Here’s something I wrote for Yahoo about the pros and cons of limited Internet access. It was one of the first things I ever got paid to write and I immediately spent those $3 on paying for half of a sandwich.
I was the last kid on my street to get Internet access. I know this for a fact because my parents would have us sneak into the neighbor’s homes when they were away on vacation; this breaking and entering counting as my family’s vacation. Every home up and down Overton Road had Internet access. My dad finally began paying for Internet when I was in seventh grade. At first I was hooked, staying online constantly. Then I lived a few places without the Internet. I learned over time there are pros and cons when it comes to having Internet access readily available.
Pro: You have an excuse for not knowing everything in the world
The Internet has every piece of information available on it, the greatest of all being dirt on new people you meet. When you have access people expect you to take advantage of this readily available information. Telling people you don’t have the Internet at home provides the perfect excuse for not knowing big news or who the President of the United States is. It’s like being stuck in the 1920s minus the constant fear of a typhoid breakout.
Con: You have trouble discovering new things
The best way to find new music these days is searching on YouTube. Without the Internet it’s nearly impossible to find new music without a friend suggesting it. If your friends are anything like mine, they will suggest listening to “that new English singer, Sting.”
Pro: You don’t discover those new things
While you can find great new music you are also less likely to stumble across the bad stuff. I have no clue what Justin Bieber’s singing voice sounds like. I had such little Internet access during his rise to fame that he could scream for help from one room over and I would have no clue it was him. Why Justin Bieber is in my apartment screaming for help, that’s a topic for another day.
Con: Less contact with friends/acquaintances
I use social networking sites like Facebook to keep in touch with friends I am not likely to see in person very much. It’s a great way to not disappear off the face of the earth from them. When you can’t get online as frequently these friendships can lose their strength.
Pro: Less contact with friends/acquaintances
Some friends are lousier than others. When a friend you don’t like very much communicates via the Internet more than anywhere else, you have the perfect excuse to skip their birthday party, wedding, and possibly funeral. “Sorry. I haven’t been online” is a legitimate excuse in today’s world to miss out on everything.
Con: Lack of entertainment
A lot of my entertainment comes from the Internet. I stream radio stations, read blogs, and play fantasy baseball. Hey ladies, interested? Going online is a huge distraction that can numb your mind and take you away from the daily grind. Entertainment is highly underrated in our society. Something as simple as a picture of an angry cat gives people hours of enjoyment now. I may not agree with this, but that’s just the way it is.
Pro: Saving money
As is the case with everything in life, Internet access costs money. This was a big reason why I chose not to have it in my home. As a 22-year-old working part-time not making very much money and living alone, I had to pinch pennies wherever I could. There are plenty of free places you can use the Internet. Did you know libraries still exist? They have Internet access too. There are also coffee houses, restaurants, and a few other places that will let you steal their Internet. My personal favorite place is going to a hotel lobby. Not only do you get high-quality Internet access, nobody bugs you. I did this for an entire year whenever I needed to get online. If you decide to do this, make sure you never overstay your welcome. Sometimes I would stay in my car so the same hotel desk clerks wouldn’t see me coming in then leaving after an hour three days a week. After writing this section I now know what my ex-girlfriend meant when she called me cheap.
Con: People will think you are weird
Most people thought I was very strange when I would tell them I didn’t have Internet access. They would say it like the rest of me was so normal. Admittedly I am a bit of a blowhard. I don’t use iPods, I don’t watch current sitcoms, and I think baseball was better in the 1920s. There are still plenty of people in this country that don’t have Internet access in their home. The only reason I broke down and have it now is because the nearest library either never has access or the librarians give me dirty looks. Now with the Internet at home I can embrace the hermit lifestyle. It feels great. I wonder what the weather has been like this summer.