A Year Without Internet - Is it Possible?

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I have been a bit MIA lately from this space of mine.  When I look at my word of the year – margin – I can see why.  I have been taking the time I need to recover from what seems like a constant state of overwhelming crazy.  When I think about margin, I often think about books, and how I want to read more of them.  Then a couple weeks ago I heard about a new book that I wanted to read – What Falls from the Sky.

The premise of this book is that a woman decided that she was too fully entwined with the digital world, and decided that she would instead take a year off the internet – yes, an entire year, no internet (in fact she didn’t even use a debit/credit card during this time).

A Year Without the Internet - Is that Even Possible?

This isn’t the first time I have read something with regards to breaking away from technology.  Several years ago I read another great memoir called The Winter of Our Disconnect – about a family in Australia who turned off their screens for six months.  And there was this article about a man who decided to take a year off the internet and his follow up article after his year was finished.  

It seems to be something I read about a lot. Why is that?

It certainly interests me to no end.  I dream of a simple life, and realize that as we become more engaged with technology, simple isn’t always possible.  Or at least the way I have defined simple in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, I love the ease of finding information, the ability to look up things on my iPhone whenever I want, the ability to always have hundreds of books with me, right on my kindle.  The pictures, I love to take and look at all the pictures on Instagram, it makes me happy!

But, it also can be detrimental, especially to someone who wants to learn all.the.things.

This past fall and winter I seemed to be completely overwhelmed and I couldn’t quite figure out why.  We were not doing anything really different in our lives, my kids were in basketball, we had church, we had homeschool, we had a toddler (it could have been the toddler), but I didn’t see anything specific as to why everything felt so out of control.

Lately, I haven’t been watching the news. 

That probably does not sound like a huge revelation to anyone, but to me, an information and news junkie, it was kind of a big deal.  I love all the news.  I’m not particular.  I like to listen to all sides, give me all the liberal media, give me all the conservative media, and I will listen to everything and then figure out what I feel about a subject. 

Last fall the news was insane, the buildup to the election, the entire process of the primaries, it was all consuming, and it was negative, and it spiraled out of control (in my opinion).  I thought that once the election was over things would improve, it did not. 

The negativity that is in the media, in politics, in social media, is overwhelming.

I think the problem was less about my schedule, and more about the information overload of negativity.  It wore me down.

Where does that leave us here at Townsend House?

Well, I have been posting a whole heck of a lot less, you may have noticed, or perhaps not, maybe you have information overload as well.

I became so accustomed to going through the motions here, that I wasn’t happy with what I was writing, it wasn’t fulfilling me in the way that writing typically does, so I stepped back.  I took a couple (or more than a couple) deep breaths and I started to think about what I wanted to change.

I have been listening to this little voice in my head telling me to simplify for years now, but it is starting to get louder, and bigger, and reminding me of my reasons for starting a blog to begin with.

It is amazing what a little perspective can do for a person. 

Once I stopped consuming so much negativity *out there* I was able to start concentrating on the important smallness of my life, and my family, that I crave so dearly.

It could also be this very long winter.

The calendar says it is spring, but living in Maine I know that we are still a few weeks away from consistently warmer weather.  I’m ready to be outside in the sun, working in the garden, and I am looking forward to sharing my smallness, and slowing down with you all.

I have known for a long time that I prefer to be off the beaten path, but it is so easy to follow the crowds to the paved roads where I can be swept up with everyone else, still enjoying life, maybe moving in a direction I don’t necessarily agree with, but perhaps easier.

I plan to be back in this space more consistently, but it might not be as often (3-4 posts per week) as it has been in years past.  My writing may continue to be more introspective, but it is exciting, to be able to share these challenges and changes with you all.

While I hope that I am able to help others through my writing, I also largely use my writing as a way to process my own feelings, and I am glad that a few of you are still around to follow along.

Now a short book review on What Falls from the Sky.

The author, Esther Emery, is the daughter of the famed Carla Emery who wrote The Encyclopedia of Country Living  – which is an amazing resource if you are trying your hand at any sort of self-sufficiency.  The author ran from that way of life, as far as she could, fully immersing herself in what seemed to be everything as far away from homesteading as you possibly could go.  But then, with two small children, living in Boston, she decided to take a year off the internet.

It became a complete time of healing, for her marriage, for her spiritually.  It gave her a time of silence, to really be still, to evaluate what was important in her life, what she was willing to give up, and what she wants to continue to have.

I think that time of fasting is amazing.  The book was a wonderful read.  There was so much emotion poured out on those pages, and the trials that she had to go through during that year, and right before the year started, were many.

I definitely recommend it.  I learned a lot.  I don’t necessarily have to swear off the internet for a year, but I am able to do some soul searching for how much time I spend immersed in a digital world and how I spend that time when I am there.

A truly interesting read.

Have you ever considered a challenge like this?  Does it sound completely unrealistic in this day and age?


  1. I've cut the cable but the internet is too important for my work. I might consider being internet free after my work time!

    1. Yes, I agree, internet is very important for work! And since blogging is so intertwined with every aspect of life and what is going on in social media, I think it would be difficult to say "I will only use the internet for work."

  2. I try to do a day or so a week where we unplug, but I don't think we could do it long term. My husband is in IT so he needs to be plugged in tor work, and I am currently working from home and searching for a day job, both of which require internet. I do like the idea of unplugging after a certain time in the afternoon as well.

    1. I definitely love unplugging - we have been trying to keep Sunday as screen/device free since the start of the year, it is sort of working :-) I am trying to shut down my computer when I start preparing for dinner and then not turning it back on the rest of the evening...I am successful until the kids go to bed!

  3. We're working on cutting the cable but I don't think I can do without internet. Maybe if I wasn't in this particular profession but even then, it's a stretch!

  4. We are working on cutting DirectTv, but internet with homeschooling and blogging, which is my job would be impossible. I am however all about unplugging after dinner time. When we are all home (most of the time) and should be spending time together not glued to a screen.

  5. Heather, I really loved this post! I think many of us dream of a slower paced world and technology as much as we all love it - it has us zooming ahead a warped speeds. Like you, i am a news junkie. i try to turn away, but then I feel the need to know what is going on in our world and like you I want to hear all the sides. At times (many times) the news is heartbreaking, and I am left wondering what can I do? I feel ya!

    Thanks for the book review - I am going to pick it up!

  6. I can see why watching the news can bring so much negativity. I used to listen to political radio shows in the morning for 2 years and I had to quit. It made me think that the world was going to crap and it really brought me down.

  7. When we were trying to conceive my son, I took time off from the internet and my blog. It helps me relax more and I was focused on quality time with my Husband. It makes a difference!

  8. oh my gosh! I read about a family that did this awhile ago. I know that it will only have positive outcome for anyone involved.

  9. Here's what I do that is kinda like this major "no-internet for a year" thing. While on vacation, my husband and I never turn on the TV. And that might sound like, "so what" - but it is our way to disconnect and we LOVE it. But just for that short time! :)

  10. I wish I could step away from technology for some time, but it isn't really realistic. I work from home and in advertising so I need the net to do research and connect with clients. I do miss the days when I wasn't so attached to every device.

  11. I could never do without the internet! I agree that there have been some times this year when stepping away from social media has been the best thing to do at the time, but I really rely on using websites to build my blog.

  12. me and my family of 6 went with out internet for 2 years. we were living off grid and it was great!

  13. I admit I can't live without the Internet for very long but I agree with a good cleanse. It's healthy to take breaks from technology.

  14. I have never considered a challenge like this as I personally see no value to it for me personally. I'm quite happy with our technology advances and it would feel like going backwards to take that away from myself. With that said though, I'm sure we can all cut back on the the time we spend online.

  15. As a blogger my view of the Internet has changed. Instagram and Pinterest have gone from play to work. I spend hours online to research, write, and promote my blog and social media accounts. I couldn't go without it completely but I have seen how it has taken over my life. I make sure to block time out where I am computer/iPhone free. As for the news and current events, I used to read the new all the time. Since the election I have really cut down. I want to be informed but I can't allow myself to be sucked in by such negativity. I allow myself to look at the news on my phone once per day. It has really helped.

  16. I'm totally intrigued by this idea. We went 50 days without internet when we moved last Fall and it nearly killed me. Haha! Only because it made blogging so much harder and I do enjoy that. But I love the concept and I think it's so important to not let all of it take over our lives. I too sometimes unplug from the news and I definitely go on breaks from Facebook.

  17. I find I am much more centered and present in my life and my relationships when I limit my 'screen time'. I think it is easier for me to limit myself since I am in introvert by nature, and need a lot of quiet time to process and contemplate. Trying to keep up with so much information leaves me feeling frazzled, distracted, and overwhelmed. I suppose there will always be a need to find the best balance. Perhaps it's easier for me since I grew up without all this 'connectedness'.


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