Could You Disconnect Your Mac?

by Chris Howard Oct 09, 2006

Our fearless leader, Hadley, caused a bit of a stir in the last week by offering a theoretical situation of having to choose a life on a desert island with either a Windows PC with the internet, or a Mac without the internet.

The assumption is that we’d all choose the internet equipped PC and all those who railed against him, called it a stupid question because essentially, they wanted an internet equipped Mac which proved his point about our internet dependence.

As one astute reader, tundraboy, said “We Macbots are just incapable of dealing with a question that forces us to choose a PC over a Mac.  We get system overload and our logic circuits go into meltdown.  In our world there is just no way in hell that a PC could be preferable over a Mac.”

But I wouldn’t have taken the internet even if you offered it with the Mac. If the question was a desert island with a Mac and with the choice of internet or not, then the real conundrum emerges.

I really would choose not to have the internet. Having just spent a few days down the beach and disconnected, I know I don’t need the internet. Sure I couldn’t write for AM any more, nor have blogs, nor communicate by email nor do a plethora of tasks I take for granted, but those aren’t core to my happiness, and I can live without them.

Having an enjoyable computer to use (the Mac) is much more appealing than a Windows computer and the internet. Both those are time wasters.

If I was on a deserted island with a computer without an internet connection, I could finally get on and do the things I’d really want to do with a computer, like write books and make cool music in Garageband. The whole appeal of a desert island is the escape from the stress and hassle of our technologically dependent lives. (Bear in mind of course we are being a bit idealistic and assuming that survival has been taken care of.)

In fact what Hadley’s question offers is akin to a ball-and-chain job. The Internet has become a ball-and-chain in our lives. Some of us have become as dependent on it as we are food, water and oxygen.

This is the whole premise of Castaway. A man dependent on a 21st century lifestyle, revolving around work, success and communication, has all that torn away from him. Eventually he discovers he doesn’t need any of that for happiness. Likewise many of us with the internet on our Macs.

Have you ever had the internet drop out on you for any length of time? Initially it’s like a worst nightmare; you feel so lost and incapable of doing anything. But slowly as the hours roll by, you start to feel a weight lifting off your shoulders, a pressure relieved. You don’t need to check your email every 15 minutes, your RSS feeds, things you’d like to buy on eBay.

If you can’t live without the internet, then you might also understand Hadley’s original question which was really about the ubiquitousness of the internet. And if you think it’s hard to choose between an internet-equipped Windows PC and a disconnected Mac, you want to try asking yourself to choose between a connected or a disconnected Mac.


  • I will be going on vacation to many islands in East Asia shortly and this very question hit me in the head.

    I will be gone for a month with little or no Net connection whatsoever. First thought, “Oh, no! I will be totally lost without the internet.” A few moments to think about it, “yeah, it would be great without the Net!”.

    Why, you ask? Well, I will enjoy the beautiful sceneries a lot more, for one. Another, I will have 24/7 of my time actually having a vacation rather than being tied to the Net, as you always do nowadays.

    I know I will have initial withdrawal symptoms but a few bottles of cold sake will wash those quick. wink If not, a trek to the scenic mountainside or along a dead volcano on a lake will always do the trick.

    So, yeah I can and will have to turn-off my faithful Macs for a few weeks and I won’t let the illness that will surely infect me ruin my nice holiday in paradise.

    My Macs will gladly be waiting for my return.

    Robomac had this to say on Oct 11, 2006 Posts: 846
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