Monday, October 25, 2010

Report from the Trenches : The Great Central Jersey Internet Abstinence Challenge

Surfing the World Wide Web - not.
I’m b-a-a-a-c-c-c-k-k-k-k.

I wanted to report back from THE DAY I STAYED OFF THE INTERNET that the sun shone brighter, the birds chirped louder, my food tasted better, Lindsay Lohan disappeared forever and that, having stepped off the Information Superhighway, I found God.

But instead, I found a dead mouse at the bottom of the stairs, a pile of cat-hairball-mess on the kitchen floor and a missing earring I had been looking for for just about forever. I’m kind of angry about the mouse, because it’s the second deceased one we’ve found in the “living quarters” (as opposed to the basement) in two days and I don’t like the pattern I see emerging.

But, as my sister would say, “it’s good to have cats.”

So, I know you’re just about bursting with questions about my day free from the clutches of the Net. Let me try to anticipate some of them right now and save you a few keystrokes:

Did you really stay off the Internet for a whole day?

Yes…and no. The fine print (which I wrote myself) gave me the option of checking email (which I did) and accessing sites that I needed for schoolwork, which I also did (in a limited manner, because I don’t much like doing homework).

By the way, “fine print” is a very important concept in life... and in marriage. Whenever I object to doing something that my DH suggests and that I don't want to do, he reminds me to check the “fine print” in our ketubah (Jewish marriage contract). It’s a very convenient “out” for him, because the ketubah is written in Hebrew and I can’t get past the “Blessed art thou” part.

What was it like?

What was it like? Well, the earth moved, my entire world rocked….

Oh, that's probably not what you were referring to.

It was pretty much like a normal day, except that I smoked two packs of cigarettes, drank my way through  Thing 2’s DH’s secret liquor stash and plucked out my eyebrows one hair at a time.

That sounds pretty much like a normal day for you under any circumstances, doesn’t it?

No.  I NEVER drink and pluck on the same day.

What did you miss the most about surfing the Net?

Nothing. Okay, let me be a little more specific: Everything. To me, screensucking (Screensucking -- snarky definition) is hugely more amusing than cleaning, filling out insurance claim forms or the other household chores that I am tasked with to prove that I am a CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF THIS HOUSEHOLD and not just a burden on society and an embarrassment to the noble Oliver-Emmer name. (Note bene:  for 22 years I was simply Joan Emmer, but when I took on my "breakout" role in the blogosphere, I reverted to Joan Oliver Emmer, much like Hilary became Rodham Clinton as soon as she moved to Chappequa and started to wear pant suits).

Did you encounter any particular problems?

Yes! I decided to bake a challah to go along with our Shabbat meal of linguine and shrimp scampi (yes, you read that right), but I couldn't find my challah recipe.  I started to Google "challah," only to remember the special restrictions of the day just in the nick of time.  I  reviewed my limited options: drive to the library to research a "bricks and mortar" challah recipe (ironically, this is how my homemade challot often taste) or forego the challah and say a little HaMotzi over three month old Triskets.  Guess which option I chose?

Would you do it again?

Definitely! A new experience like the one I had is infinitely broadening  and an excellent example for my children, who never "unplug" unless they're in the shower (and then only if we're out of plastic bags.).  I just might designate one or two days a week “Internet free” days and enjoy the solitude when they all flee to Starbucks or the Apple Store for their fix. 

Fine -- more bandwidth for me.


  1. This really made me giggle! Don't think I'll try though. The only time I step away for hours at a time if when we're on trips - which we do a lot so that's good.
    Thanks for the laugh!
    Louise Edington
    International AuPair Finder
    Facing Fears and Frontiers over Fifty

  2. I'm not really sure how I'm going to do it but I am determined. Although I'm not a "faster" like you...I'm more of a "make the plate smaller so it looks like there's more" kind of person. So it will be 3, no more than 5 hours a day.

    Chuckling as I walk to the 'fridge' - your triscuit comment made me hungry...

    Darcie Newton
    Using Real Estate to Fuel Retirement