An involuntary digital detox could be on the cards if you’re in Bali next weekend.
March 17 is Nyepi – Balinese Hindu New Year and the ‘Day of Silence’ – and if a religious group has its way, the island could be sent into total internet shutdown.
The country’s leading authority on Hinduism, Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), is campaigning for authorities to make the move, which would mean the suspension of home broadband and 4G services for 24 hours from 6am on March 17.
One of the reasons for this proposed ban? To discourage people from constantly taking selfies and uploading them to social media.
Read more: 5 great places to stay in Bali
For the sacred day of Nyepi is a time for self-reflection, not self-promotion. Everyone is expected to follow the age-old custom of staying inside, refraining from doing any physical work or travel, and not using lights. It’s a bit like some of the traditions Jewish people follow during Shabbat – but everyone is supposed to follow the Nyepi traditions on Bali, even if you’re not a Hindu or not a local and just enjoying a holiday away from home in Australia. Even the island’s international airport is closed for the 24-hour period. To make sure everyone complies, the streets of Bali are monitored by traditional neighbourhood security, called pecalang.
The ancient tradition stems from the Balinese belief that mythical evil spirits come out at new year. By switching off all lights and hiding away, the locals trick the spirits into thinking that Bali is deserted, thereby keeping them safe from harm.
The proposed internet ban has received some pretty high-level attention, with certain top-ranking officials – including the governor and a police inspector – weighing in to add their support of the shutdown. But don't worry just yet – no official order has been made so far, and a similar attempt last year failed. However, the island’s major telecom providers have gone so far to say that if a decree is issued by the governmentto suspend services, they will comply.
It’s news that’s likely to cause more distress to millennials than Travel at 60 readers, but is still something to be considered if you’re heading to the Island of the Gods next weekend.