Disconnected

Having just completed  a 14-month-intentional-technology-purge in my home, I’m renewing my blog with a little reflection as I rejoin the modern world.

Time
No surprise here. Without TV or internet at home, my husband and I had more free time on our hands. We spent it doing old-fashioned things like talking, reading, taking the dog for walks, and working in our garden. It was wonderful, just like it sounds. Most of the time. I won’t lie, sometimes we were bored and there were lots of inconveniences. Since the experiment was about intentionality toward life we allowed ourselves unlimited use of TV seasons on DVD and movie rentals from RedBox. We watched a lot of really good shows- some that made me feel like a better human being even- and nothing that made me feel dumber for having seen it. For TV shows we had to buy locally from whatever we could find at Hastings since we didn’t have Amazon for ordering. This was often annoying like when we finished the first season of Breaking Bad and Hastings didn’t have the next season in stock. Sometimes we lost time from the experiment, like when we had to do something on the internet for our jobs or taxes, and would have to drive to work or the library and then also worry about whether your personal information was safe at those venues. My school had three snow days where they decided to utilize our 1-to-1 computer initiative and have virtual days. It really sucked having to drive to school in the icy weather to post my lessons for the day.

Spending and Purchasing
We didn’t save much money on TV because of all the DVDs we purchased. We saved some on internet (some of the DVD money certainly ran into this cost though) The big pay-off was tossing the smartphones. Ignoring any up-front charges, we calculated it cost about $150/month for two smart phones. We bought two pay-as-you-go phones from Wal-Mart for $15 each and this year we spent an average of $40 a month on our phone time. That’s a yearly savings of $1320 plus what we would spend up-front and all the hidden costs, apps, etc.

It is hard to calculate how mush we might have saved just by not having the internet at home for shopping. I hate going shopping and normally do it all online. Result- I bought less- probably a lot less. This was really great for just appreciating what you already have, and it helped reduce the accumulation of more stuff in the house.

How you go about everyday things
I joked a lot with the high school kids about my experiment. They loved laughing at my $15 phone and how I didn’t know anything about “twitting.” At some point though I realized I was actually falling behind. I have always been more advanced than most of my co-workers with technology and just by not having the smartphones I realized I was missing this whole new way of doing things. My brain had reverted to the old ways. If I needed to go somewhere I hadn’t been- I thought “Where’s the map?” If I needed a plumber- phone book. I paid bills by mail and was always running out of stamps. A friend asked for a recommendation for a veterinarian and by the time I had looked it up in the phone book and written it down for her; she’d already mapped it on her phone, read online reviews, and saved the contact info. I hate a wasted Post-it® note.

Going Forward
My hope is that I will keep a lot of what I learned as a permanent lifestyle change. Wasting a bunch of time on social media, googling random information that I really don’t need to know, surfing pointlessly through craigslist ads; those things just mainly made me feel restless. I look forward to all the good things like watching Ted videos and being able to plan from home for school and as a result spend more time with my dog, even if it is just sitting together on the couch. It will be nice to keep in touch better with my friends and family who live out-of-state. I still do not want a smartphone. When I am driving or working outside, I do not want the constant infringement it used to bring. I want a few places in my world that are still “disconnected”. When I was a kid my dad stubbornly refused to get an answer machine (which is what I still for some reason call voice mail). He did it to his own detriment sometimes. Maybe that is what I am doing too, I don’t know, but there is this little stubborn place inside that thinks by giving up the constant stream of information, I am gaining something I can’t define. I hope to cultivate old-time-kinds of connections: with the soil, my animals, my neighbors and friends. Sitting out in the yard, talking with Jeff under a star-filled sky. I hope.

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