Sunday, August 21, 2011

Living a Life Unplugged (Sort of)

A while ago I thought it would be an interesting experiment to unplug totally from the wired (and wireless) world and then keep notes on the experience, reporting on it at the end of a predetermined span of time, such as 6 months or a year.  I'm not sure I'm ready to take that drastic leap, but moving to a new city has given me an opportunity to try the experiment on a smaller scale.  Since we moved  a couple of weeks ago we have not established internet service at home.  This doesn't mean I haven't been connecting, but it does mean that getting on the web, sending an email, or using any online apps on my iPod Touch requires a committment of at least a half hour and a half tank of gas just to drive somewhere to connect.  Suddenly I'm combining trips like a suburban mom conserving gas during the 70's oil embargo (ok, when I go to Home Depot to shop for shelving I can stop by the McDonalds, get a sundae and get an hour of surfing in). 

It is amazing just how used to being able to connect at any time of the day or night one gets with time.  It's the great thing about the internet.  Want to know what movies are playing at what theaters at what times, read some reviews of them and get directions?  Just log on.  In an argument about how many games are played in a baseball season?  You can prove how right (or wrong) you are in a few seconds.  How much does an adult bull elephant weigh?  All I need to know is whether you want to know African or Asian.

Unfortunately, as useful as the internet is for looking up info, paying bills, reading the news, playing games and a plethora of other things, it is also a time stealer.  Ever spend 2 hours online doing nothing?  How about half a day?  You know you've done it more times than you can remember.  So while not having the convenience of instant connectedness at my fingertips is, to be redundant, very inconvenient, it also makes me more cognizant of how much time I normally spend online, and makes my web use more focused.  I don't know how long this experiment will last until Heather or I finally break down and decide we need internet at home, but it is good to get a detox from the need for constant data download.  And as a bonus, I get to experience things that I wouldn't otherwise, like the kid sitting next to me at Starbucks softly singing over a sheet of music (there's really no better place to do that?), or the guy at the outdoor patio area sitting with a parrot on his shoulder (Did I just unwittingly board a pirate ship?)  Don't worry, it's still my goal to produce a blog entry per week, so you can continue to have a yardstick for mediocrity.  Now go look up the weight difference between African and Asian elephants; you know you're curious now.