At 15, Caleb Silverberg made the most important decision of his life. He ditched technology and headed to the forest.
Everything old is new again. Congratulations Caleb, on discovering authenticity and humanity—it’s been waiting for you.
This seems like a model that should be replicated across all age groups...we are all beset by digital distractions and lack of meaning and purpose. Right now what little exists seems to be coliving and kibbutzim. I'd be curious what's out there for "normies" -- adults with jobs, families...that connects back to the land and to communal purpose.
Oh, what is this feeling? Is it...hope? To return to our roots, use our bodies the way they were designed, and connect with each other? What a great piece. I was mostly horrified at the dystopian scene of the high school hallways where no one speaks and everyone has AirPods in. That makes sense, I just am horrified for the reality to be confirmed. And the kids really don’t know anything different. That’s the scary part.
I hope more Midlands are created. We need them.
I was struck, however, by the irony that the rest of us are all commenting and communicating electronically.
I had the occasion a few months back to connect with Yang Peng, a commenter here and author of his own Substack. We met up for nice lunch and got to talk for a few hours. Wondering if Bari might sponsor some regional meetings. We could even invite Comprof. Well,,,,maybe, lol.
This essay is a hopeful one and an inspiring read. I have one hesitation. There was something that caused Caleb to apply to Midland in the first place; some part of him wanted that experience more than he was addicted to his phone. Any sense of what it was? Any sense of how to nudge more young people who lack the initial inclination along this path?
This seems like a system that delivers good outcomes to students. However at $73,900/year tuition (their website also lists lots of financial aid options) it’s probably not for everyone.
As parents I think our job is to bring as much of the good parts of immersive boarding schools like this into our normal home / school / activities lives with our kids.
I know Boy Scouts of America gets a bad rap these days, and mostly self-inflicted. But my three sons were Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts with one becoming an Eagle Scout. Our troop had a rule that we camped once a month, except February. Typically most scouts signed up for the two week summer camp where they slept in tents under screen netting draped over their cots. BSA is a great way to get young teens outside, away from screens, learn, and grow from adversity and leadership imposed on them as they climbed the ranks to Eagle. Oh yeah, and they chopped a lot of wood.
well done Caleb … on all fronts. 👏
Did you use your ax to smash your smartphone?
I was all for this until I saw the tuition to Midland is $70k+. Sweet Jesus! It's expensive to live on a hippie compound these days. Is it impossible for the FP to escape elitism even within the teenage demographic?
I hope Caleb can publish his article on social media to serve as a Public Service Announcement.
Kudos to the Midland School for providing an experiential immersive whole person education for high schoolers with community responsibilities and consequences. Fail to do your duty and you disappoint everyone counting on you. No formal punishment consequence required.
Responsibility, accountability and daily opportunities engaging with people in person are the simple antidotes to a satisfying life.
Thank you Caleb for all that you shared.
Good job Caleb. I was at Meijer yesterday and these two young men (~20 yrs) were chatting excitedly. They were both ghost white in the middle of summer, and I correctly guessed the topic before I walked into earshot: video games.
Not girls, not partying, not a trip, but video games.
It's rotting our society from within.
The curse of a generation: the tyranny of a meaningless routine and the addictive quality of technology combine to create literal "TechnoZombies." How wonderful to bathe in water warmed by your own labors and realize the synergy of a meaningful life! How wise you were Caleb to recognize and drag yourself out of the malaise! Well done!
Great essay, Caleb! Thank you!
Great read - you’re eons ahead of your peers, my friend.
This couldn't be more timely for me. We had to resort to sending our 16 year old to a military boarding school this year where there is no internet access of phones. His addiction to Tik Tok and Instagram had taken over his life. I could take away his phone, yes... but the schools insist they come with iPads and screens. There was no way to fight the problem. His grades were tanking and the future seemed bleak. His confidence was at an all time low and a drastic approach seemed like our only approach.
I admire Caleb's maturity in recognizing the problem and doing something about it. I truly do not think there is any other teenager out there able to do this on his own without a parent pushing them. The internet is destroying our kids and it just seems like a force for evil anymore.