Monday, January 23, 2012

Can You Go A Day Without the Internet?

I am posing this question to all my readers, knowing full well that it is really quite contentious to bring up the topic in a forum that is clearly fueled by the power of the internet. After all, by definition, the existence of blogging relies solely on the web.

And that is only a small part of how the internet is complexly woven into our daily lives, isn't it? A day without the internet (or any sort of web-based applications) would mean using our iPhone only to make phone calls, and having to look up the number in a phone book, or <gasp> call 411. It would mean finding a recipe in a cookbook, not on (which totally rocks, by the way!).

I wonder how many of us, as parents, use the web to answer day-to-day questions about everything from how long it takes to roast a chicken, to what should I do if my child's fever spikes to 103? Could we get through a day without Google or Wikipedia?

At this point, I should interject with the disclaimer that my interest in this topic has nothing to do with SOPA or PIPA or any other internet legislation coming down the pike. I am really just curious from a personal perspective.

So why my obsession with trying to get through a day completely off the grid? Well, I have been paying a lot of attention to the concept of "screen-time" for my little ones. This does not mean that I have limited that screen time as much as I probably should. But at least I have been aware, and that is a start.

And as I have tried to set, at least in my mind, reasonable limits, it has led me to wonder - what if my kid told me that she absolutely could not survive a day without going on-line for one reason or another? Would I not feel like just about the crappiest parent out there? Clearly, I would have gone wrong somewhere along the line, if I raised my kid to be so cyber-dependent, right?

And yet, if you were to ask ME to go a day without the internet, in some form, or another, could I do it? Would I even try?

If the answer were no, then it should stand to reason, that my own kids, with me as their model, will someday be just as dependent, I suppose.

But if I really could do it, would the results open my eyes in some way? Would I see that I can turn to friends and family with my tough parenting questions, and not rely on the collective "wisdom" of some user-group of parents, hundreds of miles away, that I will never meet.

Would I find answers to my little one's questions like, "what kind of bird is that?, by finding some old book in library, and leafing through the pages together until we found a match?

Perhaps I could show my budding reader about how a newspaper is laid out, with headlines, and comics, and the weather report, and teach her how to get the day's news and forecast without pressing a single button.

Maybe, just maybe, I would spend 100% of a day thinking only about what is going on in the lives of people I interact with on a human level, not a cyber level. I would not "Update My Status" in any way other than calling a friend a to tell her how I am doing or recapping with my husband at the end of the day.

I left my phone in the car (by accident, of course) when I took Little Diva to sporting event yesterday, and after a good 10 minutes of nervous supposition about how I would make it through the game without out it, I let it go, and we somehow survived three periods of regulation, over-time and a shoot-out. Of course, no one got to see a picture of us posing together in the stands, and there were no OMG's or play-by-plays of our adventure via Social Media.

But we had a great time, and I truly enjoyed the lack of distraction. Those moments belonged to us, and to no one else. I sense that we, as a society, are experiencing fewer and fewer of times like those, and I know I, at least from time to time, feel powerless to change that.

But I am curious to know if any of you are interested in trying this social experiment with me. One day, no internet. Think we can do it? Care to give it a try?

PS - I will not be offended or judgy in any way if people are like "H-no, that is just a totally dumb idea, go buy something on Amazon and get off our backs".