technology free

Life (Goes On) Without Internet

Image //  via

Image // via

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?     

Image //  via

Image // via

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.  

Unplugged: Life Lessons from 5 Days Without a Cell Phone

image //  via

image // via

Earlier this month I took a quick to Chicago to help my parents get their home of 30 years ready to sell (it didn't hurt that this happened while I was there:).  

And in the chaos of airport security at 10pm on a Saturday night and my excitement over being midwest bound, I forgot my phone.  

Must have left it right on the conveyor belt where it fell out of my bag and I didn't notice it's absence until I trudged all the way to my gate at the end of the International Terminal.  

The Search.

I'm trying to text my dad that I'm getting ready to board and the flight is on time when I realize it's missing.

Start moving things around my purse.  Check the pocket my phone is normally in.  Pat down my pants and jacket pocket.  Re-check purse, vigorously pushing books and eye masks side-to-side.  Nervously pat down all parts of my clothes that could possibly contain a phone (sweater sleeve, anyone?).  Re-check purse pockets.  Open up books.  

And finally, pull out each item one at a time checking to see if my wallet or Lara Bar mysteriously ate or absorbed my phone.

Real life.  No cell phone.  5 days.  

Now don't get me wrong, I love to leave my phone off on weekends in the country.  I relish campsites with no service.  A week on the beach is best spent without internet.  Unplugging on a vacation is the only type of vacation for me.

But this was different guys.  I had to live my real life -- work, emails, calls that expect return, weekdays, news apps that need to be read -- without my electronic pacifier.  For 5 days.

My gut reaction when I realized I didn't have my phone?  

To sprint back through two terminals, likely missing my flight and the one time I've ever sat first class* in my entire life because I hoped my cell was at security.  

My second reaction?  To text Cam and tell him I lost my cell.  

My third?  This is so boring, I should check Instagram.  

My fourth?  I should respond to those emails before they close the doors.

And so on until at about option 20 when I --gasp-- struck up a conversation with my seatmate.  

He shared a few funny stories about his reunion weekend he'd just been at and showed me photos of his adorable daughter. Then I read briefly, then I fell into blissful sleep (for the 3 remaining hours of the flight).

It was weird to wake up on the other side of my brief redeye flight and not know if my dad was coming to pick me up.  It was a little stressful when the free O'Hare cab phone didn't seem to be in service.  It felt strange to not tell Cam I'd landed safely.  

Slowly, I got used to it.  

I watched the sunrise over the old familiar landscape as the cab floated down the highway home. Cam and I reverted back to the philosophy my parents and I used in my year living in Phnom Penh and my subsequent months of traveling solo: no news is good news.

And then, by day two or three (after the withdrawal symptoms had faded) it was suddenly easy.  

I looked up directions before I left for an errand.  I got used to the boredom and frustration of sitting in standstill traffic and waiting in lines without my phone to distract me.  I set aside time for things I would normally do throughout the day: check email, text, read news.  

Then all of the sudden it was amazing.  Liberating.  Spacious.  Free.  

And that list above?  It's full of my heavy-hitting, most desired feelings.  Which got me thinking that this cell-free thing would be nice to integrate into my regular life.

Now don't get me wrong, my cell phone is my lifeline between me and my family.  Facetime is the only reason I can stand living 3 time zones from my nephews and niece.  Being able to take high quality photographs and respond to emails while on a quick break from working with a client -- they help our business go 'round.

But I use my phone for so much more than that.  To pass the time, distract myself.  To feel very important.  To structure my time (reactively).  In doing so I miss the people and experiences around me.  Boring, amazing, and everything in between.

And let's face it, most of life happens in between.


Could you go cell-free?

Join me in spending just an hour or two tonight with your cell phone on airplane mode.  Or try making your commute to work on Tuesday with your cell phone off.  Or even go to dinner with a loved one and leave your phone at home (!).

Share your cell free experiences in the comments below or on Facebook!

*The top reason for last minute travel?  First class tickets for redeye flights from SFO-ORD (11pm PST - 4:15am CST) are the same number of miles as coach.  #BALLER

340-Squared: Life Without Internet

Hello New Minimalists, Kyle here!  

While you already know that we are big fans of reducing physical clutter, we also have a passion for removing "time clutter" from our own spaces.  Cary gave up TV a few months ago (and loves it).  Around the same time I stopped my internet service.  Read on to learn more about Live Without Internet!  

It started as an experiment.  

How long I could “last” without it?  I find it entertaining that the question was dramatically posed as if it was a matter of life and death.  But with semantics aside, I thought it would be interesting see how much of this “need” was perceived versus real.  My motivation was two-fold: save money AND keep my home as the sanctuary I intended it to be. 

Live without TV vs. Life without Internet

I have not had a television for the last six years, so that was nothing new.  But internet?  We all know that the internet can still satisfy the appetite for television.  And I have happily engaged in commercial-free entertainment on my laptop.  But a few years back I read this quote, “Television has all the fun so that you don’t have to,” and it stuck with me.  Moving into my own space seemed like a great time to try out internet-free life.  

And so far?  No one has died as a result.  In fact, the biggest impact I’ve seen is that I have plenty of time to cook, clean and read when I am at home.  I also enjoy all three of those activities (yes, even cleaning), so is a pleasure to engage in them. 

In case of emergencies...

I'm not completely off the grid when I'm at home.  I still have my phone with wireless capabilities.  The world wide web is accessible when, for example, I need to lookup an address or the hours of a store.  If I couldn’t do that on occassion, I would be calling 411 a lot (which would defeat the whole money-saving purpose).  

I can also check my email or go online in a pinch.  But looking at a teeny, tiny screen deters me from entering an internet black hole.  Oh, and my microphone is broken and we all know muted videos are simply no fun.

Scrabble anyone?

The best benefit of Life Without Internet?  When my boyfriend is over, we are present with each other.  We listen to records.  We play games, like Scrabble and chess.  And we talk and make dinner together.  I have a small collection of DVDs, so we can watch a movie if the mood strikes. Sometimes we cuddle up and scroll through Instagram, but it is a joint activity. 

Without the omnipresent glow of a screen my home retains its retreat qualities, my guests and I are fully present with one another, and I am happier as a result.  

What do you think?