Doing Without



Starting Saturday I went on an internet fast. I didn’t check Twitter, read my friend’s list on LiveJournal (which is where I follow blogs, webcomics, whatever) or post to my own blog.

I did check email once a day in case something important came in. Nothing did, with the exception of some none-urgent short fiction stuff.

What did I learn from it?

Well, first let me admit that I broke my fast a couple of times. Cheating! I checked the due dates of some library books on Thursday and renewed them online–there’s no other way to handle that. I also looked up a bit of information for the revision of A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark that I’m working on. I couldn’t justify putting off finishing (which I haven’t done yet) for the stupid fast.

What’s more it was really fucking hard to do. The urge to just log on and check for new reviews on or whatever was overwhelming at times. Maybe I shouldn’t have done it while also doing the whole Livestrong calorie counting weight loss thing, but it was pretty goddam taxing at times.

Saying that, I realized how much I use the web to soothe myself when things are difficult or when I’ve just exerted myself on something stressful or unpleasant. Argument with my son? Grocery shopping (hate)? Screwed up dinner? The urge to check my email was powerful.

It was also startling how uninformed I felt. I listen to NPR all the time, but that’s news, not analysis (not really). It was like being on a news analysis fast, too. What’s more, there were all sorts of casual questions that would come up that I couldn’t just hop on the computer and Google.

Is that really how we all lived back in the 80’s? We’d see some actor give an amazing performance in a movie or whatever and have no idea what else they’d been in. A kid would ask his dad how the liver worked and his dad would just make some shit up. “It regulated beer intake, my boy. That’d be root beer for a youngster like you, but your liver is still immature. It hasn’t turned to evil yet. When you get old enough, you’ll discover that your liver drives you to commit evil acts and you’ll do what I do: Kill it with beer.”

I also missed interacting with people. Sure, I responded to a couple of blog comments (the notifications came to my email inbox so I thought it was allowed) and took part in an email list that I hadn’t turned off, but I missed joking on Twitter and reading thoughtful LJ posts.

What didn’t happen was that I didn’t end up with more writing time. I already segregate internet from writing (except today. oops. Better sign off soon)

I did get more reading time and time with my family. More than I expected, really, but like a lot of things that slowly creep into every aspect of your life, the web had really taken more time than I ever realized.

Anyway, I’m back and I’m not moved to give up all intertubing forever. However, I am planning to make a few changes–basically, to unplug my internet cable at the end of the day when it’s been enough, and nothing important will be coming through.

By the way, I made my son take a complete computer fast for the same time–he’s been getting a little crazy about his computer time lately. He hated it the way Frankenstein’s monster hates fire, but he did an amazing amount of schoolwork in that time. We’re going to have to find a new balance for him, too.

5 thoughts on “Doing Without

  1. Shecky

    Sometimes, despite how involved I am in a lot of internutty things, I have to purge the system for a bit. Because now and then, there’s nothing better than curling up with a book and a little music in the background to go with the coffee. I honestly do feel better when I do that; I think it’s because it separates me from the OMGWHAT’STODAY’SDISASTERDRAMA that seems to characterize so much of the internet all too often.

  2. The funny thing is that so much of my own blog posts come out of Today’s Internet Agony, so I keep my own presence going by being part of the back and forth. But it’s a big distraction machine, and it’s hard to find the correct distance.

  3. Jim Callahan

    I went through something similar when I moved my family from Seattle to Memphis. The first week was hell, the urge to check email and such was almost overwhelming. The second week however was much easier, and by the time we settled into a home during the third week. I didn’t think about it at all. Once back online though it didn’t take any time at all to become an insistent urge that crept back into my life. :)

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