Recently I am experiencing detoxification effects due to lack of internet connectivity. I used to have a 24-hour connection to the net, but since a few weeks I’m disconnected. And this has proven quite a challenge.
I know that I’m a frequent user, but was oblivious for the fact how much I had started to depend on it. And it starts to show in very disturbing little inclinations. Like I caught myself wanting to check my email compulsively every 3 minutes (knowing very well that at 3-am in the morning you’re not likely to receive much email), or I felt the urge to look up everything I was thinking of with Google.
I think I really am going cold turkey on this one.
Now I’m not saying that I’m an Internet-addict, and of course this is seen through the eyes of the beholder, but Internet connectivity addiction is not a rare phenomenon. Internet offers a unique platform for interaction without fully exposing yourself. You can tap into any source of information, get a glimpse of another part of the world, even eavesdrop on conversations held by others in relative anonymity. And for some, maybe caused by the excitement, these activities turn into an addiction. Some are addicted to chatting with other people, you have the fanatical online gamers while others are hooked to a steady stream of information. There are even online (!) helpcenters to relief the junkies, which by the way seems kind of similar to organising an AA-meeting in a pub.
Of course not everybody who’s using Internet is an addict. People are social creatures and like to be connected to interact with eachother. Throughout history the urge to communicate with other people in distant places has led to a series of inventions in the field of tele-communication. And like most of these inventions, Internet connectivity has become such a vital part of our daily lives that a minor glitch could be the cause of great distress.
But even if I leave the excessive behaviour of the internet junkies out of consideration, sometimes the thought grows on my mind that we are becoming too dependent on our tools.
Take for instance the mobile phone. It’s hard to remember how on earth we ever could have functioned without these convenient devices. What to do if public transport is letting you down once again and you’re supposed to be somewhere on a particular time? Or if you’re supposed to meet someone and he’s not on the designated rendezvous spot? If suddenly – God forbid – our phone is dead in the water, it feels like we’ve lost all control and our lives are totally turned upside down.
The same story with the Internet. There’s no need to deny its convenience. Don’t know a word, look it up. Don’t know what time the train leaves? Look it up. Need some background information about a subject? Look it up. Why bother to remember all this information if we have all the knowledge of the world wide web at our disposal, just one mouse-click away? And gradually, just like the mobile phone the internet has become such an essential part of our lives that being disconnected almost feels like being deprived of oxygen.
But of course, like with every addiction or habit, it’s our minds playing tricks on us. We did just fine without a mobile phone. At least we made clear appointments and no vague “I call you when I’ll arrive there” agreements. Usually you end up calling eachother continuously every other minute to check the progression in eachothers movements towards the designated rendezvous spot. Very expensive and very unnecessary. We could memorise numerous telephone numbers, something we have become quite incapable of since the introduction of the mobile phone. No, to make matters worse we sometimes even forget our own number.
So we will probably do just fine without the internet too, if push comes to shove. It’s just a matter of checking the timetables beforehand for the departure-times of the trains. Shake some dust of the dictionary and buy a new book. At least that’s what I am bravely telling myself.
I can manage without my internet connection. I don’t need Google to function. I don’t need to check my email every 3 minutes. Maybe I should just call someone for a change.
With my mobile phone.