As a writer, I’m at my laptop pretty much all the time. Sadly, that means the siren call of the internet is loud and constant. The urge to stop what I’m doing “just for a second” to check Facebook or news headlines or “research” something on Wikipedia for the next several hours is substantial. I figured the best way to combat this — other than developing a stronger will to not goof off — was to get rid of the internet when I didn’t need it.
I know there are programs out there in the ether designed to help with this, but I didn’t want to spend any money or start scouring the very internet I was trying to avoid. And, sure, my laptop has a button that turns off the wi-fi, but, seriously, it’s a button on the keyboard I’m sitting in front of all day. It never even stood a chance. Finally I settled on just unplugging the router in the other room. It worked — aside from my lack of motivation, I’m also pretty lazy — but the solution was inelegant at best and annoying and mildly treacherous at worst, given how my router’s positioned and the furniture situated between me and the outlet. That’s when I stumbled upon an internet kill switch.
The apartment my wife and I are currently in, like many before it, has a light switch connected to one of the far-flung outlets in the living room. Until recently, this outlet was connected to a lamp — the purpose I imagine the electrician designed it for. But we rearranged some things, the lamp included, and we were left with this outlet that could be rendered null at the literal flip of a switch. An outlet situated directly next to our modem and router. Suddenly it had found its new purpose.
Flip a switch by the front door — a switch conveniently inconvenient, hidden behind a coat rack — and the internet goes bye-bye. I toggle that down, walk into the far room where I write, and online distractions are a thing of the past.
While the kill switch is just as easy and immediate to reverse as the laptop wi-fi button, the fact that it isn’t sitting right in front of me is enough to get me to stop and think before turning the router back on. Plus, you know, the laziness factor. More pragmatically, it doesn’t involve unplugging anything and having to dig through the rat’s nest of other electronic components sharing the surge protector when it’s time to reconnect.
Admittedly, if you’ve got an unflappable work ethic and can simply shrug off the lilting call of status updates, breaking celebrity news, and adorable puppy videos, this isn’t going to do much for you. But for the rest of us mortals, the internet kill switch is a chance to finally be productive. At least for a few hours each day.