I've been a semi-professional blogger for awhile now and I haven't had internet access at my home for the last 9 months. Every time I mention this little factoid jaws seem to go slack and eyes get a little hazy. The follow up question is invariably something along the lines of, "Whaa...how?" or "Why would you do that to yourself?" A blogger without access to the internet -- is that really as strange as it sounds?
Here's what I've learned from 9 months of limited internet access and why I decided to get service last week.
Blogging is done 98% offline anyway: First and foremost, I'm a writer. The internet just happens to be where I post my finished product. Writing is done most efficiently (for me at least) offline.
My willpower was never even brought into the question: When I woke up in the morning I didn't have to exercise any willpower to not check my email or go waste time on Twitter. It wasn't even an option so I didn't have to worry about it. As a side effect, I've noticed my willpower has atrophied a little bit when it comes to regulating my internet access.
My limited time online was usually very focused: I got in the habit of making lists of things I needed to do when I had access to the internet. Most of the time I only had an hour or two of access at a time so I had to make sure I got everything done that I had on my lists. This resulted in me using my time pretty effectively most of the time.
I was always on the prowl for access: This is the main reason I decided to get internet access in my apartment. I always had my iPod Touch with me and was constantly on the lookout for free wi-fi. Since I never knew when my next chance to access the internet would be, I became obsessed with looking for access. This started to really bother me when I caught my social habits being affected. I began taking my iPod Touch with me anywhere and everywhere. That constant uncertainty was making me a pain to be around, I'm sure.
I became Starbuck's bitch: "Tall bold, please." I said this so, so many times over the past few months. Starbucks has free internet (as long as you purchase a drink) so I found myself spending many a hour sipping a delicious coffee and using their wi-fi. I told myself that I was saving money by not paying for access to the internet, but when it comes down to it I was probably only saving $15 a month, tops.
I liked the productivity that not having home access to the internet gave me but I hated always being on the lookout for it as well. When I got my full-time long-term substitute teaching job I decided it was probably time to get the internet in my apartment. I wanted to be able to do research and preparation for my lessons on my own time and without having to drop $1.59 on a drink.
Now that I've re-entered the world of the connected, I'm very cognizant of not falling into bad habits. Just like you can't give a ton of food to a starving person without them throwing up, I'm afraid that my mind is going to throw up when it suddenly has access to the internet almost 24 hours a day after going without for so long.
It'll be an interesting case study in my own discipline and habits.
Have you lived without access to the internet for long periods of time? How did you feel about it? I'd love to hear your story in the comments.