March 24 was the Shutdown Day. The day when www.shutdownday.org challenged everybody to just leave his computer alone. Not even a quick peek in the inbox, no speedy chats with buddies, nor aimless watching of pets and animals (and bad Idol contestant) videos on YouTube.
In March, a couple of weeks before the Shutdown Day (mark your calender for next year), I had my own experiment. We rented a cottage up by the Norwegian border with my sister-in-law’s family, and went skiing for a week.
I had asked my wife – who took care of the booking and the communication with her sister – if the cottage had an Internet connection. It looked nice and cozy in the photos that we checked on the Internet, yes, but would I be able to check my email from there, I asked. “I think so,” she said.
So, the rest of the family was sitting in the car, our one-year-old fast asleep, and the four-year-old already the Jabra earphones on, listening to Snow White on my iPod and things seems to be fine. I could tell that from my office window, as I waved to my wife, and showed her two fingers, while mouthing “two minutes, I’m on my way” to her.
Meanwhile, I was frantically googling – excuse me, using the Google search engine – to find information about how to use my Nokia E61 as a modem for my Mac. Twenty minutes later, I had installed the script, grabbed my laptop and peace of mind, and joined the rest of the family in the car.
Nine hours later, we arrived at the cottage. It was nice and cozy, and my sister-in-law and her family had some dinner waiting for us.
I asked about the Internet. No, there’s no Internet. I smiled knowingly. “Yeah, OK, whatever,” I said as casually as I could.
After dinner, I ran to the other cottage to check my email (which I had already checked a few times on the phone on our way up). The connection was slow, but it was there.
Two days into the vacation, I lost my interest in checking my email, and not checking it became the game. On Wednesday, I logged on only twice. On Thursday, just once, and on Friday, I went all the way. No email, no surfing. I didn’t even touch the computer.
And yes, it felt great. I wasn’t as addicted to it as I thought. I could still hold a conversation in real time, in real life, with real people, and I didn’t end all my sentences with a wink.
Try it. Even for just a day.