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?