It’s hard to go back in time. To revert to older technology is to swim against the current. It took me the better part of a day just to transfer my information from a smart phone to a “dumb” old flip phone. Breaking from an internet-dependent life, choosing to cut email, social media, and all other web-based platforms, is easier said than done. I have only just started and already have been asked my numerous friends, why are you doing this?
I could list a dozen reasons why. Like, for instance, I sleep with my iPad on my pillow so the first thing I can do upon waking is to check who may have contacted me or “liked” one of my posts. In and of itself, that’s not a terrible habit (I can think of worse), but it feels symptomatic of an addictive dependence to social stimuli mitigated by technology, stimuli that aren’t truly social. Already a solitary person, I find it easier to isolate myself when I have the ability “connect” with people without leaving my bedroom.
Search “internet challenge” and you’ll find scores of accounts of people taking vows of internet abstinence. And for millions of people around the world, the internet is still an alien concept. So obviously the impulse to live without internet is not a novel one. My undertaking this challenge isn’t anything special, and I don’t mean to sound self-righteous. But I do believe we all should spend less time looking at screens and more time looking at each other, at the printed word, at trees and vistas.
I’m undertaking this challenge as a means to an end. I accept that my social, professional, and even romantic life will be influenced by the net for the rest of my life. But is it too late to get by in our society without using the it? It would be one thing to eschew the world wide web while on vacation, perhaps backpacking in remote wilderness. But to keep up the day-to-day routine of an urban professional without access to the internet is another matter. Will it prove to be too much?
I’m going to find out. For the next month, I will separate myself from my computer, my smart phone and my tablet. They’ll be kept safe at a friend’s house until I re-emerge. In the meantime, I will rely only on my talk and text phone, a physical calendar, actual maps, a film camera, a watch, the radio, vinyl records, newspapers, books! The one exception will be to check my work email, while at work. I need to be pragmatic – work must take priority. But I won’t be checking my personal email, or Facebook, or Instagram, etc. So if you want to reach me, please call or text: 510.910.3205