Could you spend an entire year without the internet? I don’t think I could. I’d say these days I could go a week without Google, but I probably wouldn’t be enjoyable company. (Is that bad?)
Back in the early 2000s, the hubs’s grandmother owned a cottage in the French River area of Ontario. Every summer, we’d go up there every chance we could, and sometimes spend weeks there. There was no phone line and no cell signal. No cable TV. No computer. No newspapers unless we went into town. Back then, we’d spend our time sitting by the lake, swimming, reading, playing board games, listening to tunes, eating or sleeping. It was a different way of life – a different pace – and one that we really enjoyed. We were definitely unplugged from the rest of the world.
2002 was before the time when social media became “a thing”. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no YouTube, no Steam…NO GOOGLE! Online banking was just beginning. High-speed internet was fairly new. Today, fast forwarding years into the future, I wonder how I would manage without having the internet. I think I’d be okay for a week – then I’d be wondering what was happening “out there” without me. Even when we were at the cottage, I was Jonesing for a Toronto Star after four days, wondering what’s been going on in the world.
These days, the information superhighway is hard to escape, and some are very happy for that. When my mother-in-law went on a Mediterranean cruise last year she let us know what was going on with her throughout her trip on Facebook. When she came back she said how she enjoyed having access to wifi during her trip so she could read up on what she was missing back home. The days of traveling and not knowing what is happening around you are over.
The media outlet, the Verge, asked journalist Paul Miller to stay off the internet for a whole year, and he gladly accepted the charge. No Facebook, no email, no Twitter… Fine with Miller. He was burned out from the internet and wanted to unplug. This story piqued my interest: Here is someone who at the start had been effectively plugged in with news, technology and social media since he was twelve, and decided to cut off that electronic lifeline for a whole 365 days. Every time he would update readers on his progress, I would read between the lines cynically and think: The man must be HATING this experiment!
…Or perhaps it was the photos they would include with his articles in which he looks absolutely miserable.
As Miller’s journey ended, he concluded: “My plan was to leave the internet and therefore find the “real” Paul and get in touch with the “real” world, but the real Paul and the real world are already inextricably linked to the internet. Not to say that my life wasn’t different without the internet, just that it wasn’t real life.”
Every thing is linked to the internet, and so are people. In detaching from the internet to have more human contact, Miller found it harder and lonelier. Interestingly enough, he also thought disconnecting would cure some things he was going though, but realized the internet was not his problem and he still had some personal stuff to work through.
I am not surprised at all by Paul Miller’s conclusions of the internet and how the world is connected through it. It is perhaps the reason I love being online so much. I have been able to renew old friendships, get in contact with family I wasn’t aware I had, and give myself a little voice “out there” that I am able to share – and that is just with social media. With gaming, imagine the Steam sales I’d miss without access to the ‘net! Tragedy!
Who doesn’t feel like “unplugging” for a while? When given a choice, I can give up TV without a problem – and have quite easily. I hate the phone and cut my land line a couple of years ago. I disconnected Twitter, but now I’m back. The internet as a whole is something that has been so much a part of my life for the last 18 years, I find it hard to fathom living without it for an extended period of time. Today, the internet has become a powerful lifeline for commerce, entertainment, social activity and knowledge and I find it difficult to stay away from it. Not surprisingly, as his off line experiment came to a close, Paul Miller realized this too.
How long could you hold out without the internet?