2 weeks ago, the internet at my apartment went down. Something to do with my landlords (they’re a couple). Their internet bill was covered by their employer, and some changes to their contracts canceled that. They thought the company would wait until the end of the month to stop their internet, but they didn’t. Right in the middle of the month, internet went out, forever until they did something about it.
They took a week to fix the situation, and here is what I learned living in an internet-less world for 7 days straight.
I need the internet for everything
We take everything for granted, including the internet. In our comfy modern capitalist world, we rely on it so much that I honestly wonder what would happen if we had a world internet outage, even for 10 minutes. At the world scale, it would be pandemonium. Banking, telecommunications, IT services, manufacturing… All the sectors would be affected.
At my individual level, it was only annoying.
- Skype calls
- Online shopping
- Netflix, Youtube
- Downloading research material
- Working in general
None of these were a click away anymore. Of course, I was able to connect my laptop to my phone using the mobile hotspot function. But my phone is old, and the reception in my apartment is terrible. So while it did work, it was slow, and it became a resource I only used if I really needed it, as opposed to constantly being on it for no specific reason.
In the beginning, it was pretty frustrating. But after 2 days, you get used to it.
I don’t need the internet for anything
Especially when it comes to writing, having the internet available is handy to do some research, check out references… But other than that, I realised that the importance/urgency of using the internet is basically an illusion. I found that anything other than work fell in one of 2 categories.
1. Absolutely non-essential things
Netflix, youtube, the news, random stuff… I’m not active at all on social media, and I always try to minimise my useless content consumption anyway. But not having the internet (or a really bad one) made me realise that if literally 80% to 90% of one’s time on the internet is spent doing those useless things, we could all do without it 80% to 90% of the time.
2. Things that can be postponed
Printing, downloading, buying stuff… All this is slightly more important, but I could postpone it until internet was back. It literally didn’t matter that much. Hell, I could postpone these things forever, I don’t actually need them to do the work and keep going.
I was able to focus only on what mattered
That was the huge upside for me. Nicolas Cole purposefully didn’t have the internet in his studio apartment from the ages of 22 to 26. That’s four years. He did so in order to remove all distractions and be able to focus only on his number one goal: finish his book.
I usually turn off my internet on my laptop when I write anyway. But actually not having any connection changes the whole game. You find yourself not having any use for your laptop, unless you write that article you told yourself you were going to finish. There’s no youtube, notification, email… If I wanted to have a good internet connection, I had to either stay late at work, or go to the café (which I did only one time).
The internet outage also happened right on the week where I planned to do some changes to my website. There was no way I could do that without the internet. Or was there?
I have an offline version of my website, a sandbox where I can try and mess things up only on my computer. So I used that. While it meant I would use twice the time by having to do it again online later on, it was amazing because it was so fast and distraction-free.
For most of the week, I was able to focus even more than usual on the number one thing contributing to my goals and vision: writing. And that was awesome.
I replaced a bad habit with a healthier one
Like a lot of people, I tend to waste time on youtube. I do manage my consumption and track my time, but I always wish I did less of it. With my terrible internet connection, youtube was a no-go. But I still needed to have a break and relax once in a while.
So I switched to chess. I always like to play chess and I want to get better at it, but it’s never at the top of my todo list, because I don’t consider it a priority for now. With all my youtube time slots now free for a new activity, I decided to play chess when I would normally watch youtube. I had a blast.
This is literally putting the habit loop theory into practice.
I changed the routine from “watch youtube for too long” to “play chess for 30 mins”, and found that it gave me the same reward, but in a much healthier way. Chess trains your brain better and is a lot less addictive than Youtube.
After a week, the problem was partially solved and we now have the internet again. I say partially though, because my landlords don’t seem happy with the quality of the new connection (they live right above me and are on the same network). They want to change it again. Which means we might be without internet for a longer time. Which means so much less distractions. More chess, less wasted time, and more work done.
What would you do with no internet?
What projects would you finish?
What distractions would you ditch?
What goals would you focus on?