Hello dear readers, Kyle, the other half of NM here. I’ve been living internet-free for 18 months now and it’s time for a check-in. Yep, that’s a year and a half without internet at home! It’s gone by quickly and I must say that the pros strongly outweigh the cons. There have been moments of falter and frustration, but overall, I am quite happy with the decision and do not think I could go back.
Since beginning this experiment of technological abstinence, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was not terribly difficult. Leading up to this point, I had started to become more conscientious of my “screen time” and knew that I was more productive and emotionally grounded with less of it. Was I going to pick up that book I’ve been meaning to read when I had the ability to fall deep into a warm and fuzzy Freaks & Geeks marathon? I think not. But now, without entertainment at my fingertips, in my moments of free time I find that I clean, I read, or I write a blog post, like this one. These are all activities I enjoy and contribute to my overall well-being but I did not always set aside the time to do.
There are a few reasons I can identify that have made this internet-free pursuit feasible for me:
1. I have regular internet access outside of my home:
For three days each week I work in an office with quick and reliable internet access. During this time at the office, while I am busy with other work, I still find time to answer emails and basically be “in-touch”. For these three days I am hyper efficient with my online time, because I know that if I do not use it wisely, I will have to find another way to access internet.
Do you have access to internet in your weekly routine? If so, maybe going internet-free is the right challenge for you.
2. I use a smart phone:
If I need to look-up an address or read an email, I can use my phone. Yes, I guess technically I have access to the World Wide Web. But it’s not like I’m going to stare at my itty bitty phone for hours on end. I would say I max out at about 20 minutes of Instagram perusing.
3. I have a “third place”:
If I need to write a lengthy email with hyperlinks sourcing furniture, etc., I will walk the 3.5 blocks to my gym where they have a café with wifi. This has been my other saving grace. I have a “third-place” where I can casually pop in and have a concentrated hour of work. Also what is great about this strategy is that it has the effect of feeling like you are in a foreign country using an internet café. For some reason it’s like the little timer at the bottom of the screen is counting down fast and so I better finish this task, STAT. Also, it would be weird if I were just hanging out at the gym cruising Facebook, right?
My moment of falter:
At one point last winter I noticed that my boyfriend Johnnie was becoming frustrated with the internet runaround. He is a full-time freelancer and does not have the three-day-a-week internet access that I do. Feeling guilty for making him internet-less, while concurrently insisting that we stay at my house most nights (geez I’m demanding), I thought, maybe we should have internet. Still basking in the glory of not paying $80 per month, I approached my neighbor to see if she would be interested in sharing her internet connection. Being that our building is comprised of all studio apartments, how stringent could her internet demands be?
Well, apparently this is not a normal thing to ask your neighbor. She played it off as if she were open to the idea of cutting her bill in half. But when we parted ways I suppose that she conjured up all the ways in which this seemingly innocuous union could go awry. Maybe I was planning to download massive amounts of illegal content? Maybe I would stream action movies day and night, and not only would she hear the intermittent explosions through her wall, but she would also have a slower connection as a result?
I’m not sure of the reason. But I do know that after asking twice, and never receiving the log-in information, I decided that Johnnie actually didn’t need internet at my house. He could find a way around it, right? And we’ve made it work.
Try the internet-free life, even for short spurts.
So while there are minor inconveniences of living internet-free, overall it has been Amazing with a capital A. And I urge you to try it! You don’t have to cancel your subscription immediately, but try turning off your modem for an entire week, or month. Convince your partner/children/roommates that it will be a fun experiment and see how it goes. You might find that it’s not so hard after all.