I blame Joshua Fields Millburn. And by blame, I mean thank. And by thank, I really do be thank. Today is the last day of the first week of my Internet detox. Before you get up in arms and scream “What! You gave up the internet!?”, let me explain.
On September 1st, I moved to a new city and into my first solo apartment in four years. I am a teacher and have been doing replacements throughout the province for the last three years, living mostly in fully furnished apartments and efficiency suites, and once, in a friends’ spare bedroom. Due to my moving around and not actually having had my own place, I found there to be a lot of things to consider when looking for my new apartment.
In Gander, my new place of residence, rent is high if you want a nicely completed, newly finished apartment. This might seem excessive for someone aiming for minimalism, to expect so much and willingly pay more but all of the less expensive apartments were old, poorly constructed and, honestly… stinky. I also suffer from frequent sinus infections and have been known to have an allergy to dust when it is most inconvenient. For these reasons, I wanted a newer apartment and I quickly realized I would have to pay dearly for one.
I crunched the numbers after saying yes to an apartment whose rent did scare me a little but I have this penchant for underestimating how much I can actually afford, having previously had great stress due to financial issues during my second university degree. It was totally doable, with a good financial cushion after all my expenses were paid but one number stuck out to me from my budget and it bugged the hell out of me. The Internet bill.
A hundred dollars seemed like a lot, especially if you considered the fact that five days a week I would only be using it for maybe four hours a day. Four hours I should be spending reading more books, writing more things, working on this blog, cleaning my apartment and, most importantly, exercising my body. The Internet was taking me away from all of these things and I was paying for it to do it! It was like hiring someone to come rob your house. This quickly dawned on me and the rationale behind such a service (or should I say, dis-service) went right out the window. That was that – I would not be putting the Internet into my apartment.
Where does Joshua Fields Millburn come in? Well, I credit him with giving me the idea. I have really been diving into minimalism lately and have read, watched and listened to quite a few things on the subject. Trying to live more intentionally has always aligned with my personal values and, the older I get; the louder I realize the objects in my life are. Introducing, The Minimalists.
If you have never heard of Joshua F. M. and Ryan Nicodemus, they are two guys whose life purpose is to spread the word on how living with less and living more mindfully can lead you to the life you so greatly wish to attain. In one of the first of their podcasts that I listened to, Joshua mentioned that he had given up not only his television but also his Internet service. My problem with the Internet had already been ticking away inside my brain so this fact jumped right out at me. He talked of how productive he was, how little difficulty he had compared to what he had expected and how, having to intentionally schedule time to go out and seek the service, had led him to use the service in a better way. All of this resonated with me and so I made that decision consciously, and, might I had, happily.
Let me tell you, it is not easy. It’s not as hard as you expect but it is not easy. It also takes getting used to. It’s really only been about a week without Internet at my apartment and, for the first few days, it sucked. It sucked hard core. My phone package comes with 2.5 GB of data and I have run out of that plus a bump up package that I bought since I had so carelessly dwindled that package pre-move. But! Big hairy butt. It is getting easier.
I have noticed a definite difference in my behavior over the last few days. School has started again and I have even noticed a difference there. I use less Internet at work, during the day and break times as well as at home. I have already taken more time to read, I have started writing again and my house is very clean. It is so easy to put off doing things you want to do (read, write, yoga, etc.) and things you need to do (laundry, the dishes, etc.) when the Internet is just waiting for you around every corner, smiling and holding up the pictures of cats in hats, dogs doing funny poses, endlessly streaming television, movies and YouTube videos. Everything else can wait when you have those things at your fingertips. It’s like a twitched. We just can’t help it. It’s mesmerizing, enticing, enchanting. You need to break the cycle yourself, or you never will.
If this seems daunting to you, don’t be afraid. It’s the easiest challenge to take on because everywhere has free Wi-Fi these days. If you get really stuck, go grab a coffee and bring your laptop or go to the library. It’s also comforting to remember that it only takes a phone call to get someone to come install it if you find that you really NEED it but be careful. Need is one of the most dangerous words in the English language. Make sure you really, truly, actually need it before you make that call.
I haven’t had to dial that number just yet and I hope that I don’t have to. I am not setting out to fail this challenge but just to try it. Worst-case scenario, this month is absolute hell and I call the Internet company on October 1st but! Big, glorious, hairy butt – BEST case scenario; I love living this way and don’t install the Internet. Ever.
Either way, it’s 100$ a month that I now have, in my pocket, to do whatever I like with. For me, that crisp hundred is going into a savings account so that by Christmas time, I have enough saved to put an extra monthly payment for on my student loan. Going Internet free is going to help me go debt free. How you spend your hundred is completely up to you! I’m not sure what the rest of the month will bring but, to be honest, I only see it being positive.