Life beyond the internet

I am a child of the internet. I remember the early(ish) days, when we had 14.4k modems and I hadn't yet discovered search engines. Always a geek, I was one of the first kids in school to get access at home. One day after doing some research for a school project on The Blitz using altavista, I announced excitedly to my classmates that one day soon all the information known to mankind would be on the Internet AND the internet would be everywhere. They laughed.

Cuba doesn't really have the internet. There is an expensive data network (not 3G) I can access from my phone and a very slow broadband connection available on the islands for tourists, but the locals can only gain access by queuing for hours at small, rare internet cafe type places. Two weeks here have been an interesting experiment.

The initial feeling of panic that overcame me with the realisation I no longer had constant access to email, Google & the wonderful exercise in crowdsourcing that is Twitter, was quickly replaced with a serene calm. Being disconnected feels good.

Normally I'm constantly checking email, Twitter, Google Analytics, news feeds & other sources of information that feed a thirst for knowledge which only grows and deepens. A question posits itself: what's the weather going to be like? what other film is that actor in? what's the proper CSS for text shadow again? how long does it take to drive to the train station?... I can't help myself, a few clicks or taps and I've got the answer. There's not really even any reason to remember it as I can always find it again later.

Here I have to think, remember, use my powers of reason and deduction. I've read fiction books, something I've not done in a long while, and it's been tantalising and frustrating to have to figure out or guess at what words mean instead of looking them up, to not be able to quickly wiki some battle or historic figure or religious icon because it sounded interesting. It's been liberating, I feel like I've freed my mind.

Surely that's what a holiday is about right? Taking time out, relaxing, leaving the world behind, reading a few books and having time to just be. This however has been something more, this has been the realisation that although the internet feeds my passion for knowledge (and knowledge is power) it also somewhat quashes my imagination, my ability to think for myself and to have original thought.

With the advent of broadband, and not much more than a year ago my obtaining an iPhone, I have reached a stage where I am never disconnected. It is time, I think, to work at getting some balance back.s at