Seven Days of Tears or The Week Without My Computer

For many, computers make our lives more efficient, but at the same time, less productive by offering us distractions. With her laptop out of commission, Caitlin Boersma goes cold turkey and survives a week without compulsive email-checking.

I am now going strong into the second week without my laptop. Well, “strong” isn’t really the proper adjective; it’s more like dragging myself through the second week without a computer. My computer has been out of commission due to a frayed AC adapter. It’s the second one I’ve had to order through my Best Buy warranty in four weeks. Over the last six months my three-year warranty has paid for itself, but I could really do without the hassle. I wrote the first draft of this article on a notepad for goodness sake!

I used to compose first drafts with a pen and paper, but what’s the point when I could have spell-check, a dictionary, and Facebook all in one convenient machine? Sure, my creativity and concentration flow more smoothly without the bright glow of the monitor in my face, but I’ll take convenience over quality any day.

The internet has proved a distraction for me since I’ve had my laptop, but this year, things have gotten considerably worse. I’ve always been rather obsessive about checking my email and instant messenger, but over the last year, Netflix Instant Watch (now unlimited), my discovery of Feedburner, and my addiction to YouTube have left me thoroughly incapacitated. All that I needed was a page where my Gmail, YouTube, and Google Reader subscriptions would show up in one place, so when I found iGoogle, my life was complete. I now spend more time watching personal vlogs and reading music blogs than I spend on doing homework–or anything else for that matter. In summary, if Google were human, he would be the perfect man and I would be his biggest fangirl.

Now that I’ve just admitted that I would stalk Google incarnate, you understand how hard this week has been for me.

The surprising thing about not having the internet at my fingertips 24-7 is that I’ve tried a lot of new things. Since my main outlet of procrastination has been removed, I’ve begun to do my homework in a timely manner. Most nights would consist of reading five or so pages before my hands would drift to my keypad to run through my routine sites that must be checked in fifteen-minute intervals. I rarely receive an email, instant message, or news update in the time it takes to read a few pages, but I’m still convinced that every time I check something new will have appeared. I do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result each time. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

In addition to completing all of my work, I’ve been sleeping for more than my usually allotted five hours a night. My attitude and demeanor have been more pleasant as a result , except for when I’m complaining about Best Buy and my computer.

Without the use of my computer for entertainment I’ve also gravitated toward the archaic method of entertainment: television. Although I watch nothing on YouTube that’s of better quality than the idiotic sitcoms that run on FOX and The CW, I’ve realized that I don’t have the attention span for longer than three minutes at a time of crap television.

A week without constant use of the internet has resulted in an increased productivity level, improved sleeping habits, and a more positive attitude. While it might be prudent to make these changes permanent, I will not be able to avoid using the internet altogether. I have heard of people who are “social smokers” or “social drinkers,” but in the same way there is no such thing as a “social heroin user,” I will not be able to keep my computer use at a manageable level. After my forced spell of laptop rehabilitation, I’m destined for a relapse once my power cord arrives in the mail.

Caitlin Boersma is studying political science and English, but spends most of her time analyzing pop culture. Her premise for a new reality TV show, Killing Andy Milonakis, has yet to be picked up by VH1. She is notorious for spending a week’s wages on a ticket to see Morrissey live.