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September 17, 2009

Tech Torture with Topher, Day 4: This is hard

Posted: 06:25 PM ET

Editor’s note: This is the latest in’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it. This week, Topher must avoid all Web-based technology when he’s outside of the office.

Welcome back all,

Just a quick update to go with the video: Last night was maybe the hardest I've had this week. I know I'm being a bit of a whiner, but I kept thinking of things I needed to get done - and all of them involved my computer. I think I felt extra motivated to go online because I knew I couldn't.

I love all the comments I am getting, even the ones just blasting me. I appreciate both sides, because we want TTWT to be a conversation. I want you all to keep telling me what you think about my experiment, and about your experience with giving up tech.

Ok hop on over to Twitter (Topheratl) and let us know what you think.
If you start to follow me on Twitter, please take the time to say hi and let me know you found me through this blog.

One more night of this unplugged misery left! We'll see how it goes.

Editor’s note: Topher Kohan is the search engine optimization (SEO) coordinator for, a “Star Wars” aficionado, a tech dork and an all-around good guy. (No, really, he is — just ask him.)

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Matthew MacLean   September 17th, 2009 7:28 pm ET

It's hard I know. I'm an Iraqi war vet and on my last deployment my macbook pro went to the birds due to fragmentation from a mortar hitting my tent. No music, no dvd's no games..... just me and a guitar with 3 strings....
Its like going back in time and telling a black smith he's not allowed to use a furnace to heat his metal. It's just how the technology of his time made his job easier. Just like technology now.
Don't worry buddy, you will pull through.

Andres   September 17th, 2009 8:16 pm ET

Hey Topher,

Do you think that if you didn't work in a technology job it would be easier to unplug? I work in the tech industry and find it hard to just step away from what I know and do all day when I get home, so I feel you pain.

K   September 17th, 2009 10:52 pm ET

So you're blogging about life without the web? Abstaining from the web means doing away with inputs AND OUTPUTS! A huge part of the web's addictive power comes from the ease with which one can put one's thoughts out for everyone to see. Allowing this brave geek to broadcast his every concern completely defeats the purpose of cutting him off in the first place. There is plenty of psychological benefit to blogging as he is, even if he doesn't get any feedback, and I am certain he would readily confirm this if you were ACTUALLY cut him off from all net without knowing that thousands are reading everything he writes.

In short, you are lazy and a drain on society. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Please go away.

Dolnor Numbwit   September 18th, 2009 2:28 am ET

You should be spending 2/3rds of your time AWAY from the computer and only 1/3 online. If, as you stated, you spend the bulk of your Life online, seek professional help....seriously.

I've been online (BBS, CompuServe, Internet) since 1983. Yes, in the early years of LOOK AT THIS, I was online for a bulk of my free time. But then, my job didn't require me to be online so I got small doses of it. Perhaps because I didn't grow up with the functional personal computer (It arrived the year I graduated high school), my mindset isn't wrapped around it. You, of course, are from an era when the computer was always available.

It sounds like you are so addicted to the are making excuses to be on it. Much like alcoholics can make excuses to take another drink. Getting behind doing what in the computer? Friends missing you in WOW? Hundreds of tweets were missed by you? Facebook had an update you missed? Are these things more important in your Life than exploring new opportunities and challenges AWAY FROM IT?

I doubt I could have a friend whom is out for drinks with me, who only is thinking how to word the current situtation in his next tweet or Facebook blog. Seriously, that's just sad. -(


Mr. Mike   September 18th, 2009 7:59 am ET

This must be an age thing. Young folks such as yourself have spent a greater proportion of your lives and formative years hooked up to electronic gadgets, connected to the Internet, and interacting with virtual environments, so breaking away is difficult. Many older folks such as myself spent our formative years and many afterward interacting with the real world, so the Internet is just a small part of our lives. I'm a software engineer so I'm definitely not technology-averse, yet to me the Internet is just a place I go to get answers to questions and get up to date on the latest headlines, but I spend more time every day outside exercising than web surfing.

Doc   September 18th, 2009 8:21 am ET

i recently found an add online from the 90's where a company was selling 100 MB of storage for 3 grand. people today take everything we in the tech field have worked so hard to achieve for granted and assume that life with amazing technologies is the norm. i personally refuse to play my guitar unless its hooked into my laptop where i am running JamVox software, back in the day it was just me and an acoustic on my porch in the projects of northeast philly. instead of worrying about what you havent accomplished this week without technology think about what you HAVE done, im sure you werent sitting around twiddling your thumbs until 11pm.

bob   September 18th, 2009 11:18 am ET

eh.... so many people have done this before.. this is stupid. And your stupid to agreeing to do it.

thanos   September 18th, 2009 1:16 pm ET

Topher; it's only difficult because you don't have a life outside of the computer. Not to slight you or anything but it seems that you're part of a generation that can only get their point across or fulfill their need to belong if its in a "social networking" group or online. Example: Dorky guy alone is just that. A dorky guy. Dorky guy who belongs to "Geeks who love Megan Fox" online is suddenly a part of something. Your need to network is just a symptom of the millions of people who have lost their actual one to one personal networking skills. Rather than go out and actually meet people they hide behind the anonimonty of their keyboard and this gives them false courage to say anything. My suggestion to you; join a gym. Go out. Meet actual people not avatars.

Spencer I   September 18th, 2009 2:08 pm ET

I think this is great I grew up with my head inside a computer literally. But still find ways to detach from the tech lifestyle. The major thing I think about is that most of our jobs now relie on sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. I know mine does, for 12 hours a day & 15 days out of a month I sit at a desk answering phone calls and directing people around a hospital. The only thing I'm allowed to look at is

By the way try just getting away, when you get off work don't drive straight home go down a road you've never been. It's what I do, I don't know how many times I've driven to Yuma, CA; or other little desert towns. Well good luck mate.

Marie   September 19th, 2009 7:39 pm ET

I think most Americans work more than a 40 hour week these days and that computers and remote access to work and online instant everything just makes it easier for us to get overly involved in work. Maybe the question is not what you do with your spare time but that you have it at all. How much of your time online "after hours" is really work related? And if it it recreational, what is the difference between 1 hour online and 1 hour reading a novel? You can play WOW and still have meaningful relationships and family interactions. Now, if you are playing 6 hours a day, we need to talk. Everything in moderation.

laurieloves   September 20th, 2009 1:19 pm ET

I think it's really easy for people to judge – way too easy, in fact. I grew up in a school where COMPUTER LAB was a class. In first grade, nontheless. We didn't do anything but learn how to use "paint" and play "oregon trail" but we learned no doubt. I'm only 22, but most of my job includes me not only learning specific programs on the computer to be able to assist my customers better, but it also calls for the need for a knowledge on how to use the internet for any researching needs. I think it's pretty easy for people to say, "oh, you're having a hard time breaking up with the computer because you're a dork. You spend all your free time on the internet, and that makes you a sad person. No wonder this is so hard for you." But, we grew up on the computer. We NEED computers to work 90% of the jobs out there. We're a technological society. I dont even think you can get a mainstream cellular phone without the ability to get WWW access.

I have a life, many friends, a fiance, 3 cats, 2 dogs, I excersise daily, and yet I still have a Blackberry, 2 laptops, and a desktop. I watch most of my favorite tv shows online, same with movies. Just because you have a reliance on a computer doesn't make you a nerd. And to cap off my comment...what about the ones who have been leaving negative comments? You have to have a computer, and be ON it in order to read this story. Not only do you have to be on your computer, you have to be on the internet. And not only do you need to be on the internet, you need to be basically surfing through. Lets stop throwing stones when we live in glass houses people. Lets ALL grow up. Hey, I have a perfect medium, take your laptop outside, and try to access the MILLIONS of wireless signals traveling all across the world. Maybe then you'll be "hip," instead of a "dork."

Loni Hamilton   October 5th, 2009 11:28 am ET

while this poor guy is going through 1 version of tech torture, i must tell ya of my tech torture.

visualize the most dangerous hacker using your systems to go in and out of everyone elses and they have no clue. No matter how hard ya try to bring the attention to focus that your find yourself fighting this thing alone.

i am forced to write my site i just started to help microsoft with their confusions and waiting for fbi to contact me.

i started to write everything i know about all the hackings everying is experiencing at my site linked to my email addres..

since Aug of 2008, my new sign off is HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

Sophomorocat   October 13th, 2009 3:02 pm ET

It is in no way theft for me to use my equipment to access a site and block the thieves of my time and attention who home in like horseflies...I am not a horse and they want to visit or they wouldn't be accessible! I don't mind ads on the page so much, they are their business and if I don't like the site I won't come back but active ads use my electricity to sell their product much like the old ad fax campaigns which were rightly outlawed.

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