For most of the last three and a half years, I’ve been internet-free.
No Xbox Live.
I’ve pretty much lived like Meaghan Trainor’s dating life. No. No. And no.
That all changed recently when I picked up the cheapest (and slowest) possible internet package ever. It’s slow…as in realllllllllly slow. Hell I’ll be lucky if this article makes it onto the web, considering I’m plugged into a 1994-era beepy modem, green-screen bulletin board internet experience. And that’s only a slight exaggeration. But I’m finally in the 20th Century, and that’s something, right?
All these years of non-internet having and slow-internet having got me thinking. What’s it been like living without much web access? How did I survive? How did I manage to operate not one, but two websites…along with a hefty daily helping of web marketing my books?
The short answer: I have no idea
The long answer: A willingness to work a little harder just to be disconnected most of the time
Tempting as it is to explain the minutiae of how I worked around having no internet using a crappy phone with only 3 gigs of data per month, a laptop with broken shift keys (misery) and the most unreliable flash drive ever, I won’t subject you to it. My net-free lifestyle saved me a crapload of money, but it wasn’t always efficient. It was hard work. I don’t recommend living without the net to anyone.
Yes I do.
Let me be completely honest with you. If not for a nagging desire to not have to haul my Xbox into hotel rooms in order to update it and if not for having the whole writing/web-marketing career thing, I wouldn’t have signed up to get the net streamed throughout my tiny apartment. I’m serious. I wouldn’t be on Facebook. I wouldn’t have a Twitter account. I wouldn’t read articles or search for videos online. I’d be under a rock, ignorant to the world’s issues, and probably even happier than I already am. (Which, by the way, is pretty effing happy.) Since I’ve already lived more than half my adult life without access to any kind of television programming, the internet would’ve been easy to continue avoiding. Hell, I feel like a traitor for having it now.
Look, I like to think most of us agree that the web is sometimes a wasteful, hollow experience. Maybe you don’t…but maybe you do. It reeks of politics, crime stories, spam, clickbait, and stalker-esque creepers. That said, the web also has its good points. A few of them, anyway.
And since I do have several web obligations for the next few months (while I build my book-selling empire) I’ll suck it up and use my newfound wifi connection…slow as it is…to be a bigger part of the internet community than ever before.
And I’m not sure how I feel about that.
A little guilty, maybe?
A little bothered?
Because I don’t really want to check my email. Or pay my bills. Or find out what’s up with the Kardiashians and Donald Trump’s hairpiece. I want the minimal web experience. Get in…get out.
Ok. Here are few pros and cons to the web experience. Keep in mind this is from the viewpoint of a guy whose sole window into the net has been his four-years-out-of-date phone and occasional access to the internet in a high-security office setting.
Pros to having internet:
I can upload articles like this and this to the web without having to save them on a flash drive.
I can download 1 or 2 games per year (yeah, that’s my pace) onto my Xbox One.
I can post obnoxious pictures of myself on Facebook.
I can check my book sales slightly faster than on my garbage phone.
Cons to having internet:
It’s liable to infiltrate my life in ways I don’t expect.
Memes. And the whole ‘seeing them more often’ thing.
People wanting to use it in my apartment…before realizing how slow it is. And then leaving.
It costs money.
The temptation to Google awful things
will might one day eat away at my writing time.
I might accidentally see someone post a political rant.
I might accidentally read something on CNN or Fox.
Did I mention memes?
In hindsight, I realize being web-free wasn’t a long-term life strategy. My kid will probably need access to do school-related stuff. I’ll spend less time ferrying my magic flash drive between computers. I’ll be able to research stuff at a far faster rate than before. The trouble is; I kinda miss being disconnected. I actually liked being the last person to find out whatever horrific things took place in the world. I savored my opportunity to never have to hear about celebrities’ lives…ever.
I know my desire to be unplugged won’t resonate with many of you. I get it, and I accept it. But for me living net-free felt a bit like being Braveheart. I could just roam through the Highlands, sword in hand, free as the wind.
I’ll miss that feeling.
Because in a way I know having wifi bubbling through my living space will eventually lure me in.
And a part of me rebels against it.
Author of these killer books: