So it’s been (more or less) 2 weeks without the internet on a self-imposed internet fast-of-sorts. It’s been an interesting two weeks!
Firstly, the confession: I did go into facebook a couple of times. Once was to access a couple of messages with changes of addresses which I needed and didn’t have anywhere else. The other times were all Smudgie’s fault. While there I did take a quick peek at status updates, but I didn’t play any scrabble or lexulous, apart from yesterday (my birthday) so think that in general I was still pretty restrained, particularly compared to usual. I did also still go into my emails daily, and also booked a few things (or researched things that need booking) but that was always part of the deal so I didn’t feel guilty about that. I have gone back to the internet a couple of days earlier than I meant to, but I’m an old fart now (after Smudgelet’s comments about my grey hair when I saw him yesterday perhaps I should now refer to myself as a silver surfer!).
Apart from that though I had quite a lot of time, which normally would have been filled with surfing the handful of sites I visit daily over and over again, when I had to find other things to fill the time. So what have I done?
I’ve read. Admittedly not the book for next week’s book group, but nonetheless it was really nice to have the time and space to read for leisure (I’ll put the review in a separate post when I’ve finished the book – might have to put it to one side so I can at least start the book group book before next week). I’ve also read some thesis-related articles and bits of books.
I’ve watched. We had Cal stay with us for a couple of nights en route to Iona (how jealous am I?!) and she introduced us to a programme which has been running for a few weeks now but which had totally passed us by as we never watch TV (apart from Dr Who on iPlayer). And what a delight it was. Monty Halls’ Great Hebridean Escape is the story of Monty Halls, a marine biologist who spent 6 months living on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides as a volunteer nature ranger for all of the islands of the southern Outer Hebrides. It has been remarked that quite a lot of the laydeez viewing think he’s cute. Personally I really really want his dog!
We also watched the last programme on this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. When we lived with HD’s parents down south a couple of years ago we watched it a lot (they were much more into TV than we are, and well you have to be sociable, isn’t that right?) – I’d forgotten how much I like looking at beautiful things. And was reminded (I certainly haven’t forgotten) how much I want a garden of my own in which to be creative.
Having Cal to stay was fab. We were both working so she had to occupy herself in the daytime, but it was lovely to have a couple of evenings to chat and catch up. Having her here also got me thinking about home and hospitality – one of the things we bought with some of the money we were given when we got married was a visitors’ book which we get people to sign if they stay or come for a meal or whatever, and to be honest for 2½ years of marriage it’s looking a bit bare, we obviously haven’t been very sociable! We’ve not held a party here and very rarely have people round for a meal, and I was reflecting on how I feel that’s quite difficult here. Partly because it’s not an enormous flat, and there isn’t a great deal of physical space for people, but also because for pretty much all the time we’ve been married we’ve been a bit up in the air with regards to knowing how long we’ll stay here due to our respective job situations, and have also been apart for quite a lot of it with HD working away, so it still, even after me being here 4½ years and HD more than 2 years, feels like something temporary. So although the Stately Pile is definitely home, and it will break my heart to leave my lovely little flat, because of the transient nature of our jobs (mine because I don’t feel much of a sense of commitment to it and his because his contracts are only a few months at a time) it’s hard to feel 100% *at home*.
I took pictures. We went for a walk round the local park, and wandered round a corner of the park with which we’re less familiar, and I took photos. I’m really going to have to figure out how to use my camera properly (I haven’t a clue about aperture, f-stops and all that sort of thing) as although the autofocus is great, at the moment I’m using it like a posh point-n-shoot rather than using it to its full potential. Sometimes the autofocus produced good results, other times it didn’t quite focus on the bit I thought it was so the pictures didn’t quite work. Anyway here are a couple of pictures from then which I liked.
I worked on my thesis. [readers faint] Which was the main point of the no-internet exercise. I finished a megachapter which is the combination of two previous shorter chapters and which is probably going to need a few thousand words chopping from it. I’ve asked my supervisors to start with a few suggestions of where to start with that, as I’m still too close to it to be able to think rationally about what to keep and what to chop, and in the meantime I have started the reading for the next chapter, which is the one which requires a bit more of a rewrite than the others so I’ve been putting it off for some time. It’s certainly been useful and shown me that I *can* work in the evenings if I really have to. But it’s also shown me that if I do a lot of work in the evenings more than a couple of times a week I am so shattered I’m no good to anyone, which I think is also a useful thing to learn in that I am less likely to beat myself up if I don’t work on the thesis every single waking minute.
I wrote a letter. A real proper letter with handwriting and everything! Admittedly it was with a birthday card and present which was a couple of weeks late, but I did feel good afterwards. When I was an undergraduate when I first left school I was a prolific letter-writer, but as my time is now so full of other stuff letter-writing has really fallen by the wayside. It was nice to write again, though I don’t think I’m up to the epic multi-page letters I used to write. This was 2 sides of A4 though, so still fairly respectable!
I got a year older. It was my birthday yesterday, and happily I was able to meet up with Smudgie and the Smudgelet in the evening for a meal, although as HD had to work Smudgie is still to meet him and is still not 100% that he’s not just my imaginary friend. At work I had already eaten my own body weight in chocolate cake, so an enormous meal with an enormous pudding (not to mention a couple of not exactly small G&Ts) was of course entirely appropriate. It was very good. On the way back to the station Smudgelet (who is a bit on the skinny side) said “Oh, I feel so fat”, to which the only response of course was “Welcome to my world”.
I learnt. Although it’s been good to not be constantly surfing the same old stuff and complaining to HD that I’m bored with the internet as I’ve read everything already (!), I learnt again how important the internet is for me to feel connected. With friends and family all over the place (world as well as country) for many people the only way I stay in touch is online through sites like facebook and the Ship and here at the wibsite. It was good to have a break from surfing for the sake of it, but the not knowing what is happening in peoples’ lives, their joys and sorrows, left me feeling if not bereft then certainly a bit out of touch and disconnected. And thankful for the opportunity to connect through this amazing technology, even if it is sometimes a 2-edged sword.
As well as the serious points, I missed out on the silly too. For example, Eurovision. I love the annual cheese-fest, and always text a friend from London with my observations (I used to go to his place for Eurovision parties when I lived down there), but this year I was looking forward to seeing Eurovision as commented on on twitter as well as on the TV (having enjoyed the twitter coverage of the three election leadership debates recently). I was restrained and didn’t go online, and stuck to just the texting as usual, but did feel like I missed out. Next year I’ll be armed with phone *and* laptop as well as the telly 🙂
[Eurovision did produce a memorable exchange with HD which is still making me laugh whenever I think of it so I shall preserve it here for posterity (sorry darling!). We were watching the Romanian entry and remarking on the rather tight-fitting latex catsuit being sported by the female singer:
Me: I’d better not wear one of them, I really would look like the only gay in the village.
HD: More like an aubergine ….[starts digging] I like aubergines …. [more digging] Not in *that* way.]
I’ve decided to modify my internet use now. The (almost) two-week fast was a useful thing to do, but for reasons of connectedness isn’t so practical long-term. But I do acknowledge that I surf pointlessly far too much when I could be doing more useful (and leisurely) things instead. So I have decided that I will have 3 days a week when I don’t go onto the internet other than if I have to for work or booking stuff/etc reasons. One of those days will be my uni day, which is usually a Friday. To start with then I’ll say Tuesday, Friday and Sunday will be internet-free, but reserve the right to change the days if that turns out for some reason to not be practical. I think this will do me a lot of good.
I did miss you all you know 😀