Meet the Town With No Wi-Fi

Connecting with others by leaving mobile phones behind.

Meet the Town With No Wi-Fi | Connecting with others by leaving mobile phones behind.

This article is by Goodness Exchange, an online platform celebrating the wave of goodness and progress well underway all around the world. View the original article here.

You’ve probably thought about taking a break from social media from time to time, but can you imagine living without social media or cell phones entirely? This small town in West Virginia, USA, does just that. And though the reason is out of this world, the result can sometimes connect us deeper to our humanity.

For the 182 residents of Green Bank, West Virginia, modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, cellphones, microwaves, and even digital cameras are a thing of the outside world. You see, this town neighbors the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope; a piece of technology that allows scientists to observe everything from the formation of stars to the remnants of the big bang. And in order for these arrays to listen to the most “remote whispers of the universe” they require no interference from the ground. So, what is life like in a community without cell phones or Wi-Fi? Are there some lessons that we can learn from a community living in an era from not so long ago?

“Do you have Wi-Fi?”
Construction on the Green Bank Observatory began in 1957. One year later, to protect the sensitive technology, the federal government established a National Radio Quiet Zone, spanning 13,000-square-miles and enveloping the town of Green Bank.

The restrictions on this town have allowed for a return to a type of community connection that was common in the not-so-distant past. In the absence of Wi-Fi, which we’ve all become accustomed to, the lives of the residents of Green Bank shed some light on what we may be missing out on in our hyper-connected world. See how this town does itin the video above!

You can check out some of the discoveries the Green Bank Telescope has made here or on their website, where you can dive deeper into all that they are finding in their studies. Or, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, you can also visit the Green Bank Observatory in person to learn about this magnificent telescope and in doing so, help fund the wonderful work they are doing there.

You can also read this really interesting piece from the New York Times that takes a look at the positive but complex impact Green Bank’s disconnected community has on its teenagers. The perspectives they bring up about teens’ mental health, social skills, and a deeper connection to the natural world are interesting to think about.

What we learn from other ways of life…
In the name of science, Green Bank has committed to living a lifestyle with limited digital connections. From this perspective, we can imagine what that would look like for us, and perhaps even take a moment to reflect on how much of our lives are spent in the digital world.

Would we really feel comfortable knocking on our neighbor’s door to ask for a cup of sugar, or would we rather just use DoorDash? How often do we find ourselves absorbed in the curated lives of our Facebook or Instagram feeds when the people we love are sitting all around us? 

What could we gain if we spent more time just in the quiet presence of others or just ourselves and a good book?

Learning about other people’s ways of life gives us a way to reflect on our own habits and entrenched ways of doing things. Maybe we can’t (or don’t want to) disconnect our Wi-Fi routers, but maybe, we can experiment with disconnecting for a few hours a day and see how we feel. Perhaps we could discover a new way of living that better serves our mental health and our relationships with one another. 

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