You might say that I’m the closest thing to a Luddite in Boston. I don’t own a car. I don’t subscribe to cable TV. (I don’t even have a TV.) I don’t own a landline phone. Shortly, I will add one more item to my tech hit list. On May 25th, I will eliminate cable Internet from my material existence, along with the $66.95 monthly bill that comes with it.
The decision was initially a matter of money– “my” money. Over the last several years, my cable bill has been gradually creeping up from its 1-year deal rate of $19.95. When I finally learned a month ago that my smartphone can act as my laptop’s wireless router (dubbed “Mobile Hotspot” — can you tell how behind I am in the tech world?), I began to question the need for high-speed cable Internet. In addition, I learned earlier this year that both my condo fee and subway pass fare will increase sometime this summer. So, I needed to triage. The ultimate question was: Can I divorce myself from the Internet provider after having been married to it for the last 16 years?
I contemplated long and hard about the issue. I read multiple Web articles on the relative advantages and disadvantages of relying solely on my phone data plan. Clearly, if I were a Netflix or YouTube hog or a serious gamer or music downloader, then cutting the Internet cord would not be feasible. My phone plan grants me only 3GB of Mobile Hotspot, which is insufficient for even one high-def movie. Fortunately, I do not belong in that camp of techno gluttons, and I convinced myself that I can ration my data in much the same way that I ration my monthly grocery allowance. I could use the Hotspot for simple tasks, like creating documents on Google Docs or checking my work emails from home. Because I have unlimited 4G data on my phone plan, I can conduct on my multi-purpose phone the vast majority of social media, personal email, web surfing, and video streaming. (I’ve used the Netflix app several times on the phone, and the movies look just fine on the ultra-small screen). If I were desperate, my local coffee shop with free Wi-Fi is right around the corner.
While money may have been the catalyst for this cord-cutting experiment, I was forced again to ask myself “Do I need this?” “Will my life be made simpler without it?” The answers to those questions are, respectively, no and yes. I love the idea, and the challenge, of pursuing a life without fewer material possessions. I’ll learn to be creative with my limited resources, to focus more on my hobbies and friendships, and to use technology with more intention. (No more hours of mindless web surfing!) I’m not quite at the level of a techno-minimalist (and owning both a smartphone and laptop will definitely prevent my ascension to that revered level), but it’s a step in the right direction. And my checkbook will thank me for it.