Get Off The Internet: My One Week Detox

Starting August 1st, I’m taking a seven day self-imposed internet detox.

This will be a mash-up of what I’ve seen some bloggers do, plus my own experiences when I’ve unplugged myself and reaped the benefits. I’m one of those people who often has ten or more tabs open–Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, Google Cal, TeuxDeux, 101Cookbooks, NYTimes.com, Gothamist, Flavorpill–and have more and more found myself forgetting small things and cutting out what’s important to me: reading, writing, and routine.

So for the first week of August, I’m taking a break. I won’t be working, so won’t have to worry about the overlap of ordering finger paint or Googling fabric recycling for my boss with my total detox. I’m planning to put up a vaca message on my e-mail, leave a call-me-if-you-need-me post on Facebook, and turn off my airport. In return, I’m hoping for quality writing time, catch up on the stack of paperbacks and literary magazines on my desk, and a general sense of relief that I’m not juggling fourteen tasks and eighteen thoughts every moment. We’ll see if I can do it without a slip–checking e-mail on my craptastic Nokia in the middle of the night in a bought of insomnia, Twittering via text message, jumping onto Facebook just to see if anyone misses me. God knows I love me some internet. Here are some answers to some hypothetical questions about problems that could arise from being sans internet for seven days:

What about your weather.com addiction?

I get the paper on the weekends, and it gives a broad forecast for the coming week. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ll just carry my umbrella with me everywhere in case of a pop up summer storm I wasn’t told about.

What if someone really, really, really awesome and important sends you an e-mail about something awesome and important?

I’m gonna include my phone number in my e-mail vaca automatic-reply thingie, so I’m hoping if something is dire (or awesome), the person will gimmie a ring.

What if one of the dozen of MFA programs that rejected you or couldn’t offer funding suddenly decides they love your writing and/or has found a bundle of scholarship cash hidden in someone’s desk drawer and desperately wants to know if you want the spot?

Pssshhhtttt.

What if you get invited to some killer party via Facebook and everyone assumes you know about it and that you’re not RSVPing because you’re a jerk who doesn’t wanna go?

I know, I plan a scary proportion of my life via Facebook events and seeing what my friends are doing through their status updates. However, it’s just one week. Friends will text me if there’s some killer thing happening that they think I should come to.

What if you need to Google Map some place you want to go to?

This August makes 9 years of living in New York, so I think I can forgo maps for a bit. I’m mostly hoping I can survive a week without compulsively plotting every bike lane and block that I’m traveling on.

What about all the checking and updating of your bank account that you do through the internet? What about making sure your bills are getting paid and you’re not overdrafting all over the place?

Online banking is totally my crutch, and I use it like normal people use checkbooks, so I’m planning to make sure all my affairs are in order, then take out a bit of cash and work off that instead of my debit card, just to keep things cool.

What if you’re reading a book and it starts talking about someone or something that you just have to know more about and you can’t Wikipedia it or Google image search it right there and then?

Apparently, the word Wikipedia is derived from something called Encyclopedias. Which I can find at something called the Library. Tedious, yes, but I’m hoping that any hands-on sleuthing I’ll have to do during my detox will be totally worth it.

What if Lady Gaga releases a new video and it’s totally hot and queer and you’ll absolutely positively die to see it?

It’s. Just. Seven. Days.

…is there anything I’m missing? I have more than a week to geek out on my daily internet dosage before taking a plunge. I’m trying to get my fill of cat youtube videos and photo tagging before the end of the month.

xo,

c

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110 thoughts on “Get Off The Internet: My One Week Detox

  1. Good luck with your detox! I don’t know how quickly you’ll be starting this but I’m guessing you didn’t think this would make freshly pressed, so this is one of those totally awesome things you had no clue of happening. Stay strong and enjoy your time off of the net!

  2. Oh my goodness, I think I might have to jump on this as well. My internet time is starting to seriously affect my writing output (not to mention my children’s happiness).

  3. Love it. Enjoy the break. May any shakes you experience only come from the frozen dairy treat. Question though: Texting is allowed? Your FB friends should pick up the cute, blue princess phone and give you a ringy dingy notifying you of events vs. sending you a text. Respectin’ the detox n’ all. G’luck!

  4. I love this post! I wish more people took the time to do this. I might be able to make one day then I would cave.

  5. It is a revolutionary idea to live without internet. Probably the scariest thought I had for the past few weeks. Are you sure you will survive that? Maybe total detox may not be a good idea. At least, keep the Gameboy near you…

    Good luck. I am rooting for you.

  6. I really hope that you’ll give us daily updates on this blog to let us know how you’re getting on? ;)Sorry

  7. Good luck! It’s amazing how the internet has slowly taken over our days. But you can do it. Seven days isn’t that long – and you’ll be able to dive into a good book.

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  9. Good luck! I have withdrawels after only two hours. Speaking of, I need to unplug for my daily writing session. -.- If I didn’t need to, I wouldn’t be here, blabbing.

  10. This is an awesome idea! except that work requires I be on the internet so unless i schedule a vacation week specifically just to detox i’m pretty much stuck where i am!

  11. I’ve done it before. In your list of “what ifs” there is nothing that can’t be done without the internet, and if there are people who can only contact you through the internet, realize that there is a reason they don’t have your phone number or address to begin with and stop worrying. Online banking? Your debit card plan is good… or you can go to the bank to do your banking.

  12. What a fantastic idea! I know that a few years ago, I took some time where I would de-activate my facebook account (not The Intentional Sage’s, but the person behind The Intentional Sage), and I found it very refreshing.

    To take a full-on Internet detox, wow! That’s a lot of gusto! I hope it brings you exactly what you’re looking for.

    With Love and Gratitude,

    The Intentional Sage

  13. Great idea. I’m doing a mini-detox by not using twitter this week – not via phone or computer.Unfortunately, I’m still stuck with emails & internet for work. My real detox will be when I’m on vacation to Yellowstone the end of August. No phone, email or anything else. I can’t wait!

    Good luck and enjoy the freedom and extra time you’re bound to have.

  14. LOL.. That indeed happens..
    As a thumb rule, I keep only Google up for references while compiling posts..
    At times FB, Twitter and such could be really distracting..
    ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I was planning on doing a 24-hr no internet thing (a la http://bigturnoff.org/main/), but your plan sounds so much better !

    I figure after spending a week without internet, phone, etc. in a desert (Burning Man), once I come back, it’ll be a lot easier to ease out of my addiction to tech.

    Thanks for the post !

    -b

  16. This is awesome, good luck and enjoy! I just finished my detox last week, and it was immensely liberating! The cool thing is how expansive time became…suddenly there’s hours and hours to read books, write novels and short stories long hand, doodle, drink tea, and to simply sit back and listen–to oneself, the birds chirping, the thunder and rain, even the traffic outside. It all becomes very alive ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a great time!

  17. You can do it. While I understand the FOMO (fear of missing out) on Facebook events and emails, I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly refreshed. I often completely check out and leave people confused, which is why I don’t make a very good blogger but BAH! the online world is a bit like a soap opera – you can miss a week and still jump right back in without missing a beat.
    Also, encyclopedias, books and pens feel very very good in your hands.

  18. …but why?? I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be blind or deaf and spending a day without to gain an understanding or appreciation for how lucky we are – but why go without the internet? In my mind, I only gain less.

    • I’m doing this to disengage for a bit, to look at paper instead of screens, slow down instead of cram more. I’m hoping to gain more productivity in other internet-less realms of my life.

  19. Best of luck! It honestly sounds like heaven being off of this thing for 7 days. Will be on the lookout for your detailed story of how everything went ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. First of all ~ love your theme! I have the same;)

    Second of all, you go girl! I am soo not far behind, however planning said vacation and much needed detox will take some time to schedule.

    While working for AT&T for 3 years I carried my personal phone and a work phone. I always had a Blackberry and an iPhone. It was fun, but often heavy and annoying. I mean how could I truly come up with excuses for unanswered calls and texts when EVERYONE knew I always had them. Bah!

    When I chose school over work and decided to become permanently broke, (at least until graduation) I was uber excited to become unattached to my mythical devices.

    BUT, journalism school sure isn’t about being detached and I now find myself more attached than I thought possible. While I rant and rave about how horrible TV is and what mess is creates in someone’s brain ~ I seriously need to apply that same wisdom to my own internet fetish. More, more, more…

    Seven days. Your post really has me thinking now…

  21. I wish you the best of luck! I’m not sure I could break myself away from the internet for longer than seven minutes much less seven days. Do you think this time away will change your internet habits in anyway or will you go right back to normal when this is over? An interesting experiment!

    • I’m curious how/if it’ll change my internet habits. Hopefully I see how much more productive I can be writing-wise when I unplug and thus be more ready to turn off the internet for a certain amount of time each day. We’ll see!

  22. can’t wait to hear about it once it’s done! funny how the clicking and updating and checking thing creeps up on us like that, isn’t it? sometimes i do a half day detox, and that’s enough to rebalance me for a while.

  23. I wish you the best of luck. This is something I really need to do myself. I’ve managed to mostly break myself from social networking but I still have a hard time turning it all the way off.

  24. this is fabulous. You’re taking a fast lol or a selah from the everyday routine… cool post. Makes me think what I need to give up to start focusing on important things.

  25. Hooray for internet detox! Good luck with that and thanks for giving me something interesting to do if ever I’m too stressed and overwhelmed with my freelance jobs. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. this is awesome…not just the detox and such, but your writing style in this entry. you made me laugh in a smart way. i did the week fb detox a few weeks ago. it was great. i can’t do the whole interweb detox as per my job as an IT phenomenon, but i bet it would be heaven. enjoy.
    c

  27. Refreshing. I know many who couldn’t do it under any circumstances, though I wish they would.

    While I do have to rely on email with work, I can certainly stay away from the rest of it once I get past the company “fan page” Facebook updates I do every morning.

    Maybe I’ll do that. Or maybe I should just take a vacation, something I haven’t done for three years.

  28. itโ€™s not the “UNLIKELY” situations you’ll struggle with… itโ€™s the mundane… checking a movie time or the weather will far more test your strength of the abstinence than… all those nutty ones you listed! LOL

    Good luck I think it will be beneficial you know being that people have done it for 10s of thousands of years HAHA!
    You should pray/meditate in lieu of internetting it upโ€ฆ.and keep a HANDWRITTEN LOG… of how its going day by day!

  29. Personally, I think moderation is key. It is great to do a whole week and I wish you luck with it. I’ve gone for months without my own internet and only going online at my college at the time. It was refreshing and uber productive! Now, I limit my internet time to a total of 12 hours a week…with the exception of the occasional netflix movie, but internet browsing time. This is mostly for work purposes and to apply for any better jobs I find. However, I do not depend on things like facebook to know what’s going on. …Like I said, when the week is over, try moderation…it’s good for your brain and health too!

  30. This is hilarious. I’ve done it before, you get some withdrawal symptoms but you’d be amazed how your quality of life improves. I also did it with TV and WOW! Can’t even watch it anymore! Have fun and Good Luck, no sneaking back on here, you hear! ;~)

  31. I remember taking a TV detox week in junior high as part of an assigned project. I thought I was going to die! But it flew by and I remember being surprised by how easy it was. I should take your advice and do a similar thing again. Put the crackberry away and see how it goes!
    Good for you. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

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  33. Go for it! You can do it! I met lots of people while traveling and most of them cannot disconnect when traveling/backpacking. It’s the one thing I look forward to, especially on vacation! I refuse to get a blackberry or iPhone because I choose not to be connected all the time! It’s a choice you make ๐Ÿ™‚
    http://www.offtrackbackpacking.com

  34. also a reader and writer, I would love to take a week like you are and indulge myself purely in my art… But I would have to go on vacation, leave the area, something to stay away from this damn laptop… You have my utmost respect and I wish you luck on this journey! make sure you come back to tell us all about it!

  35. You are a damn good writer! Though I might throw that out there. I’m new to your blog, and find the whole detox thing to be a wonderful idea.

    I’m getting prepared to apply around for my MFA โ€” where all did you apply? What type of writing do you enjoy most?

    I’m the Opinions editor for a local newspaper, and focus the majority of my personal writing on music โ€“ย interviews, previews, reviews, etc.

    If you get a chance, you should drop by my site. I do a “Song of the Day,” which i’m not sure if that at all fascinates you, and I have everything i’ve ever published in the paper posted.

    I really enjoy the site. Good luck on your detox! You just got a new fan.

    – Joe

    joexwilliams.wordpress.com

    • Thanks Joe! I have a bunch of blog posts about the trials of applying to MFA programs last fall. If you look around the Sept/Nov/Dec 2009 archive you’ll find them. I write mostly memoir, short stories, YA, and essays/interview, but love taking a crack at fiction (it’s what I applied in, actually, although now I question why). Do you know about the MFA Blog? (http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/) It was a terrific resource when applying (but I do caution against it once all your apps are in–it was crazy making!) Good luck! xo c

  36. I got off the internet for one week last summer. It was a descent into madness the first couple of days, then I plateaued and did other things, like Sudoku, picked up the newspaper and actually read it, did crossword puzzles, had conversations. It was quite fascinating. Have fun!

  37. Cool post and good luck on your cold turkey! I’m going to subscribe to you so I can watch your progress (AFTER the week in question of course!) …

    I should do the same with my iPhone.. I.am.so.completely.addicted.to.it.!!!

  38. I want to wish you luck, but I’m openly cringing at the very thought of unplugging. I tried it one time too. Even turned the Blackberry off completely… lasted about 4 hours. So my only advice to you is to make sure you have enough happy distractions to keep you occupied.
    Fare thee well, madam!

  39. This idea scares me! (I also think it’s a great idea). Keep up the good work and good luck with your mission.

  40. This seems like a very good idea. But I don’t know if I could do it. Like you I rely on the internet so much nowadays and am absolutely addicted to twitter, facebook and blogging. I also have forgotten a lot of small things because of ‘wasting’ time clicking links.

    But I give you my support. Good luck and I hope you get what you want out of this. I’m sure you’ll update everyone once you’re back. =)

  41. Good on you. I think this is a great idea which stirs me to suggest an ‘International No Internet’ week or something of that ilk. You know they have days and weeks for everything.
    Whilst I don’t spend a huge amount of time on-line, I still think it is good to have one day a week free. I have been doing this but cheating by choosing a full work-day/night out day instead of a weekend one so I think I might be stronger and declare every Sunday an internet free day. Thanks for the inspiration.

  42. I like this thought. I decided on this past weekend that I would NOT switch my computer on for the entire weekend. I was all alone, and it seemed a very long weekend. Good luck with it. Look forward to hearing how the 7 days went.

  43. Ha! “Iโ€™m trying to get my fill of cat youtube videos” was the funniest part of the whole thing! I like that. It seems you place cute kitteh’s above all in the world of Internet!

    I think I’ll try and copy you too. The Internet is such a parasite.

  44. I’m so impressed! I think this is fantastic. Good luck to you! You will probably feel so refreshed after that week… ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. Couldn’t’ve asked for a better send off than the more than 3,000 hits this post got after being on Freshly Pressed! Thanks again for all the luck + comments, I’m now triple-excited for my internet detox.

    A lot of people mentioned how hard it is to put down the iphone/blackberry component of being super connected. Truth be told, I wouldn’t be able to take a detox if I still had an iphone. Since the iphone came out, I was mugged twice and then had my third iphone stolen. So I’ve been in limbo while I decide whether or not they’re worth it (or if I qualify for some kind of awful-iphone-luck scholarship for my fourth).

    Meanwhile, I’ve stockpiled books, writing projects, recipes, friends, phone numbers, free concert schedules, hours of coffee shops, and other internet-less things. Check back here after 8/8 to hear my report from the other side! xo, c

  46. lol..cool. i just thought what i wrote was not controversial or too redonkulous… :] then i started to get paranoid like…oh no do i know this girl…i have a bike…i live in nyc…i like the ladies…or do her friends know me and…well let’s just say nyc is a very small town and sometimes too small… glad it just got lost in the mix… you don’t have to approve this comment…just saying…
    c.

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  49. LOL! Love it…and more power to you! When you get back from your detox, just remember…everything in stride! Too much of anything can be bad, even when it feels so darn tootin’ good! You’ll do it. I’m sure you will. See you August 8th…or 9th…or whenever you decide to rejoin our world ๐Ÿ™‚

    http://angnic.wordpress.com

  50. I love how you are all craving an update on what it was like to live offline for a whopping 7 days ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wish you the best of luck, Courtney – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I just spent a whole week offline myself, and two weeks with my mobile switched off. Tedious? Yes! But it all still works out there, in the “real” world, you know ๐Ÿ˜‰

  51. I’m excited to hear your feedback after the week! It’s definitely just 7 days, but in a world run by technology, that’s a lifetime! Have fun reading- and writing your thoughts down with a real pen and paper ๐Ÿ™‚

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  55. Wonderful article post on the blog bro. This particular is just a tremendously nicely structured blog post, just the data I was looking just for. Thank you

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  57. Pingback: Goodbye, Internet! Hello, August! | Courtney Gillette

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