Like many of you I spend quite a bit of time on the internet. I do it for pleasure mainly, and it is a good thing. But then I find that I often spend so much time there that I neglect my real life, and that projects I have been wanting to finish don’t get finished, and there are piles of dirty dishes, and I don’t go to bed on time, and that’s is not good at all. The internet like TV these days never sleeps, it’s always there, and I found myself checking e-mail every other minute, even in the middle of the night. Because there’s WIFI, and there’s the iPod, and so I can check e-mails and read blogs whenever, and wherever I want. I might have to stand in a corner of the master bedroom to do it but still. Even my son knows that when he wants to find me, go and check my computer.
I knew there was a problem there, and so we put a timer on our router. No WIFI between 11 pm and 8am. No checking e-mail before breakfast. What good does it do anyway. I remember one night I went to check my e-mail one more time before going to sleep and what I got was notice by a student that he wanted to quit. I got so upset that I dropped my iPod on the floor and the display cracked. My work and the rest of my life is quite tangled together, and no person in her right mind would want to check work e-mail at midnight. I also find that I’m much more productive in my writing if I’m not connected to the internet at the same time. Which is why I do quite a bit of that either in bed or in the kitchen where the neighbor’s WIFI is so strong that my own signal can’t get through.
Then I read “The Power of Less”. There wasn’t something in there I had never heard before but it was helpful in a few ways. And it got me thinking about how I use the computer and the internet again. And you know what I did? I disabled WIFI in the house altogether. My husband and I both have an ethernet connection at our desks. I have a laptop so I can use that to write wherever I want but when I want internet I have to go to my desk.
I also limit the checking of e-mails to three to five times a day. When I check e-mail I do it when I have time to answer e-mails as well, I check, I react to most of the e-mails that come in and then I close my internet program. My computer used to be turned on all day long. If I ran errands it would sit on my desk back home on stand-by. I no longer do that. There are a couple of times a day that I surf the net, and I still spend a lot of time there but I usually don’t go in blindly clicking right and left but I ask myself, “What do I want to do here? How long will I do it?” and then occasionally I’ll look up from my monitor and ask myself if there’s something else I should be doing instead.
The thing is, instead of feeling deprived by this I feel much better. I enjoy reading blogs more, not less, and I found that the computer on stand-by had a bit of a pull on me all the time. Like a party going on in the adjacent room. I feel as if there are a few less things to do, a few less things wanting my attention. No WIFI, and a different attitude towards the net has really made me happier.
The one thing that has dropped by in this is twitter. Twitter is really made for sitting in front of the computer mindlessly hitting refresh. I still read there, and post but very rarely. I often just open it to see how certain people are doing. If you send me a direct message on twitter it will reach me nonetheless because I get notified by e-mail. But other than that there’s just a little bit less chatter in my head. And I love it that way.