I love technology. I do. I love living in the information age, in which I can instantly and effortlessly access
facts, ideas and opinions on any topic I could desire. But, I grew up without it. My brain learned how to
imagine, how to wonder. I learned how to search, really search, for information that I craved. How to seek out
the answers to questions that plagued me. I learned to read books, turn their pages, "dog ear" and underline. I
know what the Dewey Decimal system is. I like to keep some of that mystery, some of that journey for facts, some
of that time to wonder in my life. For that reason, I don't have a smart phone.
So when my hard drive failed me a few weeks ago, I was left without all access to the great, wide, interweb. I
did not run out and buy a new hard drive immediately. I would like to say that this decision was purely mine and
it had nothing to do with finances; that would be a lie. But, I can tell you, that I took this opportunity to
examine my life and my brain, without the influence of an omniscient search engine or immediate glimpse into the
lives of others.
I seemed to go through several different stages psychologically in these two weeks. It was a mourning period,
apparently. I had to grieve the loss of a lifestyle that I had become accustomed to, socially, intellectually, and
psychologically. But, almost instantly, I enjoyed the freedom. The increased presence I had in my own life and
with my loved ones. I heard my children's voices with more clarity, we hugged more, and their eyes seemed even
bigger as I gazed into them more often. We looked for the answers to Bambino's questions in books. Books who had
been collecting dust for months, lonely on shelves. I started googling things in dictionaries and reference books
on animals. In fact, the Smithsonian Institution's big book called Animal is now my son's new favorite book. Just
like I did as a child, he seems to love the tactile sensation as he can just flip through and land aimlessly on a
page and learn about the wildlife that fate has chosen for him. We played outside more. And I called [or texted]
my real-life friends and family for a personal and individual catching up on our lives. Real questions, real
concerns, real comments, and no leering eyes of acquaintances, friends, or strangers. We shared stories and my
children's milestones in real time and in private. I got so much more done without being sucked down the rabbit
hole of increasingly tangential news stories, opinion pieces, and thoughtless comments sections. It. Was. Bliss.
At least that part of it was. Following is my experience grieving the loss of technological accessibility to,
Stage 1: Denial
The day my computer told me that the hard drive was malfunctioning and that I should back up my information, I
panicked. I immediately went to the store and purchased a flashdrive large enough to accomodate all the new photos
I had taken, the articles I had downloaded and written, and of course my internet bookmarks. And I started the
tedious back up process. But, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, "Maybe this is just a fluke. Perhaps my
computer will keep working for months...years!" I kept using it as usual once I had backed up everything vital
until it did indeed shut down the next day.
Stage 2: Anger
The day after shutdown...we will call it Day 2. I became very upset. I started to wonder what kind of person
would sell a "refurbished" laptop on ebay that breaks down after only a month. I was incredulous. I spent a whole
$100.00 on this used computer, where was my warranty? I, of course, did not express this outrage to the man who
sold me the computer...I thought about it long enough to realize how ridiculous I was. But, I continued to be
enormously jealous of anyone using their iphone in front of me. Didn't they know that I had just lost my
connection to the outside world? How dare they flaunt their good fortune in the face of my grievous loss? And I
felt the loss; I felt that something was indeed missing. This lasted roughly 2 days.
Stage 3: Bargaining
Around Day 4 [and lasting through the first week], I was feeling withdrawals and began to beg those close to me
to let me use their internet for "just a minute". I *needed to check my email, my facebook, the news. I NEEDED to
google something! I needed a small fix. One night, I plugged in my old laptop [still slowly dying] to look up a
specific episode of a television show that I had been discussing with a friend. His googling skills weren't honed
enough to find it. I felt slightly pathetic. But only slightly.
Stage 4: Depression
The transition from Bargaining to Depression came with a text conversation with a friend...
I just had to know what was going on in the world! I felt lost. Alone. I was disconnected. My life was
doomed to forever be dull and uninteresting. I never deserved internets anyway. Internets was too good for me and
Stage 5: Acceptance
Then around Day 10, something miraculous happened. I woke up and didn't think about jumping online. I didn't
miss it at all. There was no pressing desire to let the entire online world know how adorable my toddler was
being. I just quietly appreciated it. I didn't care what your breakfast looked like, or what new movie was coming
out [that I would probably never get to see anyway]. I did miss you, so I texted you. I called you. We made a
playdate for our kids, I heard your voice, we talked about the family. When I began to miss the thrill of the
novel idea or the beauty of previously unseen artwork or the comfort of unknown facts...I opened a book. And I
opened that book with my boys and we learned together, we experienced together, and then we closed the book for
later, while we ran around like dinosaurs.
The online world in this, our information age, is amazing. It is wonderful, intriguing, exciting, educational.
It is divine. It has a cherished place in my life still, but I am glad to be back to a place in my life where it
doesn't shape my days. It doesn't determine how good I feel or what I know. It doesn't shape my interactions with
my loved ones. This time was quite liberating actually, and so, I plan on keeping the first week of the month a
"No Internets Unless Necessary" week. Now hopefully, I won't be bending the definition of necessary too much.
And perhaps, my kids will learn that "disconnected" time has a valued place in our lives.