Could you cancel your home Internet service?


Twenty. That’s how many hours the average adult spends online every week. Twenty hours surfing YouTube, answering emails, googling obscure answers to random questions, and refreshing social media feeds. Based on my calculations about how much time I spend staring a screen weekly, I’d say that this little factoid hits pretty close to home.

In other words, I’m on the Internet a lot. (Something I’m trying to work on.) Apparently so are you.

Perhaps it’s because of this fact that when I encountered the following headline a year ago, it caught my attention. The headline read Killing home internet is the most productive thing I’ve ever done, and it was written by Joshua Fields Milburn of The Minimalists. One year later, I still think about it often.

In the article Joshua said that he felt like the Internet was stealing his time (yes—tell me more), and that he was discontent with the way he was using it (again, yes—go on). He claimed that he wanted to be more deliberate with his Internet use so he cancelled his home Internet service and hasn’t looked back.

What??? You can do that?

The Internet has crept it’s way into my life and taken over

I had mixed feelings about Joshua’s proposal to opt-out of Internet service at home. Since the late 1990’s the Internet has crept it’s way into more and more pockets of my life. (Literally, it’s now in my pocket.) When Joshua wrote about his discontentment with how the Internet was monopolizing his time, it resonated with me. I frequently feel like I’m not in control when it comes to the Internet—like it’s driving my behavior rather than the other way around. I love how accessible information is on it, but honestly it feels like the Internet consumes more of my life than I want it to. His example of cutting way down was provocative and enticing.

Another part of me (the part that still has Internet service at home a year later) feels like canceling my service is impractical. Firstly, I’m not the only one who uses Internet at home, and I know my husband well enough to know that he wouldn’t be on board going cold turkey. Secondly, I use the Internet at home for personal work (like this site) and don’t have the flexibility that Joshua has to hit up cafes and public wifi sites for Internet use. Thirdly, I’m just not ready to take a plunge like that (though I really admire him for doing it).

3 ideas for downsizing your Internet use

Fortunately there are some additional suggestions that Joshua mentioned in his article that I could implement, and they have the potential to make a significant impact on my life. For instance, per his ideas, I can:

  1. check email once per day (Okay, maybe twice is more reasonable. I do work in an office and my coworkers are crazy email fiends.)
  2. designate Internet goof-off time, and then keep the rest Internet-free
  3. keep a running list of things to check/research online and then do it all at once

Each of these suggestions invites the kind of discipline I’m looking for when it comes to my Internet use. By setting firmer boundaries around how much time and how I use the Internet, I feel like I’ll be gaining back some of the control that I’ve lost. Ultimately I’m looking for less complexity, less screen time, and habits that look more like 1996 than 2016.

What about you? Could you cancel your home Internet service?

Related: Do you spend as much time looking at screens as I do?

Related: browse all posts in Media

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