I remember when my elementary school library acquired a white fuzzy squeaky mouse the likes of Cinderella fairy tales. At least that’s what we thought when we heard of the mouse for the computer in the library. What sort of mouse? We wondered. Some kind of souped up robot-mouse? Do we shout out what we wish to type and it hops as instructed on the keypad?
We’ve come a long way from hypothetical robot-mice, pay per minute dial-up, and you’ve got mail! The computer and corresponding internet has gone from a novelty to a medium we cannot live without.
Or can we?
Everywhere I go, parks, doctor’s offices, restaurants, in line at the store, I see people poring over their smartphones, staring at an iPad and wonder what important work they’re doing with furrowed brows and a look of complete absorption. Inevitably its Facebook. Or twitter. And lately- those people? Are me [Although– thank you new FB for making my head hurt, I’ve logged in only once since]. I’ve known life without complete internet dependency and see the difference it’s made in my life. I read less. I write less. When the phone bings, I check it. Almost immediately. I read blogs, check e-mails, but sometimes one link leads to another and I’ve spent an hour I could have worked on a short story or read a book just surfing– and while that can be useful, most times its not especially when its time spent immersed in social media– I mean, did I really need to spend twenty minutes looking at pictures of a facebook ‘friend’s’ parent’s cousin’s best friend’s in laws’ thirtieth wedding anniversary? There are benefits to the instant gratification the internet provides, but there are drawbacks. I’m thankful I don’t tie my self-worth to my on-line life- but facebook, twitter, they can have damning consequences and we can forget that life is lived on the dirt we stand on, the people having dinner across from us, not the ‘friends’ we accumulate and count and tally. If we’re on-line too long, too frequently, checking on every bing, and ping like the classic Pavlov’s Dog- we have the potential to lose sight of that- and that? That’s frightening.
Three months ago we cut our cable. I anticipated methadone shots to deal with the withdrawals of the steady background noise of TV during the quiet moments my son was asleep or otherwise engaged- but nothing. I still watched TV via discs since I’m not anti-TV, but the background chatter vanished. Once it was gone I realized I didn’t need it at all.
Do I need the internet? Will I jitter without it? I want to know. I want to see how my life will improve [or not] if I cut it out. I want to know what it’s like without instant gratification at the touch of my fingertips. I want to rid myself of the potential descent into a life in which the internet controls me, and not the other way around.
So for one week, I’m unplugging. Not entirely. As nice as it would be to be all or nothing, I’m in the middle of a few high-priority situations which require access to the internet. So the plan is simple: For one week: disable my phone notifications, check and reply to e-mails/blog comments, twice a day [morning and night] and nothing else. It’s just a week. But I’m curious. Will I learn to enjoy the pleasure of my company, read books, play with my son more? Or will I huddle in a corner with the shakes. [Methadone is not a cure-all after all.] In any case will update a week from today [or sooner if I fail spectacularly– which, I might].
Wish me luck! Ever unplugged? Ever consider unplugging? Curious for thoughts on this!
Day One: Well, so much for sticking to my rule for twice a day internet. While I’ve stayed away from facebook, twitter, and web-hopping, I’ve definitely checked my e-mail about five times. Still. Better than nothing. But not better than the plan. Will aim for stronger willpower tomorrow!
Day Two: Does it get worse before it gets better? That phone of mine is the hardest thing because a simple click and I check in on my e-mail– and yes I’ve even clicked on a few links and read them. A lot lower than normal internet usage but not the unplugging I wanted. The thing is, w/out notifications I just check it more to see if I missed anything. Very counter productive! And while someone reading might laugh at me, try to be w/out interent for one day- completely- and see how you feel. You don’t realize how completely dependent you’ve grown on the medium until you try to quit it. It’s honestly scary. This weekend is super busy and I wont be near a computer so as long as I can tame my e-mail checking abilities on my smart-phone Seriously wanted to regale you with stories of internet-free zen-bliss. Seriously disappointed 😦