What I Learned From One Week Without A Computer

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This morning I unearthed my computer from its tomb at the bottom of my closet, and like any loved one that has been ignored for too long, it had some unkind words for me.

I thought it might have appreciated it’s first vacation in five years, maybe even run a bit quicker because of it. It did not.

It creaked open like a calcifying clam shell, and wouldn’t even start the first time I pressed the power button. When I primed it enough to get going, the fan hissed at me like a scorned wife: “How nice of you to come home.”

My week without a computer was a bit more inconvenient than it was life-changing, but as with any challenge, I learned a few things along the way.

I don’t always waste time, but when I do, it happens in front of a computer

I waste little bits of time at regular intervals throughout the day. I stare into the depths of my phone for a few minutes here and there, gaze wistfully at the skyline while at work, and even watch a TV program when time permits. But nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the time I waste in front of a computer.

Whether it’s a Wikipedia K-hole, a mind-numbing flash game, or the endlessly refreshable stats page of this site, there’s always something on the other side of the sinister computer screen to drag me in and hold me hostage for hours on end.

Without a computer handy, I’ve been forced to find other distractions, like talking to a coworker, reading a book, or making myself dinner. Generally speaking, these activities are preferable to the mindless screen-gazing that I cut out this week.

In the age of smartphones, a personal computer is more of a convenience than anything else.

Though I did anticipate this, I was still surprised by how much I could get done on my smartphone that I would otherwise have done on my computer. Personal banking, research, writing, all were easily accomplishable on my phone, though I was forced to adjust my processes a bit to suit a different medium. Sure, I will forever prefer writing long pieces on a keyboard to a tiny phone screen, but it does get the job done in a pinch, if the ideas are pouring out of you with too much vigor to rein in.

This might seem like an obvious or useless realization to some, but for me it offered a bit of comfort. Aside from my car, my computer has long been my most valuable asset. Throughout college I lived with the fear that I would break it and be unable to replace it. If it were possible to take out a life-insurance policy on your computer, I might have. Now, I know that in the worst case scenario, I can survive passably without a computer. It’s a first-world problem for sure, but it still feels good.

Additionally, I found that when I take care of a task on my phone, I’m way more likely to put it back in my pocket afterwards. On the computer, one touch is never enough.

Sitting here on my computer again for the first time in a week, I’m shocked to find that I don’t really have anything to do on it. I checked my email, paid a few bills, and wrote this post, but now what? What was I doing when I would sit on my computer at a coffee shop for three hours? Maybe some things are better left uncovered.

For now, I’m going to close it back up, and get the heck out of my house for a bit. The first cool breeze in months is rustling the leaves outside my window, and my eyes are already tired from staring at the screen.

may we all get better together.