Hello from the other side… of my first semester of graduate school! It feels good to be on break and to be able to use my energy on things I want to. I’ve actually been on break for a little over a week now. So far I’ve read 4 books, tried 2 new recipes, finished the body of my sweater, and a bunch of other stuff.
I also took a break from technology for a week. By the end of the semester I couldn’t look at my computer without getting the urge to throw it across the room, mostly because I had spent so much time on it working on my semester projects. I decided to take a week away from the Internet so I shut off my computer and my phone (a small pocket computer really) and embarked on my wonderful tech-free week.
Well, going into it I thought it would be wonderful and different. In reality though it was kind of a normal week. I still read a lot, just instead of Internet articles it was books. I still tried new recipes, just ones I had in my cookbooks instead of ones I had saved on my Pinterest. I still didn’t get a good night’s sleep and felt tired and had rough days. I didn’t escape the feeling that I should be doing more things, the things I thought I should be doing just changed and I don’t think I was happier or more at peace or anything without the internet. Not that I had really expected it to be that different, but I had kind of hoped that not seeing pictures of people traveling would make me want to travel less. Nope. Turns out that less screen time leaves me more time to think about things and that the things I think about tend to be the same things I look at on the Internet.
Even though my week didn’t bring any revelations I did learn a few things:
- I missed having access to the news. This was actually the first thing I missed during my week. Normally as part of my morning routine I check the news online. I don’t subscribe to a newspaper, but if I went Internet free I’d have to since not knowing what was going on in the world and with the local weather bothered me the entire week.
- I use my computer as my radio/music player. I hadn’t realized how much I listened to music on my computer until I couldn’t anymore. I found myself wishing I could turn on Pandora radio while I was cooking, and that I could listen to podcasts (my current favorites are: Welcome to Night Vale, Permaculture Voices, The Ruminant, and Farmer to Farmer) while I craft. The only radio I have in my house is a small weather one that you have to crank to give it power. I did pull it out by day three of my no-Internet-week so I could at least listen to NPR to get the news.
- Internet, and technology in general, makes communication easier. I like being able to send messages (email, text, Facebook, etc.) to people when I think of them. I’m not a super chatty person, but I found myself wanting to check in with friends to see how they were doing and to send pictures of my dog to my sister for encouragement during her finals. None of these were things I NEEDED to do, but I missed them.
- I had developed some technology habits that I was unaware of. One of the reasons I did a tech-free week was because this was something I had suspected. I knew I checked the Internet first thing in the morning (to get news and weather), last thing at night (updating my online health log), and during meals, but when else? It turns out that a big time I get on the Internet is when I’m moving from one task to another. Have I finished my nap and am going to walk Olive? Better check the weather. Had I finished working on my sweater and am going to cook dinner? Better see if anyone has commented on Facebook, or Ravelry, or Instagram… well, you get the idea. I think this using the Internet as a transition is actually how I accumulate most of my hours online, which leads me to…
- There are a lot of hours in the day when you don’t have the Internet (and even more if you skip your nap, though you’ll pay for that later). I had a lot more time to do things, to do other things, when I wasn’t on the Internet. I got a lot done during the week, and was a lot more active (which had both positive and negative consequences health-wise). Fortunately I have a ton of hobbies, so it was easy to fill the hours, but I imagine boredom could have been an issue if I didn’t.
So what’s the takeaway from all this? Well, I did print out a few of my favorite recipes so I can access them if my Internet is ever out. Other than that the only thing I’m going to do is try not to use the Internet as a transitional activity, and maybe buy a radio I don’t have to crank to make work.
Have you ever done a week (or more) without Internet? Did you learn anything from it?