Offline in Berlin

photos: Valerie-Siba Rousparast

You might have been there. Trying to refresh a page, wanting to check your mail and scroll through some weird GIF’s to wake up and start the day. But nothing works and by every time you click to reload you slowly realize: your Wifi doesn’t work. This is every digital native’s nightmare. Or is it?

I recently stumbled into the recurring situation of being out of internet in my apartment. In the beginning I could use my smartphone as a hotspot for my laptop and at least got some work done (and caught up with some Netflix addictions, um). But when I also ran out of 3G and my phone displayed a sad, sad “E”, I had to improvise. And it wasn’t the worst thing happening to me.

At first I entered a stage of deep frustration, loneliness and despair. I felt helpless. What would happen, if I went outside and didn’t know the directions? I would get lost! I just knew it. How would I remember birthdays during the next days or basically communicate at all? You can tell by now, I was a pretty pathetic piece of addict suddenly deprived of their drug, the Internet.

Then I started to arrange with my new living situation. I started looking around with open eyes in my apartment again, which lead to an intense session of decluttering and re-arranging. Exhausted by this I sat on my couch in the quiet (I am one of those people that don’t own music in any offline analogue way anymore) and thought. I calmed down, took a book, read it, laid around some more, looked out of the window. Afterwards I felt like I hadn’t felt in a while: sorted. As if my brain finally had time to slow down and turn from hectic chaos in just a decluttered state as my apartment.

But of course I couldn’t stay inside all alone with my books forever. After a while I got bored with myself, so I ran outside in desperate need of interaction. Since I hadn’t been chatting on Whatsapp and Facebook all day I felt calm but also a bit alone. It was time for some talking IRL. I called a friend and we set a date for a coffee place I hadn’t been to before and on the way of course I got lost, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I remembered the time, when I had freshly moved to Berlin and took a wrong turn once in a while on purpose to see the city, walk streets I didn’t know yet and to find who knows what. So, I started to enjoy this extra mile as well, indulged everything that I saw and after I had seen enough, asked a kind stranger for the way and got immediate help which was a thousand times nicer than any sentence by Mrs. Google maps.

While on my way I walked with open eyes, sat on the Ubahn and caught one or two smiles, realizing how friendly Berliners are outside of Tinder, where sometimes all you get as a first interaction is “Wanna f***?” Exchanging looks and giggling, when your eyes meet isn’t impossible with a Tinder date that is for sure. But outside of your phone you get this cute flirt action going immediately without the digital chit-chat beforehand, naturally. So, as cool as I think social networking apps are, because they bring together people that otherwise never would’ve met and I have friends, who without thinking state “I wouldn’t even know how to flirt anymore without Tinder”, I do like to be reminded that it is possible to have magical moments outside of your comfort zone in the wilderness of the city.

After all this contemplation I had done already, I felt like it was enough thinking. I wanted to go out, dance my way through Berlin, which suddenly became so much easier than on a normal weekend. I couldn’t check all the event apps that I love, but decided for one event with friends, went there, danced through the night, didn’t have to watch every step on Instagram Stories the next days, because I couldn’t and had the tired hangover time all to myself again, start the day without reliving the last night. And there i saw it: the lights on my router started to blink again.

After this offline moment I realized how lucky I am to be one of those kids of the 80s that still remember a life before the Internet. I love social media and I basically live inside my laptop, but still I treasure those moments and images of times when there was no computer, no smartphone that would interrupt whatever was being lived in the analog world.

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<a href="" target="_self">Valerie</a>