Internet Exile, Part Two

(Internet Exile, Part One)

Two quick observations after avoiding the Internet for a week:

  • Wow, I waste a lot of time on the Internet.
  • Man, I love the Internet.

My students were born in 1998. They are shocked to hear about the world I grew up in, the world before the Internet, ATMs, and cell phones. (If they do picture it, it is a hazy world with horses and buggies traveling down the dusty road and overly fancy children churning butter.)

I tell them that if an argument broke out around the kitchen table about a misremembered fact, we would call the public library to ask the librarian to look it up for us. As a teenager, if I couldn’t make it to the bank by 4 p.m. on a Friday to cash my check, I was out of luck with no money for the entire weekend. When my car broke down on the side of the highway, I walked down the exit to find a public pay phone at a gas station.

So while I didn’t break out the butter churn this past week, I did feel strange avoiding the Internet in the limited way that I did. I only gave up “recreational” Internet use, so I still used it for work, and I checked my personal email sporadically to arrange a freelance writing job. I did have a few moments of “needing” to jump on the Internet that I had to resist.

  • The song “Pictures of Matchstick Men” has been stuck in my head all week, and I just can’t decide if it’s “When I look up to the skies, I see your eyes a funny” kind? shade? “of yellow.”
  • After learning about India’s caste system in social studies class, a student told me that a Korn album is called “Untouchables,” and I couldn’t check out the cover.
  • I came across the word “valetudinarian” while reading, and I had to hunt down a dictionary to discover that Mr. Woodhouse is “a person who is excessively concerned about his or her poor health or ailments.”
  • I arrived at my destination before an NPR story about a new book that sounded interesting, and I couldn’t follow up at home later that night.

My biggest revelation, though, was how much I loved this challenge. I waste a lot of time doing nothing on the Internet!

I don’t want to go back to that, but I have such an all or nothing kind of personality. I hope to find the middle way.

Aside from convenience, the biggest culprit is habit. If I pour myself a cup of coffee, I want to sit down and jump online. Breakfast at the kitchen table with a book felt very odd. As the week wore on, though, that compulsive feeling of needing to check things did lessen. Now that the habit is broken, will I jump on less?

In the young adult novel Feed by M.T. Anderson, the Internet is jacked directly into people’s brains when they are babies, and they surf nonstop in a dystopian future.

Dystopian? Part of me thought it sounded pretty cool.

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
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8 Responses to Internet Exile, Part Two

  1. I so get this; I live and work on the internet. I’m on here all the time. It’s 7.30am here, I’ve just finished breakfast while reading Rewind posts and backing up my blog on my desktop, and checking out the Digital Parents blogazine on my iPad. It was a cold rainy day here yesterday, so I spent the day planning my new blog.

    I think it’s time I made a conscious decision to step away from the computer….
    Tenille @ Help!Mum recently posted..Rhubarb Yoghurt MuffinsMy Profile

  2. MultipleMum says:

    A fantastic challenge – I did a weekend offline earlier in the year but a whole week? I reckon you’d need to go for a month to really ‘break the habit’ but it is interesting that the old ways (e.g. looking things up in a dictionary) are still there. I remember when the internet first came in and I thought, ‘what could you possibly need it for?’ Huh! Thanks for Rewinding x
    MultipleMum recently posted..Weekend Rewind – The ‘zero comment’ editionMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      I remember thinking I wouldn’t use the Internet for much either. I was in a focus group one time in the early days, and I answered I wouldn’t use it to look up movie times or restaurant menus or anything like that. I had dial-up then, and it took forever to do anything!

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  4. Jennifer says:

    If I was a stronger person, I would totally take this challenge. Maybe I’ll make it part of my 3 in 30 challenge for the month, and select a week, or maybe 2 days a week that I just don’t touch the internet. I think I can, I think I can…
    Jennifer recently posted..The year of "clarity"My Profile

    • Marcy says:

      Let me know how it goes if you try it. I think I would find it harder now because I am much more into blogging and reading other blogs now than I was then.

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