Free Yourself From the Shackles of the Internet!

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You groan as you hit snooze on your iPhone or BlackBerry's alarm, then you resume the ritual of checking your text messages, Gmail, and Twitter with bleary orbs. You drag yourself outta bed, hastily shower, pull anything that's unwrinkled and clean onto your limbs, and scurry to your car to arrive at work before the witching hour.

But the freeways are slammed, as per usual, so you post a tweet lamenting the fact that your car can't fly. To brighten your mood, you tool around on your Facebook application and giggle at your friends' Monday morning status updates while keeping one eye (or perhaps half an eye?) on the road.

In the nick of time, you roll into your place of employment, and sit down in front of your computer, where you are barraged with instant messages inquiring about your weekend activities, scads of email from co-workers and clients, and research assignments that necessitate substantial hours of internet perusal. Not to mention you've got to read the Houston Press and the Chron with that piping hot cuppa joe you've procured before any real work begins, natch.

You receive texts as the hours drag on about your plans for that evening ("Do you have plans tonight?" "What sounds good?" "Does dinner sound like a plan?" "Maybe a run 'round Memorial then Berryhill?"). And, no doubt, you surreptitiously check Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook almost as much as Outlook throughout the course of your eight-ish-hour workday.

It's all too much, isn't it?

Yes, actually, it is. Or it can be. Or it's becoming to be.

Famed cartoonist and creativity poster child Hugh MacLeod recently took it upon himself to turn his own cyber volume down by chucking his BlackBerry and leaving his laptop at the office. He said, "The 'Always-On Cul­ture' had been fee­ling oppres­sive for a while now," and deci­ded to do something about it. "Basta," Hugh says. "Badass," we say.

Does the siren song of the interwebs sing a bit too loudly for you? Well, here are a few ways you can take a shredder to its vocal chords and silence the noise for awhile:

Shut It Down: The on/off power button on your phone is missing your touch. Your friendship with the shutdown option on your computer feels neglected. We know you roll like Steven Tyler and don't wanna miss a thing, but there's always voice mail and email, dear reader. And besides, they're pieces of machinery anyway. They aren't designed to be on 24/7. In fact, they need to rest and recharge, just like you do. So let 'em be still every so often. Trust us, you won't miss much of anything. A booty call here and there won't kill you. Promise.

Home Is Where the Fresh Start Is: If you're online all day, what digifix haven't you gotten while at work? Make home your sanctuary, and only connect up if you need directions or menus or hours of operation. So what will you do without the interwebs? Cook. Read a book. Perform oral sex on your significant other. These are only suggestions; the point is, the sky's the limit! You can't do any of these things at work. Make the most of the time you got when you're not obligated to sit in front of a computer.

Don't Take It With You: Most smartphones are akin to teeny tiny computers, right? You're always connected to something or someone somewhere wherever you go, right? So don't take it with you. Easy peasy. Going out to dinner? Leave it in your glove compartment ('cause you're certainly not putting gloves in it in this weather). Heading out for some road biking? Leave that phone on the charger at your casa. Again, we assure you, what does not kill you only makes you stronger.

If You Like It, Then You Shouldn't Put a Google On It: Remember when we used to get to know each other in real life? Instead of spending your precious waking hours scouring Facebook or stalking people you barely know on Google, get outta that chair, meet people, and get to know 'em, face to face. Yes, we mean in person. We recommend brushing your teeth and generously applying deodorant before you go.

We're Not Friends if You're Online: This is for you hardliners out there. Your friends are online, yeah? Then just get new ones! Are they always talking about this and that on Facebook or Twitter? Give 'em the axe and go cold turkey on everyone! Errr. Okay, okay. We'll admit - you can ignore this one. But we'll go to the mat for you. IRL. You can't say we didn't try.



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