Living Offline: Would you? Could you? Do you want to?

Could you live without the internet for a week? For a month?

That’s the prompt for today’s WordPress Daily Post challenge.

Could I?

Absolutely. More than ever, I’m grateful that my teaching job precludes being connected, at least during class time (and when I’m not logged on in order to show something online). I don’t give out my cell phone number to many people (not the internet, I know, but the experience is similar for me). Doctors go into a profession that they know will entail being “on call.” As a writer, I don’t want an “on call” life (and I’ll gladly forego the extra income).

The harder question is this: Would I?

Not right now. Not without some significant preparation.

First, there is my daily posting challenge here for 2011. Hard to accomplishment without the Internet. Being involved in social media comes with a certain degree of social obligation: Responding in timely ways to email, Faceboook postings and inbox messages, Twitter mentions and retweets, blog comments. Keeping up with friends’ and colleagues’ blogs and Twitter feeds and Facebook walls so that I don’t miss important events or announcements. The “online” adjective doesn’t make this group of people any less of a community for me, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable just dropping out for an extended period of time without an explanation or without other plans for keeping in touch. A week isn’t such a big deal, maybe, but a month would be harder.

Then there are work-related tasks: Emails from authors querying about indexing jobs, receiving pdf manuscripts to index from publishers and emailing them the index as a Word file, responding to students’ questions and keeping up with university announcements. Even if I could do all of this work without internet access—and I’m not sure I could do all of it, given the changing nature of publishing—my work would be neither as efficient nor, in some cases, as good. For example, I do a lot of Internet background information for the indexes I create, checking standard spellings of names and places, especially non-English names. Some of that information I could find in a library, but some of it I would simply not check, because I couldn’t.

A third question remains: Would I want to?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Just not right now.

I might not be willing to do the work to give up Internet access for a month at the moment, but I can take a month or a week to limit online connectivity to only what is necessary and not a minute more. It would be an interesting experiment, don’t you think?

5 thoughts on “Living Offline: Would you? Could you? Do you want to?

  1. I don’t know. I think it would be very hard for me to become disconnected. I have lived with the internet since middle school and the thought of not having it for a month scares the heck out of me. Much of my work relies on searches and connection with the school. Now, I wish I wasn’t so dependent on the internet, but it hard to change such addictive habits.
    I do have a rule of “leave the internet at home”. My laptop is the only devise I own that will connect to the internet and it spends most of its time sitting on my desk. The only exceptions to this rule are vacations and if a lecture requires to use the internet on campus.

    • Kelsey, this is so interesting! From conversations with my students, I do think there is a difference between adults like you who grew up with the internet, and those who experienced the transition from offline to online living. I do appreciate being connected, but I wonder if part of my longing for being offline is a kind of nostalgia.

      I know I can’t imagine life with telephones, for example (even though I don’t use them much, lol), but I’ve read that the people who lived through the advent of household telephone usage found them annoying at times.
      ~ Lisa

  2. Great post. I’ve lived the transition, like you, so yes … I could. Do I want to? No. This is a little bit like the song, «Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to go NOW».

    The idea of giving it up for a week, tickles me a bit … but then again, no. I’ve thought about giving up Facebook for Lent [even though I’m not RC].

  3. A nice informative post (puts mine to shame he he) I think also whilst it would be good not to have an “on call” life as it were, not being online these days is classed as social oddity, which is a shame.

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