Monday, October 6, 2008

Why Not Having the Internet is Kind Of a Good Thing

Not having the internet in my apartment is making me feel like a real asshole millennial on the basis that it is driving me slowly mad. Once every couple of hours I run across the street and sit on the edge of the gate of the Luxembourg Gardens and wave my laptop wildly around trying to snatch an open WiFi connect. The whole thing has made me realize how truly boring I am, which is something I kind of knew all along.

But what does one do without the internet? The answer is easy: things that we did before the internet was invented, but does anyone actually remember what those things were? It took me a few days, but I've recently become reacquainted: Reading actual books, writing things that aren't blogs, watching movies not on YouTube. Smoking a lot of cigarettes. Staring blankly at the wall and hoping for an idea to come into your head. Decorating and redecorating the tiny corner of the apartment that is "yours." Finding new and exciting ways to make pasta (without the stove because I can't afford a huge electricity bill! I just use this awesome hot water heater I have and it gets slightly cooked!) Smoking a lot of cigarettes. Complaining about France's lack of tofu. (See what I did there? I mocked myself!) Doing homework two weeks in advance. Going to sleep at a reasonable hour. Smoking a lot of cigarettes.

I've found that huge chunks of my day that used to be swallowed by some kind of technological vortex have suddenly reappeared. I actually have time to do my homework now. I have time to go to sleep. Not to mention it helps to keep me from reading negative things about myself on the internet, of which there are certainly many. Read: Not having the internet can be good for self esteem! But also bad because my imagination is probably far worse. (But really, on that note, God do I wish my parents had the kind of pull to nab me cool writing gigs, but alas, they work in public education in Pennsylvania. :-( This is actually tied to the reason I can study abroad in Paris this semester: it has little to do with my parents' salaries and a lot to do with the fact that the President of NYU had one of his adorable PR slip-ups and mocked me for being poor, I got all outraged, and thus materialized a little thing called "a study abroad scholarship" but also potentially called "gag money.")

Not having the internet means I actually see Paris instead of Google imaging it, which would probably be my tendency because my apartment is cozy and the days can be so dreary. It assuages a lot of the anxiety, the obligation, of the internet. I don't have to check my e-mail because... I can't! Of course, many times I am overcome with waves of paranoia like "what if something happened to someone I care about and the only way I would know is through e-mail which I don't have." But I smoke another cigarette and these fears pass, and overall, it's a good exercise for a spoiled millennial who is consistently tethered to her laptop. The other students here who have had no luck hacking into WiFi connections in their apartments have also mentioned that it's rather freeing, but also kind of suffocating, because you are very much alone without the internet: no wanton latenight AIM convos = no ambient intimacy! And international phone calls are so fucking expensive. But furthermore, not personally having the internet means less whining about being tofuless, which is inarguably one of the nicer things I've done for the internet community.



ryan manning said...

the next night we ate whale

Jimmy said...

Your depiction is perfect.

I spent a week in central Mexico last year with no internet and I become entirely detached from the world. For a full week I didn't once get raging angry at something Hillary Clinton said. It was good for my nerves on a lot of levels... But I just bought a Blackberry which just destroyed me I think.

maitresse said...

LOL. When I studied abroad (in Paris) in 1999, we had to go all the way to school to check our email, in a computer lab. I didn't even bring a computer with me to France! I didn't even have a laptop back then! Ah, nostalgia. I guess this makes me an "olds." :)

Jess and Josh said...


i know it makes me spoiled and ridiculous for feeling so weird without the internet but it is the condition of the millennial, and also of college students today, to be lost without our latenight AIM convos.

(it also makes me just plain ridiculous that i sit outside in the dark across from my apartment just to get wifi. which i'm doing right now. and guys go "ALLORS, LA SORBONNE?" and then i stare quizzically at them)

Michael said...

I think I'm experiencing the exact opposite. For the longest time I had really crappy dial-up and now that I've gone to college I have high speed internet ALL THE TIME.

It's overwhelming. I've notice such an incredible disconnect between everyone around me. People get together, sit in their dorms with their laptops, and don't talk to each other at all. The most honest and intimate interactions I've had here are on aim or through facebook.

It's depressing but inescapable.

rebekker said...

"Ambient intimacy"! Great phrase, is it yours?

I find, in general, that too much of any media is a bad thing, be it TV, internet, um, radio I suppose? Reading, even, occasionally.

Did you hear Moe Tkacik was fired? I want to hear your take on that, as she seems like the sort of person who would be happier/more productive if she weren't so internetty.

Jess and Josh said...

Ambient intimacy is from a NYT magazine article!

I did hear Moe was fired but I have no comment. The economic downturn is not a good thing for any of us.