Some people wake up with a bad-breathed loved one in their midst, some with a furry friend, or some, like me when I was a worthless boring college student, wake up with a warm computer on the pillow next to them. I’ve always spent too much time on the Internet. From the time I was a tween, I began building my personal online identity via AIM profile pages with slutty clip art dolls, horrific quotes like “music is my boyfriend” and posted low-res photos of myself with Kool-Aid tips because I was SO ALT.

But then, in college, I got really really into the Internet. I did all the things to get you on an NSA checklist — I downloaded TOR, I went on the Silk Road (RIP), I spent every night on Reddit trying to find the scariest thing on the Internet. (Look at this, alone at 3am with all the lights off and tell me you didn’t pee a little.)

Then, one night while drinking ChocoVine in my underwear, I decided enough is enough. I was tired of spending every night inside, online, wasting countless hours looking at recipes I would never cook, writing lists of books I would never read and compiling Pinterest cleaning guides that I would never, ever use. All while my poor boyfriend was practically being cuckolded by Buzzfeed quizzes as our sex life dwindled. I looked up how to remove the airport card — that’s what makes the WiFi work in case you’re 70 years old — from my computer.

Wielding a tiny screwdriver with the dexterity of a blindfolded 4-year-old, I managed to remove the airport from my computer … and leave it out … for 6 months.


1. I stopped giving a fuck about what everyone else was doing

I was no longer forced to see crap like Becky Whocares from High School’s ugly babies on Facebook first thing in the morning, and with that, I stopped having these tiny obsessions with people I didn’t even care about. All the weird comparing — like, why don’t I have the body of a 12-year-old boy like those NastyGal models — ended when I wasn’t sponging up a bunch of bullshit about people who are smarter, thinner, more successful than me doing cooler things than me.

2. I realized I was kind of basic

Without the chatter of Netflix, Hulu, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, and every other distraction factory, my house and mind seemed really, really quiet. I realized how much time that I had spent feeling like I was doing something, when actually I had just been occupying my brain with media junk food like “What Game of Thrones Character Are You In Bed, You Know, Sexually?” when I don’t even fucking watch Game of Thrones. With all this newfound free time, I eventually got bored just sitting on my bed and started doing basic bitch things like exercising and reading books in the park.

3. I sort of became a nihilist

By not interacting with the web, I was faced with the very obvious fact that it really doesn’t fucking matter. Someone may be wildly popular on a website like Flickr, and then a few years later the website is obsolete (seriously, does Flickr still exist?). The worlds we create online are flimsy and transient, the stories we read disappear from our news feeds and brains pretty much immediately after contact. All content exists pretty much to trick readers into funneling advertising money into the pockets of dudes who look like Jim Gaffigan, except meaner. Everything is nothing, nothing matters, go read some fucking Kafka and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

4. I did what may seem impossible … reverted back to pre-Internet times

With my computer removed from my routine (wake up at noon, eat Spaghetti O’s, walk my roommates poop machine monster of a dog, pretend to be nice at work, have sex, sleep) I FORGOT THE INTERNET EVEN EXISTED. I know, it seems crazy when it’s such a pervasive part of modern life, but trust me, once it was out of my life, like a creepy uncle or a really bad roach problem, it eventually began to waft from my thoughts until it no longer existed.

I only lasted six months because, let’s be real, the Internet is an amazing research tool and I am an idiot without it. You're on it right now, reading this, so you can be a "better person." It has its merits. 

When I came back, though, things were a little … different for me. By breaking those habits of comparison, discovering a life back in reality, and realizing that the web didn’t really matter as much as I thought it did, I found that the Internet didn’t hold the same power as it did before. Sadly enough, it was the first time in my adult life that I spent a significant time away from my computer, and with that I just gained some perspective.

I’m not suggesting we go all Amish and burn our MacBooks, but maybe a little time away isn’t the worst thing. Plus, you can save all that money from not having to pay WiFi, and book a trip to Hawaii … or buy beer, life's realest, most important pastime.

[originally published October 5, 2017]