Hello, my name is May and I’m an internet addict.
It occurred to me today that I don’t actually remember the last time I went 24 hours without being online. I suspect it will have been on a day when I simply wasn’t home for that long. Maybe when I was last on my friend Tom’s canal boat. Actually, I just remembered when it was – it was when I went away for the weekend just before term started. So, at least six weeks ago.
The internet is a wonderful tool. There is very little in my life that I do without the internet being involved in some way. Anything even tangentially connected to money is internet-related: I have a strict weekly budget regulated through my (three) online bank accounts. Most of my social life is either organised or conducted through the internet. Some of my closest friends are people I’ve only met once, or maybe twice, but have been talking to for years. When I’m bored I watch videos online or read blogs. I trawl my way through webcomics and read my news on the BBC website. If I need to find something out, I google it. Email is my preferred method of contact. I talk to my family on Skype. I even plan my shopping lists online, with the aid of the Sainsbury’s delivery service – I don’t get the shopping delivered, but I find out what it will cost before I go to the supermarket.
Basically, the internet is an important part of my life. I think there are three types of people in the world. There are the people who don’t use the internet at all, ever, never have and possibly never will. A huge swathe of the planet’s population still falls into this category, even though apparently internet access is a human right (for the record, I am well aware that “internet as human right” is a massive simplification of what was actually said. I’m a law student, guys, but I’m also a fan of snappy soundbites). Then there are the people who use the internet a fair amount, as a tool for contacting people, looking up directions to places, watching cute videos of cats, and sometimes reading interesting articles.
And then there are people like me. People who fly across the globe to spend the weekend staying in a four-storey mansion in Chicago with a bunch of people from some weird website. People who think there’s nothing even remotely odd about making plans to go and live for two months, or two years, with someone they’ve only met once. People who know where the X ALL THE THINGS meme is from. People who know what a meme is. People who accidentally spend eight hours online without realising it, and only find out because their browser has an add-on to cut internet access in just such an eventuality.
I blame my parents, frankly. Or rather my dad, because he is the sort of man who can program a computer to say “It is very dangerous to turn off your computer” when it has safely shut itself down, and who makes a website for his three-year-old daughter. Thanks to my childhood, there is very little in life that I can’t solve with a laptop and an ethernet cable. I’m always staggered when people say “but I don’t know where the police station/chemist/pet store/gigantic metal chicken shop is“, as though that is a reason not to report the money they found in the street/not buy sun cream/feed their pet cat toast for a week/save their money instead of spending it on a gigantic metal chicken. It took me several years to realise that actually it’s quite unusual to spend quite so much time online as I do, and not necessarily hugely healthy.
Certainly I don’t think the internet is killing me. I exercise, I eat healthily, I socialise with people I can actually see, I leave my room daily and I do plenty of things away from my computer. But I seem to have lost my will-power. I definitely remember deciding not to go online at all yesterday. That is definitely a decision I made, but it’s not a decision I stuck to.
So. My resolution: I am not going to touch my laptop from now until 8am on Monday morning. I have absolutely no need to use it: I have printed out all the past papers I need for revision, I doubt I’ll get any important emails over the weekend, and facebook will not actually die without me. I am keeping an online log of what I eat, partly for dietary purposes and partly to try and figure out which food it is that is trying to make my stomach digest itself, but I can do that the old fashioned way for one day.
Please, if you see me online at any point in the next forty hours, please shout at me. Down the phone, that is. Not by email or anything. That’s the point. And wish me luck. Gulp.