Monday, January 31, 2011

Off-line or Out of Line?

Today starts my third annual Internet Free in February project - and for all you “can’t wait to catch me cheating” people, by free, I mean no entertainment/facebooky type stuff. I will still keep up with this blog, and work-related emails, etc. but other than that, nada*

Not that it’s that big of a deal. For one thing, it’s only 28 days. And another, it’s only the Internet. It’s not like I’m going Amish for a month. But that being said, I have noticed some changes and challenges over the past few years. The first time I did it, I don’t think anyone even noticed. Of course I wasn’t a huckster back then, so there was no advance announcements or fanfare, I just quietly logged off.  Last year was a little tougher, as I had a new book to promote and a fairly new baby to show off, but somehow I managed. I did leave a “Farewell for now…” message as my status, and returned to find some naysayers and doubters commenting on my wall, as well as a few “I could never do that’s…” But this year I’ve been surprised by just how many people admitted  it would be “impossible” for them, and how doubtful they are that I can go a whole month without the social side of the internet - but come on people, I went thirty YEARS without it. And chances are, you have as well.  So it really shouldn’t be that difficult.

But frankly, it is. Now that I no longer get a newspaper delivered, and our TV is constantly tuned to The Disney Channel, I’ve come to rely on the Internet as my sole source of news, weather, and information.  And I do mean sole source. This is embarrassing, but a few months ago I checked Yahoo weather and was told it was 45 and clear skies, so I decided I could ride my bike to work. I packed all my stuff, put on my bike gear, and stepped outside…into a rainstorm!  Had I just looked out the window, I would have known, but so strong was my habit of checking on-line, I forgot there were other ways of getting information. And I’m hoping the next 28 days will help me remember some of them.

And then there’s facebook. As someone who was never fond of the phone, or even talking for that matter, facebook has allowed me to communicate in fun and friendly ways with lots of people I probably would shyly avoid in person. But thanks to the internet, I get to comment on their pictures, send snide remarks about their statuses, and wish them happy birthdays.  Unfortunately, this hasn’t improved my actual conversation skills all that much, so when we get together in real life, we just talk about everything we saw on facebook, but still, it’s a start. And maybe this month will force me to actually pick up the phone, or send a letter, or get together for a cup of coffee, and have real conversation.

Shopping is another issue, and at this moment, a gray area as far as whether it should be allowed during my hiatus. I do enjoy browsing for bargains, and now that I’m an Amazon Mom (long story), I get free shipping on pretty much everything, but I’m not sure if that qualifies as entertainment.

Speaking of entertainment, one thing I won’t miss is games.  Other than a brief Bloons addiction, I’ve never gotten into the whole gaming aspect of the Internet. Probably for the same reasons I avoid cheesecake, as chances are I’d like it.  Plus I get more enjoyment out of making fun of the people who like Farmtown and World of Warcraft than I would from playing the actual games.

So, there you have it – not exactly a manifesto, but maybe enough to make you think about your own habits and see if perhaps you could use a break from them.  Just because they’re not bad habits doesn’t mean they’re good for you.

*"Mike Wood" - my author persona, will be sending out facebook reminders about upcoming book signings, and I'll be '"sharing" my blog entries to facebook, but that is it!


  1. Overheard conversation between 2 bagger girls (age 18+) at Stop and Shop yesterday morning:
    "It's so sad what is going on in Egypt."
    "What's going on in Egypt?"
    "They've shut down the internet. It's so sad."
    "Really? I didn't hear anything about that."
    End of conversation.
    Hand-to-God, I could not make this up.

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