Hello, my name is Yvonne, I’m addicted to the Internet. The last thing I’m doing every evening is checking my Emails on my phone. And in the morning, when I open my eyes, it’s the first thing I do. With some friends I’m intravenously connected through the Internet. I’m fine with having no connection when riding the U2 in Berlin between Gleisdreieck and Eberswalderstraße. Or when I’m on a plane. I don’t spend every single minute in the net, but when my router crashes, I feel amputated. And not only because I do need it to earn money. Often it’s just that I don’t want to miss something.
But since a while there are days, sometimes even two in a row, when I take some time “off”, going offline. Because I know it does feel good.
This is due to my trip to Mongolia last year. Three weeks of trekking, sleeping in tents without electricity. Fine, no problem. There’s no Internet? HOW will I survive this? THIS was my major challenge.
Although I don’t look like it I really enjoyed camping.
After 110,5 hours, nearly 5 days I felt the first withdrawal symptoms. Yes, I also thought it wouldn’t take that long. But to be honest, I could have beard it longer. If not, well, we’ve stayed at a Ger Camp for one night. And my fellow travellers told me there’s Internet. I do remember exactly how my heart skipped a beat.
We were having dinner and (I will just call him like this) Horst said: And? Did you go online yet?
Panic. THERE’S INTERNET HERE? Should I? Shouldn’t I? And what if I just write a quick Email to my parents? Have a quick look on Facebook, Twitter, my blog? What if my blog is offline since days? AHHHH. Quickly! Distract me! Tell me something! Anything!
Two hours later I was sitting in my yurt and asking myself, why I didn’t gave in to my addiction. Was I scared that an Email would ruin my day? That the connection would be so bad I couldn’t even check my Emails? Would this have made me even more nervous? All wrong. I mean, yes, ok, this was part of it. But actually, actually, I felt like betraying myself. I wanted adventure, be away from everything. If I connect to the Internet now, I would bring the “other” world to Mongolia. And this would feel weird.
If I do give in now, I’m not better than these German tourists on Majorca, complaining about when there’s no Schnitzel on the menu.
I’ve learnt how to listen to nature’s call in nature. How to put up a tent during a storm (ok, I’ve bribed the drivers with cigarettes) and I’m so proud of my feet, which are carrying me since 5 days through the desert Gobi. I CAN’T give in now.
There will be more days sleeping in tents, without electricity, without a shower. We will eat under the open sky, will warm ourselves with Vodka and every morning we will put on our trekking shoes and start walking. Into the sweep of the horizon.
Where clouds are hanging low because the horizon is so sweep, where cliffs are glowing red and kids have the wise expressions of old people.
A country I haven’t really arrived to yet. I don’t want to go back, not even for a second. Two weeks left.
Three days later I should dream of the Internet for the first time. I was reading an Email of a friend in which he was complaining that I haven’t replied since weeks. Two nights later I’ve met a friend in my dreams but there are no words in my mouth when I wanted to ask her what’s happening in the online world. I can’t even ask her to tweet about how I nearly got killed by wolves (ok, I’m exaggerating a bit).
After two weeks I start thinking about how it will be when we’re back in Ulan Bator and with this, back in the Internet world.
Will I take a shower first or check my Emails before this? Shall I lay down on the bed or sit at the desk?
It feels a bit like when I was a kid, the days before my birthday, when I was thinking about how the cake will taste and which present I will unwrap first.
When we finally got to Ulan Bator, I could feel the “being addicted thing” for the first time to the full extent. We’re at the hotel. I know the WiFi is fast. Nearly as fast as I’m on my room. But my backpack. Where’s my backpack? Beads of sweat on my forehead. Why is the luggage guy taking that long? I want. I open the door and rush out. There it is. My backpack. Without waiting. Without a look around. I grab my bag, go back to my room and close the door.
Alone. I don’t want to be disturbed by someone. No one.
My hands are shaking a bit when I open my computer. What will expect me? What have I missed? I don’t feel good. Do I have a fever? I feel cold and hot.
Here we go. 554 unread Emails. 72 Facebook notifications. Aaaand action: here we go… I’m back in the “real” world. It takes about an hour before I start to feel better. The world didn’t collapse. It was just me being offline. And didn’t it feel good?
Since then I do it more and more often. Not for weeks, but for some hours, days. And it always feels pretty good.
What do you think? Could you survive three weeks without Internet?
i tried it and am not sure if i can do it again.
felt so lost but deep down in my heart i know i liked the quiet feeling of being disconnected.
The difficult thing is being disconnected when you know Internet is available, when there’s no Internet around you just have to accept it and feel good 😀
Yes I can ! When I would be in Mogolia or somewhere else for tracking then I would enjoy the lansdscape. If I am somewhere where I have internet access I use it, but if I am somewhere where I have no access, then it ist also ok. Several years I did not have any “IT equipment” with me on my travel.
Yes, travelling has changed. Three years ago when I was travelling Southeast Asia I just checked my Emails every now and then, last year I bought a sim card in every new country to stay connected.
Yvonne, of course you can go without the Internet. The first week, however, is going to be “interesting”!
Addiction can be a terrible thing … but I know I can’t go long without the sight of a clear night-time sky which always puts me at ease. Seeing Orion at this time of year in either the northern or (upside-down) southern hemisphere lets me know I’m where I need to be. 🙂
Yes, and I need a sunset every now and then to make me happy 😀
I would like to believe I could survive 3 weeks without the internet as long as I knew well ahead of time (to alert all clients, schedule posts ahead of time, etc). I would, of course, also need an incredible distraction, such as your awesome trip. I would struggle like you did, but I believe I could do it and would ultimately enjoy it.
That’s exactly what I’ve did. Everyone knew I won’t be online during this trip. And yes, as I never got bored I never needed any disctraction 😀
When we were in Mongolia we lasted 3 weeks without internet and it felt liberating! It felt just to “be” for a while. As you know we work online too but now we make sure we unplug for a day or two a week and just sit and watch the world (real) go by!
In Mongolia we met this young American girl who was with the Peace Corps and she was volunteering in the middle of NOWHERE!!! For 2 years. There was no internet, no shops, no nothing. Just a small village. We met her at the petrol station which kind of says how bored she was! I often think of her now. Did she last the 2 years. What did she do when it was minus 20 Celsius?
Take care and great post!
Wow, not sure if I could two years in the middle of nowhere! Would be really interesting to hear her story!
Thanks for sharing this with us Paul!
haha… I think she probably was in someone’s yurt during minus 35 Celsius. As i know most of the Peace Corps volunteers they love here. some of them stays here and lives here, until now.
It’s so refreshing to hear a fellow addict reveal the nature of their addiction. My name is Charli and I’m a netaholic also. It’s great to disconnect every once in a while I think it helps us to take stock of the other elements in our lives.
I hope you find something to ease your cravings. I find chocolate helps. I can’t simultaneously blog, tweet, facebook and eat chocolate.
haha. love the chocolate solution! <3
Sometimes there are places I don’t expect internet and things get disenchanted by having it – as it was in the middle of the Amazonas Jungle.
That’s true too.