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7 stories of people who were off grid during major events and came back to a changed world

On February 19, 2020, a group of outdoor adventurists took a 25-day rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. During the trip, they had no cell service and no contact with the outside world. When they ended they ended their journey on March 14, the man who pulled them ashore asked if they had been in touch with anyone else. When the rafters said no, the man sighed, then launched into an explanation of how the globe had been gripped by the coronavirus pandemic and everything had come to a screeching halt.

The rafters listened with bewilderment as they were told about toilet paper shortages and the NBA season being canceled and everyone being asked to stay at home. One of the river guides, who had done these kinds of off-grid excursions multiple times, said that they'd often joke about coming back to a completely different world—it had just never actually happened before.

The rafters' story was shared in the New York Times last spring, but they're not the only ones to have had such an experience.


Twitter user @thought_grime shared a mind-blowing story of a man who came extraordinarily late to the pandemic party last winter.

"I will never forget the guy who came into my work this past December with no mask on saying, 'Can somebody please tell me what's going on!!??'" they wrote. "We gave him a mask, learned that he had been living off the grid for a while, and had not yet learned that there was a global pandemic. He was so sweet and so confused and he said he only came to town because he ran out of oats."

People who live that far off the grid for that long are rare, but they exist. It's hard to imagine being that unplugged from society, but even those who disconnect even temporarily can find themselves returning to a world that's very different than the one they left, sometimes just days before.

Imagine being backwoods camping when 9/11 happened. Or when the Soviet Union fell. Imagine coming back to a world forever changed by a major event you had no idea had occurred.

It's hard to imagine now with everyone carrying internet-enabled cell phones, but even being disconnected for a matter of hours can leave a person feeling dazed and confused if they miss a major event. There were some people who didn't know their loved ones were safe after 9/11 hours after it had happened, and even some people who didn't know it had happened.

We've become accustomed to news coming to us in real- time, but it wasn't that long ago that news of only extraordinary news events warranted interrupting regular television programming. And prior to television, news came out only as fast as word of mouth and print newspapers could carry it.

These days, it's generally people who have chosen to live in isolation or those who are living someplace remote who find themselves blindsided by major world changes that they missed.

For instance, imagine what it was like for this team of science researchers studying on a remote atoll 1300 miles from Hawaii, who returned to civilization—and a raging pandemic they hadn't heard about—in December.

Isolated Science Researchers Learn of Pandemic 8 Months Inwww.youtube.com

Absolutely wild.

There are other instances of people missing out on news as well, either due to being in a coma or in prison or some other circumstance.


Living in the age of constant connectedness and instant information makes these kinds of stories all the more incredible, and perhaps ironically, also makes them more accessible to more people. The fact that some of us can miss big things due to a lack of technology, and then utilize the technology we were lacking to share that experience with millions is a sort of surreal sign of the times.

What a weird and wonderful time to be a human.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

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This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

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This article originally appeared on 01.22.19


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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