data cap

Toward the end of last month, I freaked out when I got an email from my Internet Service Provider informing me that I was close to hitting my monthly data cap. 

Turns out, data caps for home Internet connections have been a thing for a while now— you get so many bits and bytes per month and, after that, you incur steep fees from your friendly neighborhood ‘Conglomo.’ Somehow, I’d stayed blissfully unaware of this reality prior to a couple weeks ago.

Since I “cut the cord” last year, I’ve been entirely reliant on my Internet connection, and the data it provides, for all of my TV, movies, and music. So I began desperately trying to find ways to conserve this suddenly precious and finite resource. 

Netflix all night? Only the shows I really needed to catch up on. Fall asleep with Hulu on? Better turn off auto-play. Carefully follow the Dodgers as they settle back into their winning ways? Maybe just two games a week instead of six.

I began obsessively checking my data usage meter every day, watching the gigabytes stack up as I counted down toward the end of the month, wondering if I was going to make it.

Then something happened. I found myself doing things I hadn’t done in a while: I went for walks in the evening, I called family and friends to catch up. I did some yoga, went to the beach, journaled, meditated, breathed…and I was content, even serene. I was reminded that there are ways of passing the time that don’t involve sitting in front of a screen, passively absorbing the bottomless cornucopia of visual entertainment being digitally piped into my home, on-demand.

At a time when life is being inexorably absorbed by the “cloud” and our spare moments have been hijacked by a new generation of media companies, it was a powerful lesson. A lesson that I will keep in mind the next time I find myself bored and reaching for the remote.

By the way, I did just barely stay under the cap.

data usage

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