While on vacation in 2013, I was without the internet for a good 2 months. On and off, I’d be able to check my emails at an internet cafe for 1 EUR per half hour, but otherwise, I wasn’t on the nets as often as I would be if I were at home.
Overall, it was a good experience but I learned a couple of things about myself:
WHEN I WANT INFO, I WANT IT NOW
Granted, I don’t have a smartphone, so when I am out of the house I have no access to the internet at all, so it isn’t quite as bad as if I had information at my fingertips all the time.
I have taken for granted that if I want to know an answer to a specific question, like “How much sodium or calcium is in an average bottle of mineral water?“, I can’t just boot up the laptop and check quickly.”
Even little questions like who is the woman who plays opposite of Richard Gere in movies like Runaway Bride and Pretty Woman? Julia…. something, was as far as I got, but I couldn’t satisfy my random curiousity easily, and it irked me.
I FELT DISCONNECTED FROM OTHERS
Oddly enough, I felt really disconnected from folks. I am used to shooting off emails to people that act a bit like instant messages.
Sometimes it’s to pass along interesting things that made me think of them, or just to say something that’s on my mind without having to blog it (surprise! I don’t blog everything in my life, even if it may seem like that sometimes).
Without that functionality, I felt cut off from being able to reach and connect to people, no matter how impersonally or remotely.
I am not really a workaholic who works just because I have 2 minutes of free time in between tasks.
I tend to be pretty good at delineating between when my own personal life begins, and when I am supposed to work, but connecting with friends and family was a lot more difficult.
I WAS CRAVING NEWS
Being in foreign countries means that you’re stuck watching BBC News or TV5Monde for stuff that is not local-centric, and that you can actually understand, and in my case, it had to be either in English or French.
As a result, I felt really cut off from news.
I wanted to keep up on my usual news sources and I couldn’t.
I HAD TO PLAN AHEAD OF TIME TO CHECK MY FINANCES
I think the very worst thing about being without the internet is that if you have to go to a public internet cafe, you aren’t exactly sure what they put on that computer to monitor its usage.
Do they have keyboard recording software that collects logins and passwords? You never know, and I am always suspicious of all that, which is why even though I use internet cafes, I am careful to make sure I have a good Gmail recovery plan in place.
But in the event that I NEED to check to make sure that my bank accounts are still paying bills like I had scheduled them to do so before I left, and checking my credit card balances to make sure they’re still at $0, I need to actually log in.
Even on vacation, I have to be sure that I paid all my credit cards off in full so that I don’t carry a balance and pay interest, but also that they stay at $0 so I am able to check for any fraud.
I WAS FINE FOR THE MOST PART
All of the above except for the keeping up on my finances and checking my credit cards part, was perfectly doable.
I didn’t REALLY go into withdrawal syndrome, but it did make me appreciate just how much I took an instant, readily secure and available internet connection for granted.
I can give up TV, Telephone and any other kind of modern service, but the Internet is one that I’ll never be able to fully let go.
I REALIZED ONE BIG LESSON: I HAVE A LOT OF FREE TIME
I also realized just how much time I had now that the internet didn’t monopolize my life, which gave me food for thought.
When I am in between contracts and not working, I have a lot of free time but I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH free time I had, because the internet was always there to provide some sort of work or distraction.
As a result, I had lots of time to think, and I managed to write about 90 posts or 3 months worth of material while on vacation during the hours of the day that are too hot to go outside, or too late to go out (I’m not a bars / club / nightlife kind of person).