Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My boyfriend reacts

I told my boyfriend about this idea, and he had mixed reactions. Not sure which approach is most comforting:

1. Skepticism

"You'll never do it. You wouldn't last a week. A day."

2. Enthusiasm

"You realize that no internet means no email. No Hulu. No checking blog stats. You're going to go through some crazy withdrawal symptoms. This is going to be fantastic!"

3. Pragmatism

"Would you find a job that doesn't need internet access, or how would you make a living?"

"I would probably try to sell my dispatches as regular feature to a website or magazine. I wonder if Slate or Wired would go for it."

"Definitely! And for all your other communications--"

"I'd get a P.O. box. And probably send out a lot of emails first, to set things up for the next year. Let people know, schedule things in advance, automate. And write a lot of letters."

"That's what people used to do."


4. Gleeful Sadism

"You realize that if you actually decide to do this, you can't cheat."


"No using your smartphone or borrowing someone's computer."


"You'd have to give up having a cell phone."

"What? No I wouldn't. I'd just find a phone with no internet." (Funny how he slipped that in, don't you think? What did he think he'd get, 2 for 1?)

"Or I could disable the internet on your phone."

"That works too."

"And no peeking over my shoulder when I'm looking at your favorite sites."

"Come on. I can totally peek."

"No you can't."

"Yes I can. That's like telling someone who's quitting smoking not to inhale second hand smoke. That is totally legit."


"Oh my god. I can't tell if you want me to do this project so I actually quit the internet and become a better person and we spent more time together, or because you want to see me suffer."

Cryptic smile.

5. Ironically pointing out the irony.

"You can become homeless for a year."

"Why, you want to kick me out now?"

"No. It's another 'project.' It would be easier for you than quitting the internet."

"I see."

"Think about it. You go online to research how to go offline. Do you see the irony?"

6. Panic

"Wait. You can't expect me to read all your incoming emails. And I can't, like, read you all the NY Times headlines every hour and then let you pick articles for me to read out loud. I have to go to work. I have to do laundry. I have to see people. I need to sleeeeep!"

7. Protective Pity

"You won't be able to do this. You won't last." This isn't harsh or taunting. It is uttered with the compassionate resignation of a doctor giving the prognosis for a terminal condition, knowing his patient won't believe it. The doctor knows, and he's sorry to know. Wishes it weren't so. For the patient's sake, and for his as the one who'll be there, watching.

8. Mortal Fear

As he holds my hands in his: "If you do this, suddenly that means you will be a lot more focused on me."

"Yeah. It's a good thing we have the internet in our lives now."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying I wonder if we'd survive if one of us couldn't check email or read the news? Would we drive one another crazy? Like, if I can't go online, then you realize I'll come up to you, ask for your attention, ask you to go on a walk with me, ask you to check my blog stats for me, because it might have changed in the past 20 seconds since the last time I asked you to check. This year would be really hard on you."

His eyes widen, his cheeks flush. He drops my hands, crawls under our dining room table and adopts a fetal position.

He's right to be scared.

He's seen me struggle to spend 10 minutes away from my smartphone. He's gotten my frantic international calls when he's at a work conference. "Help!! I can't connect!! How do I reset the connection? Connect me please!" And he's seen me fall asleep on more nights than I care to admit, the open laptop on my tummy, mouse arrow still resting on the New Yorker story I was about to click on before I zoned out...

Also, I should point out that despite his hesitations here, my boyfriend has supported and encouraged many of my previous wacky endeavors, including a blog about something totally inconvenient, random last minute trips to places like Greece and Vegas, and more. Just so you don't get the wrong idea about him.

I just think he's a little... apprehensive.

Hell, freaked out. And I totally see his point. The idea of no internet for a year scares me shitless. And if there's anyone who doubts, who sees the irony of blogging about not blogging, if if there's anyone who thinks I can't stay away from this keyboard, from this happy little screen, for more than a week -- and that's already pushing it -- it is me.

Which is why even claiming this blog name, even writing these first posts, is absurd. Because there's no way I can do it.

Give up the internet for a year?

Could I? Should I? Why the HELL would I???

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