Living Life Without Internet: A Terrifying True Story

This past weekend I found myself doing the one thing no one wants to do while living in New York: Moving. But what terrified me more than how much it was going to cost, carrying boxes in insane humidity (j/k! I didn’t carry shit) or saying goodbye to the only apartment I had ever known in my three years of living in the city, was the sheer terrifying fact that I was going to be without Internet until Tuesday (I would go to the library for work obvi so it wouldn’t be a complete break). That meant I had five days in my new apartment of living life circa ’93, five days of not being plugged into my job 24/7, five days of not tweeting, messaging or Googling. How was I going to do it? I had this image of my roommate and I wearing bonnets for some reason and recreating a scene from Little House On The Prairie. Would we have to get water from a well and kill a goat on Avenue C for dinner? Without internet, does life revert back to the colonial era?

So yeah, I’m addicted to the internet. Shocker. It’s where I live, work, and oftentimes masturbate. To ensure that I don’t get completely lost in it though, I refuse to own a Smartphone. Instead, I’ve used a Zack Morris cell phone that’s sold at Radio Shack for ten dollars. It has no internet capabilities. Sometimes it doesn’t even turn on but what it does do is give me a much-needed respite from the Internet.

Even though I’ve exemplified some self-control with the world wide web, this five day abstinence was going to put me to the test. Luckily, the first day I spent without it actually ended up being pretty okay. It took practically the whole day for my roommate and I to get our stuff moved in so by the time I could even think about logging online, I passed out.

I dreaded the second day though. There would be no distractions this time. It would just be me, myself, and I. When I woke up, I just laid in bed while looking longingly at my computer screen. After sulking for about ten minutes, I finally started to read the new Chelsea Handler book I had been meaning to finish. When I was done with that though, I became very disoriented and began to eat half a box of Wheat Thins in a post-post-modern fugue. When you don’t have the Internet, your body becomes fatigued for no reason (perhaps a symptom of withdrawl) and you just begin to eat. A lot. I spent the day alternating between my bed and my couch. I consumed an obscene amount of food and read two books. Shockingly, it was still only 6:00 p.m. That’s when I became desperate and decided to just get super high as a way to pass the time. Fact: If you’re stoned, you won’t care if there is no Internet. You’ll be content swimming in a sea of fuzz with The Jesus & Mary Chain watching the ceiling move.  The Internet not existing is really NBD. After spending my evening hours stoned out of my mind, I went to bed and slept for eleven hours. If you’re not keeping track, here are the stats:

Day Two Without Internet

Calories consumed: 5,000
Books read: 2
Number of drugs taken: 1
Feeling free from the shackles of the Internet: Priceless

On Sunday, I woke up feeling super refreshed. I was actually relieved to be away from the Internet and dreaded meeting my boss later for a meeting because it meant that I would have to go online. It felt like I was going back to my drug dealer when all I wanted to do was stay clean! It had been two days. Why break my sobriety now? Unfortunately, my sense of duty prevailed over my newfound Luddite tendencies so I went to my boss’ apartment and went online to do some work stuff.

Oh. My. God.

F.Y.I.: If you take a two day break from the Internet when your job revolves around the Internet, you will have an insane amount of e-mails waiting for you. I had accumulated 60 in just 48 hours. What? Who were these people and what did they want from me?! LEAVE ME ALONE DAMMIT! When I looked at my Gmail, panic rushed over me and I closed my computer. After I took some deep breaths and visualized someone feeding me an Ativan, I mustered up the courage to face the digital music.

I spent the next few hours in a perpetual state of anxiety. Why did the Internet had want so much from me? It was pissed I had went away and now it was exacting revenge by flooding my inbox with urgent messages. Even though I had only been away for a short while, I got the feeling that I had temporarily forgotten how to “do” the Internet. Does anyone else get that feeling after they’ve spent some time away? It’s a place that requires you to be plugged in all of the time. It’s all or nothing. You’re either giving it handjobs every day by Foursquaring, tweeting and using Facebook or you’re completely out of the game. After that Sunday morning, I had never wanted so badly to be out of the game and removed from the vortex. It had never felt so stressful and pointless as it did that day. After cutting my meeting short, I hightailed it back to my apartment to finish the Sarah Silverman book and do some therapeutic collaging.

Today I’ve joined the masses again. I’ve figured out how to play the Internet game again and going home at the end of the day even makes me feel a little sad. It’s disturbing, right? But the act of connecting and disconnecting from technology is exhausting. At the end of the day, you know you have to come crawling back into the Internet’s arms because that’s where everyone else is. The rest of the world has adapted to it so you have no choice but to follow suit. That being said, this weekend taught me that taking a break is important. We dedicate so much of our time to this “thing” that we need to sometimes back away and realize that there is real life happening. You don’t want to miss it while checking your FB. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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    “If you don't have an iPhone, well, you don't have an iPhone.”

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    Completely, completely true.

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    I would like to see that goat [pics or it didn't happen] you had to hunt in wild wild Alphabet City.

  • Tim

    Do you live on/near Avenue C Ryan? We might be neighbours!

    • Ryan O'Connell


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    I went a whole week once. By the end I had forgotten what my Facebook profile picture looked like. The realization was surely like looking into the mirror and not recognizing yourself. Day 2 and 3 had me nervous and sweating. But by day 6 when I casually brought up the fact that I hadn't been plugged in for a whole week and someone offered to let me smartphone some shit, I vehemently objected. It's true. I was clean and I wasn't going back. Until I got home to over 100 emails. Fuck. Here I am.

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    I've been without Internet for the past three weeks. I go to campus for them… It makes me go places!

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    It's summer time, what does one do on the internet in the summer time? Doesn't it get boring quickly?!

    • hm.

      Oh Amelia Bedelia, you've always been so naive.

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        haha. if you've actually payed attention to my comments i am honoured.

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        Nope, but I've read all your books.

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        Oh, those are by my sister Amelia. I am the less successful one.

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    You have a deep appreciation for Wheat Thins. I completely empathize with you.

  • dechonmustard

    Having a smartphone helped me be away from my computer more.
    I do check my facebook, etc. no matter where I am now, but I do it in much shorter spurts and while I'm out doing better things than sitting at the screen

  • beatricekt

    I went without the internet for about a month once, soon the drug wears off, I cared no less about facebook or any of the insignificant real life profiles of mine. However my other internet personas were flooded with messages but indeed it helped me get off my drug. I gave up my android phone too for an “army phone” (with no camera), it's a sort of freedom. Without the internet, as if i had just been emancipated from the reigns of the internet. One thing it helped me with was self-control though now I still use the internet 24/7. Where else am I going to get free movies and books?

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    An art project about the impact of the rise of digital technology on different cultures today.

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