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My month of being digitally outcast

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From time to time intrepid reporters and bloggers voluntarily cut themselves off from society (phone and internet) and write about their experiences surviving in a tweet and text free world where no soul knows what pub they are drinking in, what kind of artistically arranged poached egg they had for breakfast or heaven forbid, what their current relationship status is.


A house move and a iPhone in a glass of water situation have combined to leave me floating around in the ether for almost six weeks and as a girl who normally checks Facebook on her phone every 20 minutes, has been an interesting shift indeed.


I might like to add at this point that the reason I have been cut off for so long is no fault of my own but due to hopeless nationwide services letting me down. Apparently BT need at least a months notice to come around and re-connect the already existing BT phone line and don't even get me started on Homecare mobile insurance on whom I have spent over £50 on pay-as-you-go credit to be left on hold on an almost daily basis, never having actually got through to a human being until Monday of this week. But let's leave all that for my pending complaint letters. What I am talking about here is the agony and the ecstasy of becoming digitally outcast.


I quickly discovered that living opposite a library meant I could use the library's WiFi, hoorah! Free internet 4eva I thought. But no, it's a tempramental and fickle beast of a connection which is actually only turned on during library hours which thanks to Mr Cameron are somewhat sparadic.  On the plus side this means that work stops at 6pm sharp, and cannot be resumed until 10am, 11am or sometimes 1pm the next day or in the case of Sundays, not at all. This has resulted in evenings being spent watching films or documentaries or actually talking to real people for big chunks of time without being continually interrupted by emails and other such beeping/flashing. I have been watching the news from start to finish and am also up to date with everything the BBC has to offer instead of streaming endless episodes of GIRLS as my only viewing. It also means that I have had to become more organised and not fire off badly punctuated emails from my bed after three glasses of wine at 2am. Having been self-employed for the last three years this has been a gentle reminder about how a normal person might function on a daily basis. On the down-side when I do actually manage to hack into the library hurdy gurdy a small movement in the pit of my stomach known as PANIC sets in when I click on my Yahoo inbox which has a red bubble containing the words '86 new emails' or realising an important meeting is about to take place in half an hours time and i'm still in my pyjamas, or indeed discovering a very angry customer who is wondering why he still hasn't received his sunglasses or any reply from me to his eight messages ascending in anger.


Becoming outcast from the internet brings a little balance back into your life but can quickly make you feel flakey and out of the loop which everyone else is so seamlessly tapped into. Adding your piece to an email which already has been passed back and forth 8 times without your prior viewing feels a little futile, especially when it was yesterday afternoon's hot topic, not Wednesday mornings.


As for my phone, I have had to revert back to my slidey-screen model of 2009 (no internet or camera but it does double up as a mirror!!) and add in a Pay As You Go SIM and make many visits to the corner shop to buy a £10 top up voucher in the vain hope that maybe this will be the week I actually manage to get through to the insurance company. My phone will not charge unless aided with heavy books and cello tape and even then after 20 minutes it will insist that it's battery is full and is need of no further charging only to peg out half an hour later. This has resulted in me needing to take the charger with me everywhere and plug it into random toilets/pubs/shops etc and reverting back to the pre-iPhone activity of drawing out of maps from Google to get to new places, praying that there will be no change of plan. One evening after setting off to a friend's for dinner I actually ended up turning around and going home again as I had no faith in my sat nav getting there nor my phone battery surviving the journey and suddenly began imagining what terrible things that can happen to someone who is phone less and lost in Peckham. How pathetic the modern world has turned me!


Well the good news is that BT are apparently coming on Monday, and my phone is supposed to arrive in 4 days from now which means my digital diet is almost over and I will soon be full hooked up, twittering and instagraming my way through the day and batting back emails as quickly as they come in. I am hoping that there will not be too many feral texts from friends wondering why I am ignoring them and in the meantime I will keep to the working hours of a normal and sane human being and hopefully take some of that discipline back into my digital life.

By Jessica Hazel

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