No Wi-Fi, by choice

‘You don’t miss much when you’re not online’

Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube: ever since Cristian Stefan moved into his new room in September, he doesn’t use any of them. He has no Wi-Fi. ‘It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.’
By Tamara Uildriks / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

To Wi-Fi, or not to Wi-Fi? That was the question facing third-year physics student Cristian Stefan and his roommate when they moved into a new room in September. After all, internet is expensive, and did they really need it? Cristian: ‘I was secretly quite happy when my roommate didn’t want it. I feel a lot freer without Wi-Fi.’

Living without the internet was not an entirely new experience for Cristian. ‘I dropped my phone in the sea during the summer and had to go without for a few weeks. It made me feel really free.’ He also didn’t have Wi-Fi when he lived with his girlfriend. ‘It was really relaxing, so I knew that I could handle it.’

His disconnected life hasn’t been a problem. ‘In the beginning I would often grab my phone without even thinking about it. It had become such a habit.’ He kicked that habit in a few days. ‘I couldn’t receive any messages, so there was nothing to see.’

Cristian didn’t always live like this. ‘I was a real addict’, he says, laughing. ‘In high school I would watch YouTube videos for three hours a day, and sometimes even six on the weekends.’ It got better when he started university, but he realised it still took up a lot of his time. ‘At least my roommate watched interesting stuff. I just watched stupid nonsense.’


He wasted all his time watching YouTube videos. ‘I didn’t even care what I watched, and when you get that low you find yourself watching the absolute dregs of YouTube- like vlogs, which are so boring. It clearly meant my own life wasn’t interesting enough. Or I wasn’t doing anything to make it interesting.’

He sees life without Wi-Fi as an improvement. ‘I understand you need Wi-Fi if you use the internet for informative, useful things. But I didn’t.’

Looking back, Cristian knows he was addicted. ‘That might sound a bit intense, but addicts use their addictive behaviour to numb their daily thoughts or issues.’

He feels his mental health has improved significantly. ‘I notice that I’m much more focused. I have nothing to distract me from my own thoughts anymore, so I’ve got a lot more time to think about things.’

Good thing

Cristian sees this as a good thing. ‘I got to know myself better, my thoughts and emotions.’ But he doesn’t necessarily think everyone should – or could – do the same. ‘It can be good for you, but it can be pretty challenging as well. So you have to be strong and be able to handle it. I don’t think I could have done this a few years ago.’

These days, he takes more initiative to meet up with friends; he doesn’t just wait for them to message him first. ‘There’s nothing to do at home but sleep and eat. I have quite a few friends, so there’s always someone available to meet up with.’

Even his sleep is more productive than it used to be. ‘I sleep much more at night and in the morning. But I don’t spend as much time in bed in the morning because I’m not always looking at my phone.

And it’s not only his nights that are more restful; he’s now got a great afternoon nap routine to recover from busy days, as well. ‘I wouldn’t have those if I was always looking at my phone. When you’re on your phone you’re in this state of half sleep, and you wake up exhausted.’

Deliberate choices

Cristian feels better about the way he spends his time, because those choices are much more deliberate. ‘I used to feel guilty when I wasn’t studying, mainly because I would just go online. But now I make more deliberate choices: I’m spending more time skateboarding, and I’ve made more friends through that. I even read half a book this semester.’

He also finds himself working more consistently. ‘I used to procrastinate online a lot. That made me feel guilty and I’d spend less time studying. That doesn’t happen anymore now that I don’t have internet.’ But there are drawbacks as well. ’I find myself smoking and drinking more. That’s in part because I live on my own and spend a lot of time with friends. But it’s also another way of distracting myself.’

All in all, Cristian is very happy with his Wi-Fi-free life. ‘I can’t think of a reason why I would change. And so I won’t.’ He would advise people to try living without internet. ‘You might not think so, but you don’t miss much when you can’t go online at home. You end up feeling better and spending your time more wisely.’


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