Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Little Off the Grid

For the past few days, my Internet connection has been partially down. I think. I don't know what's actually going on, as I have zero techno-knowledge, but some sites look and connect up normally, while others don't. There's no discernible pattern. It's annoying, disconcerting, and a little scary (since I do a portion of my budget management online). It's also the tiniest bit liberating.

I often joke about living "off the grid." It's my go-to response when Rob shares a dismal news story he heard on his drive home. "That's it," I declare, throwing up my hands. "I'm selling everything I own and moving to a hippie commune!"

It's really a half-joke. With disrupted sleep and a hijacked body making me more irritable than usual, I long more than ever to escape. Relocating somewhere remote where I can learn to grow vegetables and just be away seems like a good start. Away from giant stores with their stifling air and petroleum-based everything. From the motorcycle enthusiasts who explode through our quiet neighborhood at 9:00 PM. From instant access to words and images I didn't want or need to see on my way to check my junk-filled e-mail.

The thing is, that instant access to the online world has been my substitute escape plan for months. Of course I can't actually go anywhere—even an overnight stay at a local hotel seems far beyond my reach right now—but I can distract myself by checking on such-and-such a Web site for the fifth time in two hours. It's straightforward, and pretty pathetic: I don't want to be inside my own life right now. I wonder what Flickr is doing? (This is probably when a better-functioning person would call a friend.)

Now, that kind of avoidance behavior isn't an option. Yesterday afternoon, during my prime idle-on-the-Internet time, I made gluten-free deep-dish pizza for dinner, and then—since I was already in the kitchen with the flours out—gluten-free bread so Westley could have toast in the morning. I scrubbed the bathroom, started some laundry...

It wasn't the escape I craved. Not by a long shot. I still felt antsy and irritable when I was finished. But I also felt good about myself for taking care of some things that needed to be done, rather than pretending to have important business to attend to online. And I was embarrassed by how small and isolated by life has become, and how I think I can fool myself into believing it's bigger by always logging in, clicking through, shutting (myself) down.

I don't need to sell anything or move anywhere to be away. I've already been partially gone.



Amber @ Backwards Life said...

I've been feeling a little out of sorts too. I think I was spending WAY too much time on Twitter. I know that's not your escape of choice, but it was getting out of hand for me. It doesn't help that I have a computer in my pocket so to speak. I've been trying to be present and I need to do a better job. I hope you feel a bit more connected to you real life after a forced period of disconnection from us computer people :-)

Sara said...

I think I know how you feel and it's a hard thing for me to find balance with. Getting online is such an easy and accessible escape, yet when I can make myself close up shop and actually face reality and what's happening around me, I find a similar since of pride in tackling projects or doing things that make me feel good about myself. Baking, crafting, cooking, reading, cleaning...just anything that is actually making something happening rather than me sitting idly by. Right now I am trying to find a balance and the motivation to create a better life for myself overall, but it can be a very tricky thing even though it is really so simple. hmm.

Allison the Meep said...

Man, I can so relate to this right now. I had been spending way too much time online and checking out because I was feeling very depressed, and it was only making things worse for me. So I stepped away from Twitter entirely, and decided to spend 30 minutes max on the computer each day. At first, I felt like a crack head and who needed a fix. And now, I feel like I've been a lot more productive and less anxious.

I wonder if there are any studies that have been done about internet use fueling depression in people who struggle with depression. It certainly makes it worse for me.