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24 hours without Internet

Last Sunday night, our Internet service went out.

Two of the four green lights on the modem stopped blinking and Time Warner’s customer service line offered nothing more than a canned message saying “There’s a service outage in your area. Technicians are working on it. Service will be restored as soon as possible. Our live operators have no further information.”

Frankly, I was stoked.

Though many of my friends and colleagues have taken vows to go Internet-free at least one day a week (for Michelle, it’s Sunday; for Eva, it’s Wednesday), I’ve found it hard to follow their lead. As a mom, I have to work when I can, and baby naps–regardless of the day–are precious writing time. Perhaps the even greater obstacle, though, is the fact that our computer occupies a significant space in our living room, which is the center of our home. We don’t have an office or separate space where the computer can be set up, so on a midnight trip to the bathroom, there’s that catatonic glow that seems to beckon, saying “You know there’s something important going on here.”

So when the Internet went down, I was actually relieved. It would be restored (the next day, I thought naively) and in the meantime, I could do all the things I put off when I’m working online. I read the entire introduction of the cookbook My Sweet Mexico, and then made churros with our neighbor, followed by “convent cookies.” I took a nap. I laid in bed and read The Savage Detectives. I went for a long walk. I helped cook dinner. I played with Mariel on the floor. We danced and laughed and eventually stopped looking for the other two blinking lights to come back on. At some point, I actually thought to myself, “It’s easy enough to think that nothing important is happening online right now.”

It was divine.


36 hours later, the  Internet wasn’t back up. I started to get antsy- all of my work is transacted online- and so I asked the neighbor if I could pilfer her connection. Nothing truly important had happened in the time I’d been offline. Though there’s no way we can move the computer, there is a simple solution for reclaiming some of my time: Turn it off.




9 responses »

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention 24 hours without Internet | Cuaderno Inedito --

  2. Amen. My 3 day retreat without internet was wonderful. I had to leave the computer at home though in order to prevent myself from checking email. Sure it took me 3 hours to dig out of the inbox when I got back, but there were no ’emergencies’ and I didn’t miss anything.

    For years I did one day a week without doing any work/studying, but then once I got pregnant I got into the same mode you’ve described, take a nap when you can, work when you can. I think I need to get back to the one day off internet/not do anything work related plan. Duarte and I actually talked about it on our little vaca and we’re aiming for Sundays. We’ll see how successful we are after baby’s arrival!

  3. Oh man I am way too connected that after 12 hours I start to get a bit antsy. 36 hours and I would have head to an Internet cafe.

    Yes I’m aware I have a problem 🙂

  4. Glad to hear you enjoyed a bit of internet downtime, Julie!

    I had my first internet-free Wednesday last week and it was a real revelation. I mostly hear people talking about technology sabbaticals in terms of work-life balance, recreation, time with family, etc. (and that’s all good stuff) but the amazing thing for me was how entirely productive an internet-free work day was for me. I went to the library and studied a year’s worth of back issues for a magazine I’m keen to pitch. I worked on a story in a Word doc. I read a book that relates to some writing I’m planning. I basically tackled all the stuff that I never seem to get done when I’m focused on the inbox, the blog back end, the Twitter, etc, etc.

  5. What did you think of The Savage Detectives? I don’t abandon books very often, but I couldn’t finish it. Maybe I didn’t understand it…

    • Lucy-

      I don’t think it’s a book that one “likes” or “dislikes,” per se. In fact, as I get deeper into the book, I’m amazed by the fact that it has enjoyed such an enthusiastic critical reception in the US and elsewhere. In my opinion, it’s a very insular kind of writing, and apart from the structure itself, I think I would have had a really hard time reading and understanding the book if I hadn’t lived in Mexico City. The city is so much a part of that book that without the reader knowing it, I think a great part of the context remains elusive. It seems his translator, Natasha Wimmer, felt similarly; I read an interview with her recently in which she said she went to live in Mexico City for a while in order to really be able to do the best translation possible.

  6. Interesting how we sometimes need to be forced away from our technology, but I do think it’s important for our mental well-being…’s on my list of needs for this year, one day a week offline….I’m looking at Fridays as my best day to cut the cord. 🙂


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