“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like.”
― Lemony Snicket
Fate has a funny, polar opposite way of either bringing you riches or kicking you square in the nuts. This is a challenge that seemed inevitable as of October 26th when fate decided to tackle me to the ground and smash the shit out of my smartphone. Literally. Except by "fate" I mean a 230 lbs. drunk Asian with a propensity to attempt to use his Jujitsu whenever he's consumed one too many Jack and Cokes. So you don't know the relief I felt when Rose Duggan (friend, blogger, and all around badass) suggested an "Off the Grid" Challenge.
BUT IT WAS JUST THE PHONE...
The general premise is to completely go off the grid for 30 days; no phone, internet, or TV. While that seems like a great idea, the last guy to do this went by the name of Ted Kaczynski. And we all know how well that turned out. However, to give up almost all of modern technology and the advantages it brings, sounded like a great idea for a few reasons.
My HTC One has become an extension of my hand, almost as if a beautiful, warm glowing, telecommunicating sixth finger has been added. I don't even open both eyes in the morning before checking my email, scrolling through friends' previous night's Facebook posts, and reading every new tweet from EVERYONE, EVER. And that's all before getting out of bed! To really bring to light my dependency on a smartphone would be interesting to see. I'm old enough to remember the days when all we had were home phones, pay phones, and maybe, MAYBE e-mail if we were lucky. As I said in the official rules, I will be carrying a cell phone for emergency purposes, but heavily relying on my "home phone" (Google Voice) for communicating with the outside world. Yes, I realize the irony of using VoIP when "not being allowed on the internet."
Kate and I cancelled our cable the day after the "Breaking Bad" finale last month. We tried to do accomplish the same task six months prior after deciding Comcast's prices had become rather expensive. I was done, finished, fed up, and over it. Up until that point we had no other alternative for a provider until uVerse came to the area around that time. I straightened my back, adjusted the imaginary tie I wasn't even wearing, grabbed my cell phone and prepared to tell them off in a Gordon Ramsey like style. But, oh no, they weren't going to down go without a fight! I must have done a better impression of Gordon Lightfoot, because I was slowly losing this fight, and in fact, at some point blacked out from confusion and ended up ordering MORE cable. Damn, they're good. For a lower monthly payment, they were willing to offer me the vampiric soft-core pornography channel known as HBO and the way-too-much-schlong channel, Starz. Then to lower my bill even further, they would also graciously bundle in home phone service for us. Yeah, I already had 400 channels, but what's two more channels between friends. With my home phone service I would be able to call people to discuss this week's lineup ... and totally disregard my cell phone for some reason? That part didn't make a lot of sense, but WHO CARES!? More Channels!
Then, with our new-found wealth we were able to also order Netflix! That's like saving an alcoholic $20 on his vodka purchase so he can use that money to purchase a bottle of whiskey. The entertainment overload went from borderline insane to batshit fucking crazy. Sometimes the DVR would fill up to 80% capacity while I was binge watching Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad. If I could have set up a second television in my living room, control each eye independently like a lizard, watch both TVs at the same time and process all the information like Kim Peek, I would have.
I don't want to blame it all on "Sharknado," but the madness had to stop. Even the local channels that we've kept through a rabbit-ear antenna are used only to provide us with background noise while playing Candy Crush.
It goes without saying that the internet has changed the world in ways arguably no other invention ever has and probably ever will. The sheer awesomeness is comprised of porn, hilarious GIFs, adorable cats failing at tasks, memes, fat kids wielding "lightsabers", and more porn. I'm sure there's other stuff too. Remember the aforementioned morning routine I kept with my smartphone? Well once up and moving, my eyes would shift from the smartphone screen to my dual monitored desktop where I would continue browsing the internet. Visiting Fark.com, Facebook (again), and Buzzfeed became as much of a morning ritual as stretching, scratching, and breaking wind. In most cases the former would come before the latter. After work I would kiss my wife and daughter, pet our dogs, then jump right back on the internet... after spending the whole day at work on the internet.
YOU'RE CRAZY MAN. I LIKE YOU, BUT...
Most have already called me crazy for attempting this challenge. By the end, I'm hoping they're envious of the freedom that I will be providing myself this month. What will I do with my time? I don't know yet, and that's the best feeling so far: a sense of renewal and weight off my shoulders without an electronic leash. But we'll see, it's only Day 1...