Addiction is a terrible thing. If Seth Fischer's description of the tortures of the damned doesn't strike a nerve, you probably don't use the internet much.
A couple weeks back, I was in a bad way. I’d recently joined Twitter, was always on Fa cebook, and checked my email (and I don’t exaggerate) about 75 times a day. I couldn’t stand it, but I also couldn’t stop. I spent more than half my waking hours on a screen.Fischer sought out an alternative and found it in Borderlands Cafe, which is wireless-free by design and affiliated with Borderlands Bookstore in San Francisco. Fischer finds salvation at last.
It’s not heroin. I should have been able to stop myself. But I couldn’t. Really. I wasn’t getting any writing done. I was ignoring my girlfriend and my friends. I was reading George Packer’s musings on how all this technology needs to stop and tearing up. I read this article about heavy web users being depressed. I agreed. I checked my email again.
Not only do they not have wireless, but they don’t have music, and everything is remarkably well lit.Fischer's post in The Rumpus about owner Allan Beatts explains his policy and its reception by customers. (Via @maudnewton.)
By the time I left the coffee shop, I’d cleared my head and written 3,000 words. With the Internet and music to distract me, it would take me a month to write that much, and I would have ended the day more panicked then when I started. I also couldn’t help but notice how many people were buying magazines and coffee. Even more striking was how many people thanked the barista for the store’s policies.
I had a similar experience myself recently when our DSL modem burned out and I spent a few hours waiting for the replacement to be installed (we upgraded to AT&T's U-Verse and got a new router gateway). At first I was in a panic. Withdrawal set in as I couldn't access my usual sources of information. I couldn't connect with Blogger or Flickr to post. And at first I couldn't even write, because I've become so accustomed to using Google Docs online. Then I remembered -- oh, this computer comes with something called a word processor. Got more done in those few hours than I usually do in days.
Now I'm looking for a public place to (occasionally) reproduce this experience. Any suggestions?