a lot of fun just the two of us!

4 - Without electricity we are much more aware of the day lighting. It becomes precious. And because I generally go to bed late, and wake up late, days felt too short. If I had to continue living without electricity, I would have to change my sleeping habits!

Summing it all up... I was forced to experience "total-unplug", and I found out that we rely a lot on 'artificial' strategies to feel less lonely and frightened and to be entertained. Not that I wish to continue living without electricity - but it was important for me to realize that true and meaningful company comes from the presence of other human beings and that entertainment has perhaps become too easily accessible - which tends to atrophy creativity.

Now I'll be sure to unplug regularly - even if for just a few hours. And you, have you been forced to unplug lately? Do you willingly do it regularly?

See you soon :)


  1. It sounds like you coped brilliantly, had fun and got lots done. Could we all be happier and more productive without the props of internet and TV? I wonder...

    1. Hi Claire :)

      I guess we could all be happier with at least a little bit less of internet and tv.
      I've also been seriously considering whether my smartphone actually constitutes an improvement to my life, because sometimes I feel too addicted to its 'sparkling' features (always checking e-mails, new blog posts, etc, etc.) 0.o

  2. This was a great opportunity to unplug, even if it was forced! it's great to do, to realise how much we rely on the internet and TV. and electricity in general. I certainly wouldn't be on my own in the dark. Sounds like it was a good experience for you, to spend time with your family and entertain yourself without a computer.

    I willingly unplug at least once a week, although I don't have a schedule anymore. But forcing myself once a week made me a lot less reliant on the internet and my screens. It's a good exercise.

    1. Hi Linda :)

      Yes, it ended up being a good experience.

      It's great that you unplug at least once a week! I'm still figuring out how I'm going to do this, though. I think I'll need some kind of structure/schedule...

  3. Oh my gosh, the electricity in my neighborhood goes off all the time and for no reason at all. It's very annoying.

    After Hurricane Ike, we were without electricity for two weeks. 15 days without air conditioning, and it gets hot and so HUMID here (Texas). I was okay with not having the internet, etc. It was the lack of an AC (the heat can kill ya here, and one of my poor dogs got really sick one day), and candlelight that bothered me. I learned back then that flashlight batteries die after being on for just a few minutes. They were pretty useless, and candlelight wasn't much better.

    When the electricity finally came back on, I felt like I was hooked up to a power grid. I mean this literally. I felt so overstimulated. It truly was one of the strangest feelings to feel so disconnected from the world for so long, and then... BAM!!! You're back in the "real world," only it feels alien to you now.


    1. Hi Kristin! Thank you for stopping by and commenting :)

      And, wow! Two weeks is a lot of time. And I thought 3 days were a big deal!
      I find it very interesting that you felt so overstimulated when electricity came back. Your brain was already adapting to being disconnected!...