Thoughtful Thursday: Hiatus

April 22, 2010

Thoughtful ThursdaySlate is running a series of articles from a man who will be giving up the Internet for the next four months (so far you can read part 1, and part 2).

My first thought: Gaaaaah!

Could you live without the Internet? If you wanted to cut down, what could you give up?

I literally cannot function without the Internet. For one aspect of one of my jobs, I am contractually obligated to go online and deal with certain things at least once per day. In other areas of my work, I collaborate with people around the world, and emails and shared files are essential. For work that I do independently, I often need to log into the VPN server to run software.

Outside of work,

Before I was contractually obligated to go online every day, I did have some individual days where I didn’t go online, usually when I was traveling. It was kind of nice to be temporarily unplugged, but only because I knew that I could resume in a day or two. Sometimes, my online absence resulted in a “Where are you?!?” shitstorm.

At times, especially since giving birth, I’ve gone without checking one of my work email accounts for several days. As each additional day passed, it went from being liberating to anxiety-inducing. Were there angry emails waiting for me? New tasks to add to my already overwhelming list? Sometimes, when I’d finally muster the courage to check the account, my fears would be realized. Other times, there would be nothing. It’s a relief not to have demands placed on you when you’re not looking, but it’s also humbling — the world can function without me, at least some of the time.

Outside of work, there are my personal pursuits. I don’t need to write blog posts, read blog posts, or maintain personal correspondence. I don’t need to, but I sorta do need to. This is an area where I can cut down when necessary, but I really like to post as much as I can on my various blogs and I like to keep up with others’ personal blogs as well as news-type websites. As for email, there are some relationships where email is our only form of communication. As sketchy a correspondent as I can be, some of my friends are far worse, and we would cease to talk altogether if we had to rely on the phone or (haha) hand-written letters.

Then there’s the online shopping. Except for food, almost everything that we buy comes from the Internet. I guess I could shop in stores, but I haven’t yet mastered shopping with two babies.

I don’t even know that I can go a whole day anymore without communicating with my own husband online. Throughout the day as he’s locked in his office upstairs, I send him emails or instant messages to say hello, request help with a baby, or do the kind of nuts and bolts communication that most couples probably do face to face. “Did you pay this bill?” “Where is this thing?” “What do you want for dinner?” I suppose that I could resort to the phone or, (gasp!) going upstairs.

Normally, I could live without the Internet for a day or two, but no more. Now, because of work, I can’t even go one day. Oh, modern world.

Could you live without the Internet? If you wanted to cut down, what could you give up?


16 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Hiatus”

  1. Elana Kahn Says:

    No way. I could not give up the internet, because I am seriously addicted. Internet is like crack to me. Anyways, if I wanted to cut down, I would probably give up facebook. That I’m not so addicted to, but I like to play games on there. But anyway, I must go get my internet fix. 🙂

  2. a Says:

    Hahahahahaha! I just posted last night about my addiction! Our computers were down at work for about 24 hours, and I was all kinds of twitchy. Things are better now, and I feel much calmer.

    I guess I need the distraction of the internet at work, because my job has lost its luster. If I can do something I enjoy for a little while, I can devote my full attention to what I should be doing. If I’m forced to only do work, I can’t concentrate well. And concentration is key in my job.

    I can do without it at home – there’s always something interesting to do there.

  3. Lavender Luz Says:

    It would be very, very hard to give it up.

    “I don’t need to, but I sorta do need to.”

    This goes for reading as well as for writing, tweeting, checking in.

    The Internet has changed me profoundly. Mostly in good ways, but also in making me very dependent on it.

    I’d sooner give up dark chocolate.

  4. Yeah and I could technically live without my hands or sex, but why would I want to? I love the Internet and I’m not sure why there is this move on to separate from it. Why not embrace it? That’s my question. Has it really not made mist people’s life a ton easier?

  5. Kristin Says:

    Nope, I couldn’t give it up completely. All our bills are paid online. Blogging is an outlet and helps keep me sane. I NEEEEED it!

  6. Heather Says:

    Hell no! I do so much online. When life gets busy my blogging and commenting dwindles, but I must pay bills, buy stuff we need (I also find it easier than shopping with two babies), and check my emails.

  7. strongblonde Says:

    i could NOT live without the internet. i’m so dependent!! i even check things all of the time on my blackberry! i honestly can’t even remember a time without it anymore!! lol.

  8. Carrie Says:


    I had to go without it for a couple of weeks when we moved and I was FREAKING. OUT. I even drove all over town one day looking to steal some wi-fi from someone who didn’t know how to block theirs. (In my defense, this was during my first IVF so I really needed the emotional support.) I’m definitely addicted.

    I do get overwhelmed sometimes by the amount of e-mails I get that I haven’t responded to but I figure that if I didn’t respond immediately, they must not be *that* important. I’ve also created my own list on Facebook of statuses that I want to read every day because it was getting way overwhelming to check multiple times a day and have 300+ updates to go through each time. I’ve also had to cut out some blogs that I read because there were just getting to be too many.

    We got rid of our cable which I thought was going to be rough, but I really don’t miss it at all. The internet however… nope, couldn’t live without it!

  9. Ana Says:

    Could I? Yes, but only if I wasn’t at home/work where I do NEED To use the internet for home/work related stuff. Its kinda awesome when I used to go on vacations where I couldn’t check my email or easily get on the web. I realized I didn’t miss it much as long as I was super-busy having fun!

    At home, I try to limit it. With the baby, there is less time, and I’ve pared down substantially the sites and blogs I visit.
    As you mentioned, spending time on things like this is not a NECESSITY, but i enjoy it and it relieves stress, so why not?
    I do try to limit random surfing (my husband is the KING of that) that suck up hours. I no longer click from blog to blog unless something REALLY strikes me.

  10. Wild Irish Roses Says:

    I could give it up for a while, but usually only because I have to. It’s nice to unplug and step away, especially over the summer … I could not give it up during the semester, because now everything is online. Some of my classes. My notes. I turn papers in online. It’s crazy how twitchy everyone gets when the university wifi or school sites go down, which it does with frustrating regularity.

    Shopping online is both easy and amazing — there’s stuff there that literally nowhere in a 50-mile radius could be trusted to have, but I can get it to my door. Bliss. 😀

  11. ^WiseGuy^ Says:

    Could you live without the Internet? If you wanted to cut down, what could you give up?

    Answer to the first question is ‘No’!

    Reading your list I find that I my intersection with the onlinea is a little lesser.

    I tend to use the internet for social networking sites, staying in touch and such(e-mails), blogging, Farmville (on Facebook), researching for my thesis and class notes, submitting manuscripts, money transactions and such. But I don’t shop online.

    If I list it out, very few items would get clubbed directly in functional value…but there are lot of other values that I derive from being on the Internet.

    If I were forced to give up, I should be giving up Farmville for good.

  12. Rebecca Says:

    I’m never usually offline for long. It’s even worse now Himself has an iPhone. I have and do cut down fairly regularly. I don’t read my LiveJournal friends list or my Facebook one anymore.

  13. Mel Says:

    Today was the first time ever that I hit “all read” on the Reader after opening the ones I knew I wanted to comment on and…poof…all those posts gone. I felt sick. But also relieved. It had become such a source of anxiety as they piled up and I didn’t get to them this week.

    So when things like that happen, I think about how nice it would be to unplug.

    And then I get a really funny email or read a really great post or make an emotional connection over the Internet and I say neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever.

  14. Staciet Says:

    I suppose if I had to live without internet for some reason, I could do it. I am not all that sure that I’d want to, though. I rely on the internet for so much more than blogging or FB. Dr. Google has been my savior during some rough moments. I can’t imagine if I had not been able to do my own research on some of the medical issues we’ve faced in the last few years. Plus, I use the net to help gather info for lesson planning and other such things I do for work. I also use email to communicate with many in my life, especially at work.

    Lastly, I enjoy sharing experiences with the bloggy and FB friends I’ve made through the years.

    The internet is just like anything else. If you can spend your time on it wisely, there is no need to have to do without. At least not in my book.

  15. Photogrl Says:

    It would be really tough to give up the Internet.

    My bills are paid through it, email is a lifeline and don’t even get me started about blogs. I seldom check my Facebook anymore, but I always seem to find some time each day to at least scan my google reader to read a few posts!

    I know I would survive, but I wouldn’t be very happy.

  16. No, I can’t live without. A few days, yes – but only when I’m on vacation – when internet is down when I’m at home I get very upset. Sometimes I think it would be better to unplug and grab a book for a few hours, but that never really works, because then I think of something and I grab for the laptop again… But when I don’t have a lot of time (or energy), Twitter and Facebook are the first to suffer, and then the blogs…

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