The Day my Modem Died

I didn’t think I was that connected. Frankly, I think of myself as a bit of a Luddite. But with any addict in denial, with anyone who doesn’t think they’re that dependent, take that certain something away and see how they react.

I’m not a technology addict. However, I did discover just how often I felt obligated to check my email, to run to Google every time I was curious. The death of my modem one weekend showed me just how much I’d configured my life around external cues I’d allowed in via the internet.

Awareness is a lovely thing. What you do with it is really what counts.

For three days I was free of the obligation to check-in. In the 21st century, pandemic business mindset, I was unreachable. And socially, if someone really wanted to reach me, they could text or call.

As a natural-born people-pleaser and empath, this disconnection from the outside world was incredibly freeing. It allowed time for me. It showed me all the time I was dedicating to checking on the outside world, and ignoring my inside world.

IMG_0977Somewhere around the second ‘no modem’ day, I was suddenly reminded of what my life had been like pre-internet. Just so we’re clear, I’m Gen X, born in the 1970s. I remember party-lines, rotary phones, peasant-vision, and 8-tracks. But I also remember going through the technological quantum leaps: from vinyl records to digital downloads and back again, from laserdiscs and Betamax tapes to VHS and BlueRay DVD, from computers the size of bedrooms to handheld ones that could run entire networks. Living through this much technological change may have something to do with my Ludditism, but that’s a conversation for another time. But I also remember, not too long ago, that my life didn’t involve hanging on every email. If I didn’t know something, either it wasn’t important,Β  I’d ask someone, or I’d satisfy my curiosity with a visit to my local library. I also remembered that my imagination and curiosity was more heightened.

So if there was a time in my life when I wasn’t hanging on every email, or checking Google every second, what the heck had I been doing??

During those three ‘no modem’ days in May, I discovered first-hand what Cal Newport is referring when he says ‘deep work’. My imagination engaged. I was connecting dots in my mind that I didn’t even know existed. Ideas erupted and bloomed. Not only was I free from external distraction, I was free to internally engage. And engage I did.

It was glorious.

This is what I was doing in those ‘pre-connected’ days — I was imagining; I was creating; I was connecting to myself.

David Lynch says that we must allow ourselves the time and space to daydream. As I writer, I know this to be true. However, I didn’t realize how distant from this space I’d become.

It’s only one email.

It’s only five minutes on Google.

It’s only one drink.

This is an addict talking.

It’s the small end of the wedge.

I put off writing this post because I didn’t want to engage with the digital world or my computer screen. Dear Reader, I don’t know when I’ll write again. I hope you shall be here when I return. Or, even better, you’re off somewhere, daydreaming, imagining, and engaging with your own inner world far from your own computer screen.

Further Reading

David Lynch –

Cal Newport – Deep Work and his blog



2 responses to “The Day my Modem Died

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