It was when I first took a trip to Cuba when I first experienced life without the internet since it’s become an integral part of my day to day life. By that time I was already involved with webmastering for 8 years and used it to earn a living for 5. There was not a day in the 5 years preceding my trip to Cuba during which I would not spend at least a few hours on the internet. As a matter of fact, there was not a day during which I would not spend most of it on the internet. I worked on the internet during my office hours and then during my off duty time when I was at home, I got right back on the internet to continue developing and strengthening my online presence.
I knew that leaving for 2 weeks during which I would not lay my eyes on a computer screen was bound to leave me feeling helpless. The fear of not responding in time to an important business email or loosing readers because they haven’t gotten any updates for a while would surely follow me around every step of the way. And it could only get worse – there are a million and one ways my sites could go off line and if I’m not around to fix it, it could negatively affect everything I’ve worked for for 5 years.
Regardless, I told myself that I’m gonna take this trip and will enjoy it to the fullest, totally ignoring any potential of poop hitting the fan while I’m away. I decided that this was gonna be my time to enjoy myself and that even if there was an emergency that’d absolutely require my attention, the world would have to put off falling apart because I will not care and will do nothing about it until my trip is finished.
And the World Kept Turning
The plane that brought me back to Canada after my incredibly amazing trip through north Cuba landed in my home town late at night. My luggage never showed up on a conveyor belt so I had to spend two extra hours at the airport dealing with filing lost luggage claims. By the time I got home, it was 2.30 am.
I was beyond tired after a long flight and totally worn out by the disappointing end to an otherwise amazing trip (lost luggage can really mess you up), yet despite work duties I had scheduled for the following day, instead of heading straight to bed to get some rest, I fired off my computer to see what I have missed out on.
I discovered a truly shocking thing: without me… the world has gotten on just fine. It truly kept on turning even though I was not returning any phone calls and did not respond to any emails for 2 weeks. So if the world doesn’t fall apart if I disconnect from it, is there any merit to fearing that my life would collapse because I disconnected from the world? In this particular case, I truly fared well because I made a deal with myself prior to disconnecting, but could I do it again in the future?
Seemingly Urgent Demands
Technology made our lives easier, but it also created new seemingly urgent demands that keep us so distracted, we dedicate unholy amounts of time dealing with them. Prior to the introduction of the internet into our lives, none of us would be bothered by a comment made by some stranger from half way across the world on a forum, but now that we have the internet, responding to that comment seems so important, we put everything else aside in order to respond to it.
These seemingly urgent demands only exist because we allowed the tool which we should be using to make our lives easier, to keep us distracted by the above mentioned seemingly urgent demands. Do we still own our own time if it belongs to something else? Do we still own it if we allow it to pass us by as we get more and more enslaved by the tool that should be serving us?
My Life Without the Internet
As Murphy’s Law would have it, poop did in fact hit the fan while I was in Cuba. One of my most important sites went off line and remained inaccessible for 6 days before I was able to address it. It severely affected my member base and search engine rankings. It took the site 2 years to recover from damage those 6 days caused.
Had I not gone to Cuba to stay around so I can spend most of each day on the internet like I had before, I would have taken care of the issue quickly, minimizing the downtime and avoiding long term consequences. It would be pretty much the same if I went to Cuba and instead of enjoying myself and having a good time, I’d spend the entire trip in internet cafes, monitoring my websites for potential problems.
So much work I did went down the drain because I wasn’t on the internet to fix it in time, yet it didn’t really bother me. For when I lay on my death bed, I will have memories of an amazing time I had in Cuba to think of, of all the people I met and had many adventures with, of the beautiful places I explored and the foods I tried, of bathing in waterfalls, of hiking in jungles, of fighting with turkey vultures for the rite of passage through the marshland…
When I lay on my death bed, the relationships I established with random internet acquaintances will mean nothing, as will the shiny things I would have bought for the money I would have earned. For when one’s on their death bed, their internet acquaintances will not stand by them to hold their hand during the last moments of their life, as will not any of those big screen TVs, shiny new cars, designer clothes, mahogany furniture, Swiss made watches or flashy iPhones. Does it make sense spending more of your precious time on Earth playing with your computer, texting on your cell phone or staring at big screen than spending it with your family and friends gaining pleasant memories that will stay with you forever?
Conclusion to Life Without the Internet
There is a very solid reason why I titled this post “Life Without the Internet”. For without the internet, one has a life. Depriving oneself of walks in the sun, of frolics with their children, of dinners with their friends in favour of spending their time on the internet, one merely exists. They do not live.