Over the past week and half I haven’t had internet in my apartment. One morning, we woke up without a signal and Time Warner Cable didn’t have any open appointments until this morning. The time during our outage really affected me. I never realized how much I use the web until I couldn’t check my email, blog, update Facebook, or even look up directions to restaurants and museums.
What’s funny, I consider myself an organized person, but without my internet connection, I felt lost and disoriented — like part of my brain was disconnected. Once I understood why I felt so weird, I was horrified!
Am I really that dependent on websites and my email? Turns out the answer is “yes.” However, if I’m going to learn anything from this experience, it’s how to feel connected without my high-speed wi-fi. So, I came up with a few things to remember for next time…
Last weekend I wanted to look up how long it would take to get to the Brooklyn Museum from my house so I could meet up with a friend for the free events on Target First Saturdays. Without a web connection, or even a Smartphone, which I ditched in the recession panic of 2009, I had to guess how long it would take to get there since I’d never been there before.
The result? I showed up to the museum about thirty minutes early and sat outside enjoying the sunshine. No biggie! In fact, it was quite nice and I got a little Vitamin D.
This little anecdote brings me to my first tip for coping without internet:
1. Be free with your time by arriving early for an appointment and enjoy a moment in the real world.
Often, I get caught up — filling my days to the brim, being efficient with my time and always rushing to the next thing. When you’re without internet, or simply taking a break from technology, give yourself time to find your way about town with real maps or ask someone for directions. Make your day an adventure, rather than a to-do list to check off. Sometimes it’s nice to only have a few things planned in a day and then going where the day takes you.
2. Read a good book, magazine, or the newspaper!
I’m sure we all read a good ol’ paper back when we get the chance, on our subway ride to work and on vacation. And without internet, I found I had so much more time on my hands. No 20 minutes on email here, or hour on Facebook there — that’s a lot of time to walk to the library to finish those items on your to-read list, or catch up with your favorite glossies from a local newsstand.
3. Chat with friends and family.
Though it’d be better to do this one in person if you can, talking on the phone is good too. I bet the number of texts and minutes on my phone will surely increase this month. Instead of sending emails and posting on Facebook at night and on the weekend, I was texting, leaving voicemails and even having lengthy conversations (I’m not usually one for liking the phone).
4. Save a copy of important dates, phone numbers, maps and addresses on your computer.
There were a few times I wished I had some information which I have stored in my Gmail account. Lesson learned, save stuff to my desktop.
5. Use free time to cook a delicious meal from memory or use a real cook book.
Many nights I’ll quickly type ingredients into the Google search bar and find a recipe lickety-split. Well, this week I went solo and cooked a few meals from memory, by taste or referred to an actual cook book. It was fun!
6. Take a lunch break.
There are times that I admit, I do not take a lunch break at work. Well, when your internet is out, take a lunch break and follow up on personal stuff for a few minutes, then step away from the computer! This is good practice even if you aren’t experiencing a connection outage at home.
7. Use snail mail.
Everyone appreciates getting real mail. Write a handwritten note to someone you care about. I know my pen pal will be happy I haven’t had internet. Must remember to mail her letter tomorrow…will I set an alert on my Gmail? Nah, I’ll remember…
8. Get over the fact that the online world will continue moving without you in it.
I know, we all like to stay on top of the latest YouTube videos, witty blogs, our friends’ silly status updates, movie reviews, etc. but without internet, you’re not going to see them, so don’t worry, they’ll be there and there will always be more…
Alright, that’s my advice. Hope your future internet free moments are liberating, rather than stressful.