What Would You Do without
Internet for Two Days?
I found myself with no Internet service for two and a half days. Last Friday, I was changing my furniture around and moved the Internet modem to a new and what I
thought would be a safer place — away from the heat vent. I knew I was in trouble when one of the two lights went red. I called for service and to my surprise my
Internet provider does not provide service on weekends for this type of problem. What was I supposed to do from 5:30 p.m. on Friday until 10 a.m. to noon on
My first thought was, I’m not one of those people addicted to electronics, how bad could this be. I was not the type of person who was constantly checking my email,
Facebook, Twitter, etc. Did I mention that to save money I do not have cable, but I do have local stations, Apple TV and Hulu? With no Internet, I did not have access
to my Apple TV or Hulu (meaning no movies or shows I normally watch). I was determined to see this through without going crazy and I decided however this turned
out, I would have to write about it.
How many times have you checked your email and/or Facebook today? In the past hour? It is almost impossible to not be addicted to constantly “checking-in” in
today’s society, not only checking-in, but also shifting frequently from one thing to the next.
Here are just a few of the startling facts I came across:
• People between the ages of 15 and 30 spend approximately three hours on social media every day. People older than that spend the same amount of time
watching TV. At these numbers, the average person spends over 9 years of their lives on these activities.
• Collectively, humanity spends 39,757 years on Facebook every single day.
• Most people check their Facebook at least 14 times per day
• 79 percent of people check Facebook within 15 minutes of waking up. Hilariously, 62 percent cannot even wait those 15 minutes and check their smartphone
immediately upon waking.
• Studies indicate many people check their devices every 6.5 minutes.
As we have become accustomed to constant interruptions, our attention spans have
radically shrunk and our ability to focus is dismal. Our personal patterns need to shift from
inputs to outputs. We (myself included) as a society have become addicted to input. Or in
other words other people’s agendas.
When you disconnect from everything going on, you can actually get space to ponder and
reflect. You will quickly become clear about what is misguided in your life. You will be
shocked by how much time you are spending in the thick of thin things.
Although a far more sophisticated piece of human technology, the human brain needs
periods of quiet time and mindfulness in order to function optimally. But how is that
possible when our ‘always online’ lives are constantly dragging us in the opposite
direction? According to Google’s Gopi Kallayi, the solution is to unplug from the Internet
and plug into the “inner-net”. That may sound like a big ask, but if a product marketing
manager at Google can find a balance between his day job and his mindfulness practice,
there’s definitely hope for the rest of us.
Here are a few ideas to get you started: Set specific times to use the Internet and define
how much time to spend surfing the net. Distract yourself. Call friends and family. Spend
more time with them. Research indicates that spending time with others improves your
mood. Find a hobby that does not involve the Internet. For example, yoga, take a class,
catch up on your reading, get involved or go out and enjoy nature. Bill Gates, since the
1980’s, had gone into seclusion for two, one-week “Think Weeks” per year. His family,
friends and Microsoft employees were banned from these retreats, during which Gates
spent the majority of his time reading and thinking. Many insights and innovations at
Microsoft were the fruits of these Think Weeks.
How did I spend my dis-connected time? It did not really hit me until Saturday afternoon; I
was bored out of my mind. I was determined not to feel this way all weekend. I went for
walks (both days), called family and friends I had not spoke to in awhile, cooked (from
scratch), tried a new hair treatment. In other words I did a lot of things I had been putting
off and some thinking about what I wanted to do with my future. The results and insights
of this personal time turned out to be more internally radical than I expected.
In closing, I leave you with some wonderful advice, from Gopi, for connecting with your
inner-self. He says you need to, “Listen to the tweet of your heartbeat, pay attention to the
status update from your body and respond to that urgent chat request from your brain.”