Internet should not replace real life

Mai Hoang

After I moved to my new apartment this weekend, I decided to cancel the broadband Internet connection I had.

Yes, to some of you, it’s a crazy idea. I know that you probably think that I will be suffering from withdrawal. And truthfully, I probably will go through withdrawal. Even though I’ve only had the Internet for a small portion of my 21 years, I can’t even imagine what I did without it.

Instead of waiting days for letters to arrive in my mailbox, I can get e-mail in seconds. I don’t have to search to find information about my favorite bands; I can just go on their Web sites. By “Googling” I can find information about every topic imaginable.

But though the Internet provides a lot of information quickly, it is also the most useless thing I do each day.

When I wake up, the first thing I do is crawl half-asleep to my computer. What starts as a quick moment for me to check e-mail turns into hours of checking e-mail obsessively, reading the latest album reviews on Pitchfork, reading six newspapers, talking to people on Instant Messenger and reading Internet weblogs (journals).

Sometimes, I will have no purpose to go on the Internet, but I’ll just log on out of habit. I’ll check e-mail because I can. I’ll do this repeatedly until I realize that I have been at the computer for several hours and have left no time to do anything else.

I stare in these computers feeling that I should be getting something out of it, but sometimes all I’ve done is waste time. Hours of my short life are gone. Hours that could have been used to call someone and tell them I care. Hours I could have used to write the perfect letter. Hours I could spend reading the great authors like Faulkner, Hemingway and Shakespeare.

But the time has passed and the cycle starts over again. The Internet becomes addictive. It has gotten to the point where I wonder what to do when the Internet connection is not up.

Although it seems that we’re more connected in the virtual life, we just need to live the life that is outside our desktops. We need to experience nature for ourselves, instead of seeing it on streaming video. We need to take our ink pen and stain the paper with works by the stroke of our hands. Instead of reading what other people are thinking, we should be willing to reflect on what we’re thinking ourselves.

The Internet is only one part of our lives. It does not need to consume our lives. Technology is a great thing but sometimes the old ways work the best. Although e-mail is easier and faster, sometimes a handwritten letter is better. I can communicate with people on Instant Messenger, but sometimes it’s better to visit each other, just like we used to.

So that’s why I’m trying to live a less Internet-filled life. Maybe you don’t agree. But try unplugging the Ethernet cable once in a while. Perhaps then, you can understand how generations before us managed to live fulfilled lives without having a modem.

Mai Hoang is a senior print journalism and religious studies major from Louisville.

This commentary does not reflect the views of the Herald, Western or its administration.