For more than the last eight weeks, I have had no internet access at home. It’s been a difficult time. Undertaking research projects for credit, applying to grad schools, blogging here… all while not having internet access was difficult. No longer could I Facebook from my bed; no longer could I know what the weather would be like later that day (my radio’s on the fritz too); I haven’t watched youtube videos or TV in over two months. In order to do anything, I had to commute to campus, to coffee shops, loitering outside closed cafes at one am hoping that “maybe they left their router on over night”. Instead of having the INternet, I had to make do with the OUTernet; and when I didn’t want to travel to use the OUTernet, I had to put up with the WITHOUTernet. (But not this kind of Outernet: I’m just making a bad pun).
Admittedly, things have been rough: I’ve spent a lot of time on campus, in libraries and offices and study spaces, late into the night. I’ve fallen asleep at desks and on couches, realizing that I can’t get home in time to pass out. I’ve gone to no fewer than six classes which were cancelled by email the day before. (But, I’ve burned a lot of calories running back and forth between house and internet, and that’s okay, right?).
Yet, there are a few things to be said about living without the internet at my fingertips. I have learned to be more efficient with my time online, rather than thumbing around through cat videos and television, mindlessly scrolling through facebook, sending long winded emails, or worrying about keeping the world apprised of my life. And, because of this, I’ve also procrastinated less. Or, rather, I’ve found better ways of procrastinating. Instead of digging deeper and deeper into the unfathomable (and often very very weird) depths of the internet, I’ve been able to actually read some of the books I own (you know that feeling: owning fifty books for every one that you’ve read). And, reading those books has accidentally helped with my research, when not simply just enjoyable in and of themselves.
It’s also been rather good for my mental health, not being constantly bombarded by and accountable to people and posts and emails online. Having time to myself, by myself, rather than that sort of fake time alone where we’re surrounded by hundreds of Facebook friends or tweeters. Being able to have the space to relax, think about the things I need to think about, or not think about the things I don’t, has really helped me survive a crazy year. (Though, admittedly, there is a lot of online self-care I’ve missed out on).
Ultimately, as much as there is suffering, there is growth; cheesy as it may sound. It’s been good to be away from the web. We should probably try it more often, and it’s probably a good thing to try for the exam period: toning down on that distraction and learning to appreciate the internet for what it is.
And with that, I’m off[line?] for the holidays. Good luck with your midterms and exams; we’ll talk again in January.
Don’t forget to fill out your course evaluations: let your voice be heard!
And, have you had a really exceptional Teaching Assistant (TA) this term? Consider nominating them for a TATP TA Teaching Excellence Award!