How a Cyborg Survived 9 Days Without Internet

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Day 310: Lima, Peru

I first discovered the Internet in the early 90s. My mother works at a school and she told me all about it. It was before AOL, Internet Explorer, and we were on a 14.4 modem. Using Netscape Navigator we waited ten minutes for a photo of Jerry Rice from the San Francisco 49ers to download and I printed it out.

From that moment I was addicted.

I’m the type of person who needs to know things. When there’s a big group of people arguing over some random fact, I’m the one who looks it up later and sends it to the group long after they’ve forgotten or care.

In the mid-90s I drove up sizeable internet bills, talking to people in Australia and Belgium on IRC. Downloading recipes and marveling at how magazines were suddenly putting information online.

It’s likely been well over a decade since I went ten days without my bestie. This was a test.

 

nazi mangoes

The first few days were easy. I was distracted with the newness of the Eco Trulys and spent lazy afternoons napping.

On my third day we went into town but instead of going online like the others I walked around the market, amused with things like these Nazi mangos.
 

21 SWEET TREATS TO DISCOVER: Peru Fruit

 

But on a few slow afternoons people would decide they wanted to head into town to check Internet again. I always had to decline, explain I was on a detox and then explain why I needed a detox.

It was starting to eat at me. I wondered if people had emailed me, what  if my site went down, what if something happened at home, what if I was missing out on something.

But as much as it was killing me I’m stubborn. And I knew if I didn’t do this I couldn’t write this post. I couldn’t share what I had learned. So what did I miss:

  • 546 email
  • 541 items in Google reader
  • 184 sites on my Stumble Upon toolbar that SU somehow started to dump into my email
  • 4 Facebook friend requests, 3 messages, 15 notiifcations
  • 27 blog comments to approve, 77 spam
  • 3 LinkedIn requests

And what did I learn: Just because I can be online 24/7 doesn’t mean I should be. I don’t need to answer tweets within hours, tweets can wait. I’m not going to rush to catch up, I know the Internet will wait.

Join the Conversation

  1. Great advice; you’re right, the internet can wait. It’s nice to detox and enjoy the real world without worrying you have to reply to the web instantly. 546 emails in just 9 days? Wow.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think that week Stumble Upon had an error and started dumping the toolbar stumbles so many of those emails were from SU and I just checked my toolbar instead of reading them.

  2. Nick Laborde says:

    I think I’ll take your lead and go on one of those diets. I’m a bit of an information junkie, that would be good for me.

    I had one of those 14.4 modems… now if I have to wait more then 10 secs for a picture to load, it drives me nuts.

  3. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    That’s one of the reasons I look forward to traveling. I usually can barely find the time to go online, so it’s a good break for me. How are you holding up now that you are not at Eco Trulys? Do you have to force yourself to cut down your internet time?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It made me realize that I needed to be online less for my own health so when I’m bored I don’t just default to checking my email. Fortunately I need glasses for the computer so when my eyes start to get tired I take it as a sign I’ve been on too long.

  4. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World says:

    Went a weekend without internet and was overwhelmed with I came back to.

    I don’t know how you did it with 9 days πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think you go through the worst withdrawl symptoms within the first few days and then find it really freeing.

  5. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) says:

    Great post! I think most of us can relate. When I was on my honeymoon in Yellowstone, I didn’t have AT&T service or Internet access for days. It was a painful experience, but by the end I actually felt relaxed and didn’t miss it! It’s easy to get sucked in by the Internet– especially if you blog.

  6. Internet absence is nice, but I find it’s necessary to prepare for it by unsubscribing from mailing lists, stopping the stumble and google reader bits and so on – otherwise it ends up being overwhelming when starting up again.

  7. Justin Hamlin says:

    I was with you back then, back in the days of Gopher and other small intranets. Then came Netscape Navigator. Then came AOL. Then came the death of our productivity.

    I need to trim back. If I go 2-4 days without internet, I will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200+ RSS items (thank you Gizmodo/Engadget), who knows about the rest. RSS is my biggest problem. I just need to scale it back. Out of all of the content, I read maybe 5-10% of the crap. The blogs, I read them all, but the Engadget/Gizmodo stuff, very little.

    It is an important lesson to learn. For me, its turning the phone off. That is what I need to learn.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I had forgotten about Gopher!

  8. 546 emails? How many of those were from Nigerian Princes needing your help?

    New site looks great by the way. Much cleaner.

  9. Good for you on keeping with your resolution to do without internet for this time. Being able to disconnect from time to time is fantastic. It’s usually a bit overwhelming when you do finally get online, but at that point I’m also usually relaxed from whatever took me offline that I care a bit less…in a good way.

  10. Camels & Chocolate says:

    Oooh I met Jerry Rice at a Dancing with the Stars event I was working a few years ago. Nice guy! Also, what is with SU emailing me all the pages now. That’s a new thing, right?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think they made some changes while I was away and reset all the setting options so I mass deleted them but found them all on my toolbar.

  11. Rishe - Off Track Planet says:

    Wow. I take my hat off to you, cyborg of steel, because I don’t think this is something I could ever do. Last time I went without Internet for a long period was probably back in 10th Grade at summer camp. I came home to an overflowing AOL mail box. This past year, traveling in Spain, we went a week without Internet except sporadic wifi on my iPhone. I checked a few emails, but somehow missed out on hearing about a new Australian Prime Minister. I still feel like that week never existed aside from a few beaches and tapas bars in Andalucia. Honestly, it was awesome, but I don’t think I could do it again. Great post, but it’s nice to have you back πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks I’m sure my family will weigh in on this post to say that I indeed have an internet addiction problem so if I can do it anyone can.

  12. Trans-Americas Journey says:

    Great post. Living on the road and making our living while on the road means we are all too often tethered to our computers, much more than we should be. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself IT WILL WAIT and be in the moment wherever you are.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Coming back there are some nights I’ve come home and told myself I didn’t have to check my email, it could wait until morning.

  13. I think the best about this experience is that you had the strength of character to stick to a resolution. I wonder, has that been influenced by your experience with the Hare Krishnas?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well it was interesting to see the balance with simplicity, that was definitely inspiring.

  14. Oh I miss Netscape Navigator, but I don’t miss the 14.4 modem πŸ™‚ Can’t belive we accepted to wait for minutes just to load a single image, but we did. We didn’t knew any better back then.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You mean when you would click and then go do something else while it was loading πŸ™‚

  15. I beg to differ…you were introduced to the computer in 1981 when your father brought home this big clunky typewriter thingy that had something to do with DOS and “F’ number keys. You sat on his knee and pounded on the keys. I also remember how you and Ryan fought over computer time and god forbid that you had to wait to get on line cause we only had dial up…and then the last Christmas that you and your sister both were home I looked around the livingroom and both of you had your netbook/laptop firmly clutched in your hands as I sat at my desk computer…so caught up in the importance of staying in touch with people that matter that no one was talking…ah Christmas memories of made of this..lol. How the hell did we survive before the Information Highway! It is truly amazing that you were able to do this and come out the other side fully intact!

  16. Cherie @Technomadia.com says:

    Internet fasting is so good for the soul!! You’re right, the first couple days are the hardest.. but then, oh so nice!

    I’ve been online since the mid-80s, back in the days of 1200 baud modems, BBSs and Prodigy πŸ™‚ I remember the day I got my first 14.4 – it was a rush. It’s funny, now that I travel full time, I’ve had to recalibrate my definition of a good connection to back in ‘those days’ – as cellular data connections can be so hit or miss.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh wow Cherie I think you have us all beat!

  17. Remember how loud the modem was or fighting to use chat…those were the days!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah you couldn’t sneak on the Internet.

      I think it’s the sign of a generation if you can make the annoying connection sound of the modem.

  18. p.s. because you always email me back within minutes…I now expect everyone to email me back immediately

  19. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    I tried that once, not full on internet cleanse, but stopped doing some things for about 2 weeks. People remember you, but it seems they have somewhat forgotten me haha. People aren’t responding as much on my fb or twitter etc. I have to work my way back in? It’s the worst. Will never happen again… not to scare you haha.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Hmm Hogga maybe if you finally redesigned your header people would remember you and want more Microsoft paint goodness.

      1. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

        stop being so logical!

  20. Jools Stone says:

    Ray, go you! I did a week recently, didn’t miss it at all. LOVE the new look BTW, much improved and easier to read. πŸ™‚

  21. Awesome that you were able to do this! I need that amount of will power! πŸ™‚

  22. Now, this is the type of total cleanse all of us need every once in awhile. Good for you…glad that you held on to your resolve.

  23. I think I hear what you’re saying Ayngelina…. the heavy yoke you call ‘internet/twitter etc’ I use to call Nietzsche! I followed Zarathustra much in the same way you do the internet…. it can all be overwhelming ….makes no difference if a myriad of voices are going off in your head (internet) or one loud hammer sounding off (Nietzsche): it can give one a headache and make one reconsider as you have done in this post…. as I see it, in the end we’re forced to become murderer’s of our pigmy self in order for our bipedal self to rise to its natural height….and having no regrets in swallowing the snake before it swallows you!…. Kierkegaard wrote I still don’t know how many volumes (and I’ve foolishly read most of them) to say basically one simple thing : You want to live the true genuine individual life then be prepared to make a Decision : Either/Or …. however not everybody is born a lion or can survive the inclemencies of the desert – squirrels and foxes seem to be the present breed today…. Before I say : a bientot to you Ayngelina let me throw in a few of these our strong Canadian loonies (perfect for travelling!) into the Bacon is Magic wishing well and say in parting : J’espere que vous trouvez votre vie ou-vous le perdre! Ciao

  24. 10 days–that’s a lot! I’d love to detox without the Internet but it’s hard with a blog–I feel like I’m going to miss something important! Congratulations on making it through πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s exactly why I needed to take one, I realized that I didn’t miss out on much.

  25. Holy crap, that is a lot of emails!!! Glad you were able to resist!
    B well, Phil

  26. Good for you! We all need the occasional detox lest we turn into digital zombies.

    I’ll have my detox…um…soon πŸ˜‰

  27. I agree the internet does take up a huge part of many people’s lives, including mine. However to find that balance is very tough. I think I will have to test my stamina. I don’t know how long I would be able to last without it though.

  28. whaaaat? You’re not going to tweet me back? Tweet me back! Tweet me back!

    Err.. I mean, yay no internet!

  29. Christopher says:

    Very very true. But I still find myself looking for access. Recently in Turkey I was astounded and upset to discover that the internet cafes don’t have English language keyboards. I couldn’t even enter a password correctly to check my emails.

  30. I just accidentally did 3.5 days because I left my BlackBerry at home when we went to Patagonia this weekend, and it felt surprisingly good. After a momentary panic, I realized there was nothing I could do, and the odds of the world crumbling in my absence were pretty slim. My husband was shocked though when we ended up outside an internet cafe and I told him I didn’t feel like checking my email!

  31. Lauren Fritsky says:

    I’ve found lately that I really enjoying being disconnected from the Internet when on trips. On my trip to St. Lucia, I didn’t use it all, and was super relaxed. Same went for two days of my surf trip. I’m glad you are finding your happy medium and no you don’t need to be on all the time just because it’s there.

  32. I need to do a internet detox myself. Sometimes I feel like I have to answer everything immediately or something bad will happen.

    9 days is long! Way to go. I definitely would have cracked.

  33. monette | fliptravels says:

    funny sometimes when we stay online and yet we don’t have anything else to do after doing what we need to. i gues i have to start telling myself to log off and smell the flowers instead of staring blankly at the screen… head-whopping post! Ü

  34. Globetrottergirls says:

    Congratulations on 9 internet-free days!! That’s huge! we spend way too many time online ourselves and whenever we get somewhere where we don’t have wi-fi, we freak out at first… but always realize that it’s OKAY to be offline sometimes πŸ˜‰

    P.S. I remember how I got addicted to the internet in the mid 90’s… and how my sister, my brother and I fought about the computer πŸ˜€

    Dani @Globetrottergirls

  35. Have been thinking about this a bit myself lately. I have one friend who does at least 24 hours, sometimes 48, per week “unplugged.” When he doesn’t, he loses focus and has a hard time properly relaxing. Both of us have read The 4-Hour Workweek (highly recommended). He’s really dedicating himself to the “Zen Habits,” minimalistic lifestyle. The hubby and I are slowly plodding in that direction, as well.

    Much as I love computers, I think I’m going through a phase right now that is too virtual- and not enough real-world. Thanks for the reminder to breath, relax — and exist!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s almost like stuffed up sinuses – your head starts to get stuffed or overloaded with information but after 3-4 days

      I felt so much more inspiration for writing.

      I’m definitely taking more time off.

  36. Wow for 9 days, that’s alot emails. But you’re right that we don’t need to be online 24-7 just to check all these. I think I only went through 3 days without internet when I was in Lake George for a getaway trip. I was so eager to see if I can connect even with 3G, but fail. After 2nd day with all the fun things to explore I totally forget about my internet. haha It’s very interesting to read through you’re experience.

  37. It’s scary how much I need the internet! I am exactly the same, wondering if I am missing out on something or if so and so has e-mailed me back. I also use it as an information gatherer – googling things I am not sure of.

    Well done 9 days is a long time to go without internet πŸ™‚ I was frustrated with Luang Prabang lack of internet but I still went on most days

  38. There’s a real sense of freedom in taking time off from the internet — like so many tools supposed to make life easier, it ends up complicating it immensely.

    I’m looking forward to my next detox, too.

  39. Killer. I admire you. πŸ™‚

  40. Ha! I remember those days of waiting for pictures to download; except, I was waiting for Pamela Anderson, oh, how the times change. Glad to hear your detox worked, I may be heading for one myself.

  41. Oh lord… this is something that scares me. I am addicted to the internet and I know exactly when it started. My addiction started when I finally gave into the world of touch screen phones & mobile net. At that moment I realized I have the entire internet on the palm of my hands. I stayed connected and still do just about 24/7 it is so damn sad. That is why I vowed to NOT bring a CELL PHONE or iTOUCH on my RTW trip. If I do, I know me I will be walking the streets of ABC town searching for WiFi to connect. I rather just bring my laptop and be connected in the morning or at night when I don’t have anything to do.

    That will be my detox. I need it cus my habits are horrible I tweet all the damn time…lol!!!

  42. It’s great to get away from it all sometimes, though I’ll admit it’s not always easy. Congrats on making it through! πŸ˜‰ And the mangoes, very strange.

  43. What program are you using that compiles everything into one little neat package like that?

    And I have to admit that I was so shocked by the nazi mangos that I almost forgot everything I had just read. So I see how that kept you preoccupied on other things besides internet πŸ™‚

  44. Great test- it’s really fun seeing how many emails you missed and I always wonder how many of them are REALLY important vs. Facebook, Twitter, or spam comments!! love your challenge, but happy you are back online! I missed seeing you around the blogshere!

  45. Excellent post and do I ever relate! I am so attached to the internet – daily, hourly, by the minute – sometimes I feel like I can’t catch up.

    I’ve tried to go on an internet fast, but I really need to be cut off from it to maintain it – otherwise the prospect of logging in is too tempting. I’ve often wondered what the long term impact of this plugged in lifestyle is on our overall quality of life.

  46. I think I need to do this, not least because my other half is starting to feel like an inet widow. I get so caught up in the blog and social networking though.

  47. I think I would weep at the thought of what my inbox would look like if I left it alone for 9 days. :X

    I’ve been hooked since AOL 3.1 due to my dad being a super tech geek.

  48. Wow, you are one determined girl! Daily I fight the pull to check emails and check information on the web. I so agree with you that the Internet can wait. People don’t need immediate access to our thoughts and comings and goings!

  49. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Such a great lesson that we should all learn (once a year). I’m guilty as charged too! Though I do a pretty good job of disconnecting when traveling since my travel is short term.

  50. Dave and Deb says:

    Good for you. We just came off a week of no internet. We are still catching up on emails and everything else. But were happy to be able to really enjoy our travels instead of worrying about getting to the computer. Now however, it is an entirely different story:)

  51. The internet is such a funny thing. We want to be connected, but yet spending too much time online disconnects us from the real world. I thought it was bad enough when I had 80 unread Google Feeds. I think time offline is always a good thing.

  52. Claire Gibson says:

    Welcome back! Did you just feel instantly overwhelmed with all the internet notifications and delete them immediately? I would have been tempted……..

  53. I did the same thing a couple of times, and it can be a great thing to live without any internet connection for a while. But at the same time, I couldn’t stop thinking about the emails I was missing out one. Never realised how addicted it gets to check your mail every hour untill its impossible for a while.

    Those mangos are crazy πŸ™‚

  54. 9 days without the internet sounds like heaven! I think many of us fall into the trap of checking email, Twitter, our blogs, etc. more often than we really need to, often to the detriment of our health.

  55. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy says:

    I’m an internet junkie but I’ve found that unplugging is never as difficult as you think. You just have to do it sometimes, for the sake of your mental sanity!

  56. I went on an internet detox (though only for 5 days) when on holiday with the family which was interesting. I expected to be itching more for a connection but it wasn’t so. I wonder how much longer I could have gone without it.

    I’m also one of the few people NOT to use a cellphone which is another addiction people have (though I am tempted to get one now just to be able to take random photos). You see people together at a pub or wherever and they are all texting or talking on the phone instead of “being” with the people that are there.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I used a cell as my primary phone in Canada but now travel without one and some people think I’m crazy.

  57. That’s a wonderful lesson learned, sometimes we get so hooked in the net we forgot, we really don’t have to.

  58. I’ve been an online junkie since the Prodigy dial-up service came out in the States (many years ago). I’m not sure I could go nine days without even using the net for looking something up…I know it can be done, but it’s my sickness. John would agree. Maybe I should try your “diet.” I know I’ll be forced to when we do our week trek in Patagonia…will be a cool experiment for me!

  59. Apparently the Nazis were plumpier and tastier than we all thought, huh? haha, I loved the picture!

    And your post, too. I too have been using the net since way back, 1993 to be exact. Yep, I had an almighty big and bulky Motorola modem. Motosurfr I think, it was called.

    Cheers from Cancun,Mexico!

  60. I think it’s important to log off for a while to enjoy the offline world. Good thing that you pulled it off. BTW, only 77 spam after 9 days? You are loved! I get over 150 spam comments per day!

  61. Aaron Schubert says:

    Great post! I have to admit I spend a lot of time online too, of which a lot of it is wasted doing things that aren’t very important!

    It is nice to go away without the technology from time to time, and give yourself a break!

    Aaron

  62. You are a stronger woman than I am. It’s one thing if you have no access at all to go without, but to willingly forgo it, I don’t know if I could do it.
    Well done!

  63. I read recently that the reason we get addicted to the web is to do with the little rush we get from the “new e-mail” or “new notification” icon.

    I’ve generally found though that I can go for quite a while without the net, although when blogging you need to plan ahead to ensure you can keep content flowing.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can see that, on days that I post I have to drag myself away from the computer because I want to see if people are reading. But in reality I find if I go out for the day I have a much better sense of how people are reacting as it’s the overall response not hour to hour.

      My goal is to plan ahead better so I can spend more time being inspired for future posts.

  64. I am as addicted to the internet as anyone, but a couple of times a year I go hiking or canoeing for a week or so and I do not miss it. It makes it much more fun to go back to after an absence.

  65. Addiction to the internet…? Yes, I think many of us (including myself in that) are. So time away from it is a must. I loved that you listed what you’d “missed” – when you look at that list there’s nothing urgent, or high priority, or must be dealt with now, on it. And yet we check email every 20 minutes – just in case. The modern world is full of instant gratification and I think that that spills over into our internet lives – because the internet is instant, we feel that we have to respond to things instantly. The truth is though – that we don’t. Patience, patience, patience. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  66. The internet will always wait. πŸ™‚ But, yeah, I’m a netaholic too and don’t think I’ve gone that long without it since I first discovered it all those years ago.

    Like you, I’m also one of those people who look up things. I’ve never understood why there’s still so much ignorance in the day of Google.

    I’m hoping that my trip to South America will give me a chance to take self-reflecting long breaks from the internet. That won’t stop me bringing my laptop though. πŸ˜›

  67. Just back from an enforced internet diet myself. Don’t even want to count the emails waiting…the break was nice!

  68. DTravelsRound says:

    When I was backpacking, there wasn’t really a day that went by where I didn’t at least log-in to something. Until I got to Croatia. A friend I made there did her best to pry me from the internet, from blogging, from being connected. She finally got her way when we ended up in Solta, a little Croatian island with no internet. At all. It was nice to not be connected. And, you know what? The world didn’t stop. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  69. Cornelius Aesop says:

    I agree with what a few others have said, it would be hard. Harder now that I have a blog. And I’ve noticed due to time my lack of FBooking and Tweeting has had me fall out of the loops with others and if I constantly tweet I can find my way back in but social networking had become a big time suck especially away from my blog. hmmm decisions.

    P.S. – The whole stumble upon in my email was a bit of a surprise too. I need to disable that quickly.

  70. Nomadic Chick says:

    It’s true, you don’t always need to be on the net.. but I do feel behind since volunteering and all the people I use to talk to kinda disappeared. Or I did. Anyway, 546 email is mental!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it, most of us are still here hanging on your every word.

      1. Nomadic Chick says:

        Nah, if that were true, why that would make Jesus or something. πŸ™‚

  71. Pingback: Equipment Fail: 10 Traps of Travel Technology | Fevered Mutterings
  72. We neglected internet a lot when we are on the road. There are just a lot types of adventures that doesn’t go along with internet. We are blogging for our travel, right, not traveling for our blog. So Travel first. But yea, it’s painful to see what we have to catch up in the end. Just a week ago I have 500 in my stumble upon shares (the max number), and something is wrong with the system so the only way to empty it is to open one by one in this slow internet connection. I saw many articles from back in Nov 2010. It’s down to 110 now.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have always been super connected and actually never got a Blackberry because I knew it would just feed my addiction. And now I seem to thrive on the blog. Even while being away I still wrote daily, just not online.

  73. When on the road I feel the urge to stay away from my blog every few days. Take a day off, maybe two, sometimes even more. As much as I like sharing my stories and interacting with readers, I also appreciate not having to type and simply enjoying my trip. This said I fortunately don’t receive as many emails, though Twitter is going nuts lately!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You are much better, but I am going to try to learn from this break and have more of them.

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