And I’m a better Freecell player for it.
So, a few quick caveats. This was not a conscious choice of mine, or a vow, so I won’t pretend that I didn’t use the Internet during the last 11 weeks. Why didn’t we have the internet… well, it’s a bit of a long story. Instead, I used the Internet at the library or the coffee shop and for less than 2-3 hours every week. It was refreshing to be without Internet (in a really frustrating kind of way) and it did cause me to critically examine some of the things I thought I knew about the internet.
To be honest, I think about the way I use the Internet a lot as you can see from these posts here and here. So this is another attempt to sort out some of the knowledge that I’ve gained about this beast that has now crept into our house and lives even more so than television.
- I wasn’t actually spending as much time on the Internet as I thought I was, or at least, it wasn’t the usable time I imagined. If you asked me 12 weeks ago how much time I spent on the internet each day, I
probably would havesaid 3 hours or more each day. I would have ruefully admitted that if I could give up the internet I would gain a lot of time to read, or make my own pastry dough, or learn to juggle. Actually, this wasn’t true. I may have gained some time on the surface, but a lot of it was “unusable” time. The fifteen minutes between activities, the ten minutes while waiting for water to boil. The six minutes after I finished exercising, but before I took a shower. What I actually do during that time without the Internet is: make mental lists and pick up Ethan’s toys. Or I stare into space. It just so happens with a wireless connection I stare vacantly at webpages in space.
- Blogging is no fun without the Internet. No feedback. No community.
- The Internet is a tool, but it is not the tool for every problem. I rediscovered the yellowpages and straight up rumination as possible options. Also, that some problems don’t actually need to be solved and some questions don’t need answers. Really.
- Magazines are not the same as websites, and to be honest, I think I enjoy them more in many cases. It’s possible to entrench yourself in your own viewpoints on the Internet. You don’t have to read anything that contradicts what you like, and you can specialize in anything you want. If environmental news is all I want to read, I can do that on the Internet. But, if I read Time Magazine each week (which I did). I’m going to have to read something else, and sometimes it’s not going to be what I like, or what I agree with. At the very least, I’m going to have to see it. The other thing about magazine reading – it has a beginning and an end, there are no “suggested stories you might like” waiting to suck you in at the end of each article.
- It is possible to waste more time on the Internet, but it is also possible to “waste time” productively. What I’m saying is, playing freecell didn’t help me understand solar panels any better or figure out what’s new in food policy. It also didn’t connect me to my faraway friends. (Of course I could have, and did, call them.)
- Lastly… I learned one other thing, but it’s a Secret. No, Really! I spent so much time thinking about it, I realized it’s going to be one of my Secrets of Adulthood. So, I’ll let you know all about it in another post.
Will I go internet free again anytime soon? I hope not!
But I did learn that it’s possible to sublimate that voice in your heard that beckons you to answer “How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal?” and channel it to more productive things: like singing “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” with your 10 month old son. So much more rewarding!