The refreshing lack of access to social media and movie streaming websites is one of my favorite parts about being in China. While in the United States, I probably check my Facebook an upwards of five times per day, not out of need but merely out of boredom. The Office (U.S.) TV show is constantly playing in the background leaving me little chance to soak myself in silence. I often even fell asleep to the sound of Michael Scott’s voice in the background instead of meditating on the day or figuring out the solution to a stressful problem. In reality, it prevents me from staying focused on a single task for very long. My mouse wanders from pointless website to pointless website, trying to find some simple game or amusing picture to take my mind off of my studies, which ends up turning into thirty minutes or an hour of wasted time. I would check my phone on and off, maybe send a text to a random contact or two in hopes of getting a conversation to last long enough to distract me for another thirty minutes. I didn’t realize how constantly connected I was to the world and the limits it brought upon me until I came to China. My phone, Facebook, and especially Netflix were always used as outs to retreat out of stressful situation, and now I realize that avoiding my problems made me even more stressed than worrying about it for a day or two then moving on.
Now in China when I don’t have access to Facebook, my phone is sitting on my bed at home, and Netflix is certainly out of the question due to the internet, I have no choice but to do my homework and deal with my problems. Instead of wasting time on filler content, I read online books or read the latest world news article on BBC, which in my opinion is much better than Facebook. Instead of watching Netflix till I fall asleep, I think and let my mind wander, which in my opinion has led me to become more in tune with my own needs and the needs of my brain. Also without my phone, I feel comfortable without the constant reliance on Google Maps to get me around the city or the temptation to call my parents whenever something goes wrong. Although I always had a strong sense of independence and can function well enough on my own without having to call my parents every week, my phone was never more than an arm’s length away just as a security measure. However, when I return to the United States there will be again be those same temptations to retreat back into my addictions. Though the first couple days I will probably eat a large cheese pizza (and later regret it), watch The Office for the first time in a month or two, and waste some time away on the internet, I hope that my good habits formed in China will carry on into my senior year at William and Mary.