Internet Withdrawal

Posted on March 2, 2014 by

Customers waiting in line at the bank or post office pass the time these days tickling their smart-phones.  A good way, I suppose, to cope with impatience, prevent anxiety and feel productive.  There’s probably less “small talk” – chitchat among strangers – than there used to be.  And maybe that’s too bad.

When I’m stuck in a long line or alone for lunch or coffee, I usually have a book with me.  I picked up that habit as a former NYC subway rider and now feel almost dedicated to the practice, like I’m upholding an ancient tradition.

Fewer people carry books nowadays – hard or soft – although many, of course, could be involved in serious e-reading.

I’m not judging others, just trying to touch on how the online world is leaving me a bit cold.  I’ve been spending less time, for example, surveying news on the internet.  There could be several reasons for this:

First: we’re in a rather static political period now, waiting out the Obama Years.

Second: it’s hard, I’ve discovered, to develop lasting loyalties with online media.  Not like when you looked in your mail box for the print version of The Nation, Business Week or The New Yorker.

Third (and most of all, I think): scanning the web for stuff to read has become more irritating than satisfying.  Perhaps it’s my life-stage (you know, when the knees start to go) but I want my reading to be more – well – enduring.

For the past year or so I’ve been fiction-binging.  Titles which have been in the back of my bookshelf or picked up at thrift shops or (I admit) bought from online sellers.  Catching up on contemporary writers:  Andrea Barrett, Kate Grenville, Erica Jong, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ann Patchett, Philip Roth, Amy Tan, John Updike.

My reading habits, I’ve noticed, correspond to political circumstances.  After Al Gore surrendered, I entered a more imaginary phase.

Maybe my internet withdrawal is a temporary condition leading to the 2014 election cycle.

If we survive, I’ll ramp it up for the 2016 presidential.  If it goes badly for us, I’ll retreat further into my world of reflection, rumination and reckoning.

Comments (2)


  1. John Bishop says:


    Thank you for these thoughts and for being a fellow reader!
    Let me recommend Richard Leider’s book, Claiming Your Place at the Fire. This was my best read in 2013!

    John Bishop
    3 Church Circle
    PMB 208
    Annapolis, MD 21401

  2. Steve Weingarten says:

    Are you channeling Andy Rooney? Don’t! Get happy, Lou.

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