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Surviving Week Without the Web

By Ryan Broderick, Editor-in-Chief

Hofstra's School Of Communication is facilitating a grand experiment this week. The organizers have draped Dempster Hall in huge banners reading "Week Without the Web" or "WWW."

Get it?

Lining the Newshub are paper Facebook profiles that let students "post" to them using post-it notes. I have one.

But judging by the classes I've attended this week and the unchanged scene in the Newshub, I'd say the students— and some professors— have failed the experiment.

But by the time you read this I'll have gone a hopefully successful week without using the Internet.

Considering human beings have gone a couple thousand years worth of weeks without the web, that probably shouldn't be much of an achievement. For me though, it is.

I figured I'd be the perfect guinea pig to represent The Chronicle for "Week Without The Web."

My credentials: I have over 800 Facebook friends, over 200 twitter followers, follow hundred or so back and I've posted 9,445 different times on my blog. I just did the math, considering I got a tumblr about a year and a half ago, I'm posting about 20 times day. I'm an avid Redditor (member of and my Google Reader collects multiple posts daily from over 150 websites, cartoons, news sites and blogs.

And, that's not me bragging. If I could, I'd literally freebase a Wi-Fi signal. I did some more math, with the help my smartphone, I spend about seven to eight hours online. It's kind of gross.

The day Rebecca Black's "Friday" blew up? I was there. The day Gawker was DDOS'd by the anonymous community from after the scandal with Jessi Slaughter? Followed it on The Huffington Post. Don't worry if all of that is gibberish to you, most likely it should be (if you're over 25-years-old).

At the time of writing this though I'm about halfway through the week. And I can tell you, I feel a lot better today than I did on Monday morning.

Monday, waking up to my Internet-blackout, there were no Facebook updates, new blog posts, tweets, nothing. I was disoriented. And then I was shocked at how disoriented I was.

I was discovered things that creeped their way into my life, after so many hours engulfed in the online world.

First off, there was the completely unexpected and very frustrating reflex in me to double-check the internet every couple minutes. It was like quitting smoking, but instead of lighting up, I wanted to Wikipedia a movie I was watching on TV to see what the critic's consensus of it was and who was in it.

Then there was the constant urge to update. I'm not a huge Facebook junkie, and I never really thought I consciously came up with Facebook statuses. It really hit me on the way to work, something kind of funny happened, my hand reached for my phone before I even knew what was happening.

The Internet keeps me pretty busy, without it, I felt as restless as an old woman wandering a nursing home. I was literally pacing.

My attempts at reading a book were pretty humbling. There were no links to jump around. There were no pictures. It was madness. I'm over-exagerating, but my attention span was seriously shot.

But a funny thing happened at the end of my first Internet-less day in a very long time, I slept really well. Without the buzz in my head, without the glowing screen stuck in my eyes, without the kind of weird update-anxiety, I wasn't restless anymore.

I can tell you I'm a lot more relaxed this week then I was last week.

And I know a lot of communications students kind of brushed it off as silly, and in a sense it is.

The first speaker of the week, Michael Hawley, when asked what he thought about the Week Without the Web said, "Yeah, you could go a week without plumbing too."

Well, sometimes it's a good idea to see how far you've come by taking a few steps back.

Would I do it again? Sure, why not, it'd probably make a great blog.

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