The internet-free experience

Jeff Hoayun

Photo by Jeff Hoayun

Inspired by an ongoing blog/experiment by Senior Editor Paul Miller of technology news website The Verge, Spinnaker Opinions Columnist Jeff Hoayun subjects himself to a work week sans-internet. Read on to find out how he discovered reading, biking and nostalgia all within 5 days.


Day 1 (July 30):
I think I was lucky in that I much of my time on this first day has been spent being occupied by sleep and work. So thus far, going without internet has been easy. Although the night is still young and as I write this now, I’m fighting this terrible urge to go online to check different news sites, Facebook and the various celebrities I stalk on Twitter. I hope I don’t get bored, because if I do, this is going to be one long dark night. I’m sure I’ll have far more interesting things to say about this ordeal tomorrow.

Day 2 (July 31):
A couple of hours after writing last night’s entry, I was at a loss of what to do. All I was doing was listening to music and kind of just spacing out. I realized I had to get out of the house for a while. So sometime after midnight, I took my bike out into the night under the pale radiance of a nearly full moon. If I had internet use I probably would have copped out instead and done exercise the lazy man’s way, on an indoor bike in the safety of home watching Netflix. However, going out on my bike was something much more than mere exercise; it was also the thrill of exploring a world bathed in shadows, going where I wish. Upon returning home, I rediscovered an old addiction of mine, a childhood hobby I used to always turn to when I felt the need to escape or destroy my productivity. Yes, I picked up a book, and I read it all night long. I’m still reading it.

Day 3 (August 1):
Again, I must preach the glories of reading. And I also must praise the glory of A Game of Thrones and its many sequels. An 800 page book of medieval fantasy strife is a sure fire way of keeping me busy. The more I go without internet, the more I wonder what life was like before. There was a before, but I’m struggling to recall. I do know that when I switched from dial up to DSL in 2006, it was a glorious revolution, and I could be always on.  I think my first experience with the internet was back in 1996 as a six year old. My family got a new computer, fired up that blazing fast 14.4k modem, and I am 90% sure the first site I visited was for the old Fox Kids television network. The site loaded at a snail’s pace. Anyone still remember Fox Kids rocks kids or Safari Sam? Okay never mind.  Man, for some reason I miss web rings and personal fan sites. The nostalgia almost brings tears to my eyes.

Day 4 (August 2):
I went out for another bike ride, went to work, and of course continued reading today. This is a pretty simple life. It’s like being stuck on a deserted island with all the comforts of home, which is ridiculous, but somehow true. I thought going into this, that at some point I would turn back to TV to fill in the internet gap, but surprisingly not. But maybe it has to do with my lack of interest in Maury Povich’s paternity tests and Jerry Springer’s amazing onstage altercations. I am pretty much under a rock. Friends of mine could have broken up, denounced each other, or whatever, and I would have no idea. How did people keep in touch again, in the old days, before cell phones and internet? Every time I call instead of text, I get this incredible sense of being awfully forward. I wonder if text and internet work together to make us more and more socially passive as people.

Day 5 (August 3):
This is the last day. And even though I rediscovered reading and got out of the house a bit more, I still miss the internet. It took an iron will to not cheat this challenge; I was a bit lonely without the internet. These days, I’m not a terribly sociable person and the lack of internet makes me realize this most jarringly. The internet allows me to keep in touch with people I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Without the internet, I am nearly invisible and almost friendless.  Some people may roll their eyes when I say this, but the internet is truly magical. It defies the bounds of time and space. It’s the past, present and a boundless reference for one’s every curiosity, all at the same time. The internet is like being in a coffee shop, hearing a thousand different voices all at once, but having the ability to investigate each and every voice at one’s own leisure. As a person who values his knowledge and awareness of the world most, I know I would be a lesser person without the internet.

Introduction by Joseph Basco, opinions editor