Journalist and NYU Prof Katie Roiphe wanted to quit the Internet to help herself focus on writing her next book. But less than two days into the experiment Roiphe has to admit, “I am actually like an addict sneaking off to the roof for a cigarette, cheating.”
Part of the problem, it seems, is that Roiphe has decided not to go cold turkey. She is allowing herself, for business or perhaps humanitarian reasons, to spend 15 minutes a day checking email. But as everyone knows, electronic mail is a the ultimate gateway drug. Imagine an update on that classic cautionary tale – (RE:)efer Madness.
By day five Roiphe seems to have made progress. She manages not to go online except to check her email. But her mental state mirrors that of an addict in withdrawal. “Things feel sort of flat, sort of barren…There is an enforced quality to my work, like I am working, but in a clean, well-lit jail.”
As the week comes to a close Roiphe realizes that she is working for hours uninterrupted by the web, achieving the sort of Zen-like peace that existed before AOL. “But then, of course, at the end of the day, the gold light in the maple outside my window, I do think to myself that it has been a week, and there’s no need to be obsessive, or overly dramatic, or excessively misanthropic, and just one click won’t hurt…”