On 25 March I wrote regarding my intention not to use the internet, in a personal capacity, from 26 March-31 March, (see http://kevin-morris.co.uk/2012/03/25/internet-adiction-myth-or-reality/). I explained that I would not access the web using my personal computers, my mobile, my I-Pad and my I-pod but that I would still need to utilise the internet during the course of my employment. The below is a short report detailing my five days without access to the World Wide Web.
First a brief word concerning my use of the internet. As a blind internet user I use screen reading software (Jaws which converts text into speech and braille enabling me to access the World Wide Web). Being unable to read print in any form I frequently brows newspaper and other news sites to ascertain what is happening in the world.
I use the web to carry out research, for example by looking up subjects which interest me online. Unlike a sighted person who can take down a reference book from their shelves or visit a library, I do not have this luxury and, as a consequence tend to use the web a great deal for looking up information.
As with so many people in today’s society I use email on a daily basis. When making arrangements to meet up with friends my first inclination is to email them rather than make a telephone call. Indeed well over 90 per cent of my social life is organised via email!
OK lets cut to the chase, how did I do during my five days without accessing the web?
1. Use of email – prior to my self enforced prohibition coming into effect I emailed a friend, suggesting a drink. The email was sent from my personal account but copied to my work address and my friend responded copying in my work address. We then proceeded to confirm the arrangements for meeting up via email but with me using my work account. Was this cheating? Perhaps a little as I state in my post of 25 March that I won’t use the internet for personal purposes and I did, in fact use the web (albeit my work address) to confirm social arrangements, however during the five days in question I did not access any of my personal email accounts and my use of personal email shrank dramatically. In retrospect I could have called or texted my friend, however email is such a convenient means of communication that I fell back on it’s use.
2. Current affairs and entertainment – As stated above, I can not read print and can’t purchase a newspaper (well I could but this would be a pointless exercise unless someone read it to me)! During my five days without the internet I listened to the news on BBC Radio 4. I’ve always found the BBC’s coverage of current affairs to be excellent and I did not miss accessing news sites half as much as I had expected, however had my self enforced prohibition continued into the weekend I would have missed being able to sit down with a cup of coffee and brows the newspapers online. As for entertainment I read a good deal over the past five days (actual braille books rather than ebooks and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of holding a physical book rather than reading, or listening to an ebook or audio title). It was great to sit outside, in the spring sunshine with a book on my knees reading poetry an experience which I can wholeheartedly recommend.
I took Thursday as annual leave. Having no work to distract my mind I missed being able to go online, however I kept myself occupied by sorting out my book shelves, going for walks and reading and passed a pleasant day in that way.
So at the end of my five days without the internet how do I feel?
Being without the web was a healthy experience. I was able to rest while on my way to and from work rather than browsing the internet on my mobile. Given my use of a computer for a large part of my working day it was a refreshing experience to not be exposed to the internet at home or on my way to and from the office. I can thoroughly recommend the experience. My friend, Brian said that it would be interesting to try a long weekend without access to either the internet or my mobile phone. I agree with him and will try that experiment although not this particular weekend!
Am I addicted to the internet? In my opinion no, althoughI did miss certain aspects of the net and, in particular being able to check my email. I’d be interested to hear other people’s experiences of going without the internet for a prolonged period. Please feel free to comment.