May 5, 2010

USA: Life Without the Web

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WASHINGTON, DC / Slate Magazine / Life / May 5, 2010

Offline : What happened when I gave up the Internet

By James Sturm


I have been offline for almost four weeks now. I imagined by this time I would have all kinds of dramatic stories about resentful co-workers, domestic tension, and feelings of isolation, but so far the biggest surprise has been how uneventful it is. The benefits have outweighed the hassles.

Though there are hassles. Hassle example No. 1: For my last column, I drew a picture of a Transformer. If I'd still been online, I'd have Googled "Transformer," and within seconds, I'd have had hundreds of robots to use as a reference. Instead, I had to track down an image. I ducked my head into a classroom full of freshman, figuring a CCS student would have a Transformer comic. No dice, but one student suggested going to the school's media room where there was a Transformers DVD. Couldn't find the DVD. I thought about driving 15 minutes to the nearby Wal-Mart for a Transformer coloring book. My cell phone rang, and it was Jen, a CCS senior and librarian. She responded to my complaints by offering to lend me her stack of Transformer comics.

Now when I'm deciding what I will draw, I have to factor in how difficult it will be to find a reference. I considered making an analogy to Ponce de León—going offline is akin to searching for the Fountain of Youth!—but I didn't want to schlep to the library to look up period costumes. (I have a surprisingly limited visual memory for a cartoonist.) So instead, I'll go with Thoreau—I can more easily fake my way through this drawing—and make the point that, in 2010, all it takes to "live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst of an outward civilization" is disabling your modem, far less work than living alone in a cabin for two years. That's progress, isn't it?  [rc]

And there's more....

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