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It’s Time to Put The Internet Back Into a Box in The Basement

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My first online interaction, circa 1992, fascinated but also terrified me. I should have taken it as a warning.

At the time, computers were just machines you had in your basement. They had programs in them, and you would sit in a chair and use those programs for a while, then go do something else. The whole time you used this machine you remained, both physically and psychologically, in your own house.

Nobody had the internet yet really, but there were Bulletin Board Systems. Your computer could phone another computer, presumably in someone else’s basement, and access a virtual space for posting messages, designed by that computer’s owner. No images, just bare text. Only one person could visit at a time, because it occupied the owner’s phone line.

One time I was using a BBS, believing I was alone in my basement, when some strange text started appearing on my screen, letter by letter. Someone else was typing—on my screen, in my basement. The text asked if I was enjoying his BBS.

My heart pounded. What was happening was impossible. Seeing that alien text crawl onto my screen felt like a seeing ghost appear before you inside your locked bedroom.

I did not yet have any sense of what it meant to be “online.” At the time, everything was offline. Life consisted of physical objects in physical locations. (We had TV and phones of course—which must have similarly amazed and unsettled those who were alive when they were introduced—but in my case they were an established part of the universe from birth.)

Still, for years afterward, going online was something you did in one place—at the home computer, or more likely, at the one in the school library—for a small part of the day, if at all. The online world was a novel and small part of life, and you almost never thought about it when you weren’t sitting in a computer chair.

Twenty-some years later, the internet seems present in almost every room, vehicle and public space—and I want that old feeling back. I want life to once again feel like it takes place in an immediate, local, physical world.

While living in this physical world, you can, if you choose, occasionally use a special computer device that allows you to look things up, learn a bit of news from afar, entertain yourself, and send important messages. 

Essentially that’s still all we use the internet for, yet it seems like nothing is truly offline. You have to literally go walk in the woods in order not to be online, and you’ll probably Instagram it later without even realizing it.

Our work, play, news, schoolwork, and social life all have at least one foot in the online world. Even our own bodies betray us, through muscle memory—our hands bring out our phones as a reflex to any hint of waiting, worrying, or wondering, many times a day, without conscious intention.

It’s become too much. Way too much “online.” But I think a shift is happening. It’s becoming more obvious that always-on connectivity is having some serious side effects on our minds and our society. More of us want less internet.

Facebook is currently having a public existential crisis, scrambling to “fix” itself in the wake of accusations that it’s making teenagers suicidal and perhaps undermining heretofore stable democracies.

We’ve seen Twitter go from a hip new place to connect and collaborate to a cauldron of public scorn and halfhearted activism. The phrase “social media” itself has become mostly pejorative, code for time-wasting habits, superficial relationships, and the mob mentality.

And whoever we are, whichever platforms we use, each of us is facing ever-multiplying occasions to feel hopelessly out-lived and out-achieved by The Joneses, because now The Joneses are infinite and everywhere—possibly even six inches from your face while you’re on the toilet.

It’s no longer controversial to suggest that ordinary internet use (by late 2010s standards) may be putting our mental health at risk. Some psychologists are concerned that the generation born between 1995 and 2012—people who didn’t experience adolescence before internet connectivity became ubiquitous—may become one of the greatest mental health crises the world has ever seen.

The Year We Came to Our Senses

I think, or maybe just hope, we’re on the cusp of an “Age of Offlining,” an era characterized by a conscious mass departure from using the internet in such reflexive, uncontrolled ways.

We’ll rediscover the value of living locally, emphasizing sensory experience, single-purpose tools, and forms of entertainment that don’t require chargers. There will be a surge in the popularity of board games (which is already happening). Bowling, crafting, gardening, and decent penmanship will make a comeback. People will spend more time in their yards.

The mental health effects of taking our phones out 100-plus times daily will have become at least as well-recognized as the physical health effects of smoking cigarettes.

Each of us will have fewer world issues swimming in our minds, resulting in less despair and cynicism. We’ll be more likely to understand and act on a handful of issues, rather than become paralyzed by a surface-level awareness of all of them.

Computers will still offer us thousands of powerful tools—word processing, research, messaging, spreadsheets, video viewing—but they’ll be designed so that these functions don’t bleed into one another so easily. You’ll never look up a word in the dictionary, and accidentally spend twenty minutes looking up actors’ birth years on Wikipedia.

Smartphones will no longer show you a candy-store-like spread of apps when you unlock them. You will tell it which tools you want to use, not the other way around.

It will become fashionable to be reachable only in person, by letter or telephone, or other modes that take some effort on the part of the person who wants to reach you. This will lead to fewer, but more meaningful connections, both professional and personal.

Email will become electronic mail again, something you check (and expect others to check) once a day or less, rather than behaving as text messages without character limits.

We will laugh about the 2010s, when we still thought our “Followers” really followed us, and our “Friends” were really friends. We’ll think of the Early Internet Era’s “web” much like its namesake: confounding, dangerous, hard to avoid, and harder to escape from.

From Everywhere Back to Somewhere

Internet connectivity will always be a vital part of our infrastructure, but its services don’t need to be hyper-connected and endlessly distracting. Netflix, for example, is entirely internet-based, but it’s relatively self-contained. You sit down with the intention to watch shows and movies, and that’s all you do. You don’t get sucked into political arguments or end up looking at your neighbor’s vacation photos.

Compare that to something like Twitter, as it exists today, which is essentially a randomized, infinite rolodex of hot takes from strangers on every possible issue, from elections and wars to McDonalds’ newest menu item. It’s hard to imagine a machine more efficient at shredding your time and mental energy into tiny, useless pieces.

We’ve gone completely nuts, and we’re slowly realizing it. I, for one, have reached Peak Internet. I’m rolling it back from here. I want my internet in a box in the basement again.

Such a box would still be supremely powerful—or it could be, if we can keep it from constantly fragmenting our limited time, stoking our insecurities, and dulling our ability to focus. We certainly wouldn’t want to be opening the box fifty times daily, a few minutes at a time, as we tend to do today.

I want to go down to the basement after work, put my messages and my writings into the box, take other people’s messages and writings out, and read them in my easy chair. And I want a big mechanical switch to shut it all off when I’m done with it.

At the moment, this is all a fantasy, but surely a new normal for internet use is about due. Until then, those of us who want to move back toward a “box-in-the-basement” style of use can do it through personal habits—drawing strict boundaries, aggressively deleting apps, renouncing mediocre services.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do. But I am sure there is a limit to how much distraction and mental fragmentation we human beings will tolerate, and that I’ve reached mine. Time to gather all the loose pieces and sprawling tendrils and box it up again, whatever that ends up looking like.

I don’t think I’m alone. Am I?

***

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe (cropped from original)

 

Do you meditate? Do you want to?

A few times a year I offer a straightforward 30-day mindfulness course called Camp Calm. The idea is to develop a modest but consistent meditation practice and a few mindful living habits, at a gentle pace of about ten minutes a day. No experience necessary, and it can fit virtually any schedule.

We’re gearing up for a new season. I hope you’ll consider joining us. More info here.

914 Shares
Ms ZiYou February 5, 2018 at 4:49 pm

I think this might be true for me, I’ve conquered mindless TV watching and social media, but the internet itself is just so easy to waste time on!

Derrick Whyte February 5, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Awesome article! So well put. You are not alone. I try to spread this thought daily to others. It’s refreshing to hear someone else feels this way and is getting the word out. I enjoy reading your posts.

Duncan February 5, 2018 at 5:28 pm

This is precisely the aims of an organisation set up by an ex-Google employee.

Recommended actions to reduce the impact of the internet in your life here:
http://humanetech.com/take-control/

Chaitanya Matukumilli February 10, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Thanks for this link. I started using some of the tips it suggests.

Thanks again!

David Cain February 13, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Excellent, thank you

Johan February 14, 2018 at 11:17 am

Love the suggestions. I’ve been using grayscale for about a week now and my eyes are the better for it. It seems “dumbing” down the phone is a practical way for it to be less attractive and impulsive.

I also took the zeromalist approach and have an empty home screen: http://verekia.com/zeromalist/#phone

I made a custom wallpaper with a single quote from a favorite author/scientist. It’s nice to turn the phone on and just see a simple screen with no icons.

Ben February 5, 2018 at 5:48 pm

Thank you for articulating something I’ve been considering for a long time. I work in technology, and I recognize its value every day. I think we can all appreciate its many benefits. Like you, I prefer to keep the majority of my computer time limited to a desktop computer that I use very intentionally.

Perhaps one of our biggest mistakes is confusing quantity and quality. We have access to endless streams of information, and millions of people. But filtering for what will be the most useful or joyful is difficult, because in the attention economy, there is a lot of money to be made keeping us distracted with junk.

Rob Thilo February 5, 2018 at 7:31 pm

I heard about changing the display on my iPhone to “grayscale” to make it less attractive. [Settings>General>Accessibility>Display Accommodations (on)>Color Filters(on)>Grayscale] A rather small hardware adjustment that saps a little addictive juice from the experience. Apparently after a few days, going back to color display is unpleasantly intense. Where is my attention, now? What happens to awareness?

David Cain February 13, 2018 at 3:14 pm

Hi Rob. I have been using greyscale for a few weeks now and love it. And when I switch it back (when I review photo, for example) it’s the gaudiest, ugliest thing ever

Randy Hendrix February 5, 2018 at 9:06 pm

Definitely not alone..made changes probably starting about a year ago. I keep all notifications and volume off on my phone when I get home from work. I check for anything urgent when I decide to. This helps to keep my exposure limited. Great post David.

Helen February 5, 2018 at 9:29 pm

No, you are definitely not alone. I don’t want to sound like a dinosaur (read old), but then again I am – anyway, what I am trying to say is that I want to and am trying to live a simpler life. Back in the days when people actually spoke to one another, or wrote a letter to communicate. People had time to spend with their families – just talking, sitting at a table to eat a meal, spending quality time with their children, playing board games. I so much want to be transported back to these times. Spending time on phones and other devices robs us of these precious times which we will never get back. I consciously make the decision every day not to pick up my phone or iPad, just to check something quickly, because down the rabbit hole of lost time I will fall. A simple life of real books and talking to actual people, either in person or on my landline phone, in my little house are what helps to keep me sane.
David, your writings are the always full of wisdom and common sense. Keep up the good work. They are about the only thing I check my emails for.

Cassie February 6, 2018 at 8:59 pm

I wanted to respond to tell you that if you are a letter writer, check out Letter Writer’s Alliance. Fantastic organization and they have matched me with a penpal and it’s been wonderful! Takes me back to my childhood penpal days.

Also, my daughter’s name is Helen. Rare name these days. She is at university and still hasn’t met another Helen.

Garrett78 February 5, 2018 at 10:43 pm

“At the moment, this is all a fantasy, but surely a new normal for internet use is about due. Until then, those of us who want to move back toward a “box-in-the-basement” style of use can do it through personal habits…”

Personal choice is the only way I see this happening. Technology almost has a mind of its own, and there’s no going back.

Abhijeet Kumar February 6, 2018 at 12:21 am

We live in one of the most ironical times. But no doubt, the next big thing (sorry, excuse my use of that phrase), the big thing right now is real experiences, real human interactions, real feel of the breeze blowing.

Mike February 6, 2018 at 2:23 am

Twitter is the most dangerous, time-sucking black hole ever invented. The thing about Twitter is that it’s the evil cousin of Facebook; on Facebook, The Joneses post faaaabulous photos of themselves, all smiling and happy, and it makes you think your life is crap. On Twitter, The Joneses try to outdo each other by posting one-lined commentary-zingers that show how Clever and Witty they are. And, once again you feel like crap (stupid crap, actually) and you spend hours trying to post your own witticisms that will get you meaningless “likes.”

Twitter is also terrible because it’s a place where millions of people have their own ridiculous axes to grind. Somebody posts something as innocuous as “I wish the city would fix those potholes on my street,” and right away there’s a backlash of “Commie! Socialist! Get a job-blah-blah-blah!” Apart from the occasional interesting news article that gets posted, Twitter is pretty much a vitriolic garbage dump.

And YES to letter-writing! I still do old-fashioned snail-mail; I like composing letters because it’s a pleasure to sit and think about what you’re writing. It’s also a pleasure for the recipient of your mail–people like getting something in their mailbox other than bills and flyers!

David Cain February 13, 2018 at 3:11 pm

I used to think of Twitter as the more innocuous of the two, but not anymore. It seems built for rage/blame/reactivity. It wasn’t always the way it is today though.

Daniela February 6, 2018 at 3:21 am

It’s definitely not just you! There is so much I can relate to here but the thing that sticks out for me is “mental fragmentation”. I feel like this all the time now. I’ve always been curious and love the written word but now I can’t escape it. So instead of just piles of unread books and magazines lying around, there’s now likely to be a phone and tablet sitting on top of them, teasing me with all the great – and not so great – jewels of information within. Is it any wonder I feel fragmented?? Now please excuse me while I go outside and enjoy the beautiful sight of the sun setting behind the hills. :)

Peter Howells February 6, 2018 at 12:46 pm

You’re not alone. Great article.

I’m an ex web developer and ex internet addict gradually finding my ‘middle ground’ again.

JoAnn Chateau February 6, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Brilliant. Something I’d like to see in real life is families reading aloud for half an hour in the evening. The reading, listening, choosing which book to read, the sharing, participation, discussion would be memorable (and might advance critical thinking skills). :-)

Veronique February 6, 2018 at 3:59 pm

You most certainly are NOT alone!

Susan February 6, 2018 at 6:30 pm

YES! I agree! A few months ago I had to start leaving my phone out of my bedroom because I would catch up on all the “news” before bed, leaving myself unable to sleep. Now I’m at the point where I’m going to have to leave it in the kitchen, because I find myself picking it up while I’m watching TV. I love the idea of the computer in the basement – I think I’ll have to do that next.

marian February 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Nope, not alone. I still don’t have a smart phone because I don’t want to have a computer with me all the time. I dread the day they take flip phones away completely.

As you say, computers should be amazing tools for us to use consciously, not things that suck our focus, life, relationships, and everything else into them. How we use hardware is a great start to limiting things because we can manipulate physical things (like putting them in the basement) to increase intentionality. Going outside as much as possible without a device is another way to physically limit time online.

Once you’re on, though, the social media platforms are more insidious, for just the reasons you outline. For me, FB is helping with this by putting more ads in the newsfeed. Each ad is like a wakeup call reminding me that a lot of this content is not chosen by me and therefore not relevant to me. After I hit a few ads and memes and links that hold no interest for me, I tend to walk away. I am fortunate that this is the only social media I use and it has lost a lot of its attraction. I hope it remains as unappealing as it’s made itself!

David Cain February 13, 2018 at 3:16 pm

The ads are what have driven me away from instagram too. They came too many too quick, and now there are “suggested” accounts to follow too. Like you say it really demonstrates that the content isn’t what you’ve chosen, it’s what’s being chosen for you. Both FB and instagram have little value to me now, at least for idly browsing.

Cassie February 6, 2018 at 8:46 pm

OMG you are so not alone. NOT.ALONE. I’m right there with you and about to take a long leave of absence from social media. I’ve already scaled way back but I’m about to turbo charge that scaling.

“Twenty-some years later, the internet seems present in almost every room, vehicle and public space—and I want that old feeling back. I want life to once again feel like it takes place in an immediate, local, physical world.” <————– me too! I want that feeling back too!

Nathan Nelson February 7, 2018 at 12:46 pm

You’re not alone.

Marc Gaudioso February 7, 2018 at 5:49 pm

I’ve been thinking about this since the first Depth Year article. I was on a break from work and at home with the family. I decided to check the internet once a day and avoid social media all together, and was amazed how much more I got done around the house, and how much more available I was for my kids. When I went back to work, where the internet calls for micro-breaks throughout the day, I set some ground rules. I check sites once a day, for no more than 20 mins, and I don’t go to redundant sites. So I only go to one news site, one sports site, etc. I haven’t become a whole new person, but I am starting to feel like I have a little more time and focus, which makes me want to keep the experiment going.

Tina February 7, 2018 at 9:10 pm

Ahh a kindred spirit! I feel like the majority of my colleagues and friends think of me as an alien when I explain my reasons to deactivate my Facebook/Instagram accounts, not check work email on vacation and at night and so on. I try to lead by example in my life and if I allow for these technology interruptions into my personal time when will it end? Out of pure spite I also don’t want to be on any platform that our horrible Chump uses daily to make our country great again.

miss agnes February 8, 2018 at 2:58 am

http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/02/07/tucker-carlson-creepy-google-patents-reveal-extent-control-tech-companies-seek
Interesting news about Google tech plans, and you’re not the only one raising the alarm about what is going on in the social media world. We have made our teenage kids well aware of how everything that is published on the Internet remains forever, and they are very careful.

Kit February 8, 2018 at 6:47 am

Amen and thanks! At work and at home, I’ve often had people complain that they “couldn’t reach me.” Ha! By design. I do not wish to be at everyone’s beck and call. At home, my phone remains in my purse hanging on a hook in the kitchen. I might check it as I walk past but I certainly don’t need it on my person all the time. I check my e-mail at the beginning and ending of the day. Recently retired, I am back to working at my art full time. No phone. No internet. No mindless angst about who is tweeting what. I am living my life, not watching other people live theirs. As I used to tell my children, go outside and play!

rachel February 8, 2018 at 10:38 am

You’re not alone (even when you’re on the toilet….)

Anne February 9, 2018 at 2:25 am

I commented earlier in the week, but this article has stayed with me and made me even more aware of my Internet use and its effects. I’ve decided to try being very clear as to whether I’m on or offline – in the basement or using the rest of the house, to use your image. So at my specified times of day I’m online – go down those basement steps and look at email, FB and anything else I need/want to check. The rest of the time I’m offline – no quick checks of the phone or iPad; if I’ve got 5 minutes to spare I pick up a book or do a chore rather than while it away online. The first two days of this have been a revelation – i feel much more focused and am getting more done. I’m also consciously enjoying my time interacting with friends online much more because it’s limited to specific sessions. Next is a thorough weeding of FB friends, groups and pages. I’m staying on there because it’s not all bad – it’s the best way I’ve found to stay in touch with friends in other countries – but I need to minimise the crap I have to scroll past.

David Cain February 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm

The “quick check” is a danger explicitly identified by Cal Newport in his book Deep Work. It feels like it only costs us seconds at a time, but in reality it’s hugely disruptive to our focus, especially at work, and it prevents us from having clear boundaries between online and offline.

KG February 9, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Great article. I know this is a HUGE issue for many people. Fortunately I’m not one of them. However, I have other favorite distractions and the effect is very similar.

Aimee February 9, 2018 at 7:13 pm

My life has changed since I disabled notifications for email on my phone. For a while I had texts disabled as well, and many people stopped texting me when they couldn’t get an instant reply. It definitely cut off junkie addictive phone checking on my part.

Musacc February 9, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Wow great thoughts. I used to run a “Wildcat” BBS in the early 90s. I added a phone line so 2 users could connect at the same time and we would have a 3 way chat! It was monumental at the time! Ha

Christine February 10, 2018 at 1:56 am

Thank you for a fantastic article. When I finished it, I deleted FB from my phone and only go on FB once a week if that to check if there are any messages…will bring that to once a month..

Christine

Shane McLean February 10, 2018 at 7:52 pm

David, I really love your stuff. It’s thoughtful, insightful and raw. It’s one of the best blogs I’ve come across. keep up the great work.

Eugene February 11, 2018 at 1:50 am

David, you’re definitely not alone. There’s a recent Wired.com article talking about the same Internet fatigue and what we can do about it: http://bit.ly/2nU0eve

Nick A February 11, 2018 at 2:30 am

Great article. I had 10 days without access to the computer or tv at home and it was great. Recently went back to it and trying to go back offline. I spend enough time on the computer at work – why carry on at home? TV – very few worthwhile programs on – time for another sabbatical!

Steve Brand February 11, 2018 at 6:06 am

I don’t think there’s tool’s fault in how one uses it. Blaming the Internet is like yelling at clouds. There’s an order to things, in our case dictated by the human craving for quicker gratification.

There’s a lot of clever people working day and night to ensure that we stare at our screens, at our apps as much as possible and return to them as often as possible. They’re not making the reality of things: they’re using it. We’re wired to chase quicker gratification.

I believe that if you want to make sure people lead healthier lives than chasing the social-media high — or what other kind of high the Internet and modern media promote — provides, you have to start with the people consuming it. The hammer is only as safe as the person wielding it.

I don’t deny that modern media are trying to become as addictive as they can afford. I propose, instead, that it’s on *us* to relinquish their grasp and help ourselves into healthier, more self-beneficial habits.

Steve Brand February 11, 2018 at 6:10 am

Leaving my first reply led me to the “Thank you for your comment” page, which has *two* “subscribe by mail” forms and a link to Raptitude’s Facebook page in the context of “it would be nice if you like it”.

Interesting: this from a post trying to persuade the reader to get off the Internet and enjoy real life. David, I’d like to hear your take on this.

Esther February 12, 2018 at 3:34 am

My thoughts exactly!

David Cain February 13, 2018 at 3:25 pm

I’m not sure why you would interpret this as an “internet is bad, stop using it” post. The question is about the decreasing intentionality and value of our internet use, even as the time we spend on it is increasing. I think this blog is worth reading… otherwise I wouldn’t write it.

Steve Brand February 19, 2018 at 10:23 am

David,

The “internet is bad, stop using it” was not my interpretation of the post. I recognize your motive: to relay to the reader the notion that the Internet is not all there is to the world, and that real life is much more enjoyable once the Internet takes only as much time as our use for it warrants. I agree with you.

Which is why such a push for an Internet promotion coming from your blog took me by surprise. I try to cast no shadow onto your writing: it is always insightful and promoting a more meaningful living. Sharing word about it, especially since you ostensibly believe it to be valuable, would be within reason. What I’m wondering about is how those two ideas — “the Internet is only a part of the real life, not it whole” and “attach yourself more to an Internet entity” — reconcile themselves in your head.

The reason I’m wondering so is — aggressive marketing does not seem to align well with mindful existence, at least in my head. Your writing is nothing *but* about mindfulness in all its forms. It doesn’t seem to align, at least to me — and I might be profoundly, thoroughly wrong about what I’m seeing.

This is me trying to find out if I am.

David Cain February 13, 2018 at 3:09 pm

I’m not really interested in assigning blame here, although there is a debate about how/whether we ought to hold companies responsible for the addictiveness and other health effects of their products (e.g. cigarettes). I’m more concerned with where the status quo of internet use is gone and whether I want to participate in what’s become normal internet use.

Steve Brand February 19, 2018 at 10:31 am

RE: “I’m more concerned with where the status quo of internet use is gone and whether I want to participate in what’s become normal internet use.”

Have you arrived to any conclusion in the meantime? I don’t mean to imply that you should have — merely looking into the subject matter more deeply.

Brian February 11, 2018 at 11:34 pm

You aren’t alone. somewhere in my website exists a calendar search service that shows how much time I spend working on projects for the internet.

Esther February 12, 2018 at 3:20 am

In my view, everyone should reflect on how they use the Internet and then decide what they want to do. As for me, I don’t think I’m going to put the Internet back in a box in the basement, but for some time now, I’ve been trying to reduce mindless scrolling and be more present in real life interactions and situations. And that fits me. Let’s try to reduce the downsides of this technology and make the most of the advantages. Have a beautiful day, everyone!

Eugene February 12, 2018 at 5:57 am

Here’s a Fast Company story about a guy who deliberately owns a ‘dumb’ phone: http://bit.ly/2EYmb3V

Kimberly Booth February 13, 2018 at 12:53 pm

no, you are not alone, I desperately yearn for a return to offline life!!!! please help us, please post more on this! I am not even that high of an online user, I am behind in most technological advances but I am sick of all the INCOMING info…. its too much!

Stubblejumpers Cafe February 15, 2018 at 2:00 pm

A lot of people are realizing the truth in exactly what you have just written. The internet and our smartphones (and TV, don’t forget TV) are all great tools … when we control our use of them and discipline ourselves. I’ve begun to do so after the past 20 years of sprinting to my computer the moment I’m free, and wasting a lot of time there, and thinking I was living. No I wasn’t. I was looking for something I already had, and not finding it. This morning I wrote a post about the same subject, at heart. Not as detailed as your post and without the hopes for a different future, but … you and me and many of us are on the same page in this regard. We’re starting to wake up. -Kate in Saskatchewan

Shari February 15, 2018 at 5:41 pm

I do social media as part of my job, and I’m on-call 24/7. I’m accessible at all times. It has helped take the mindless joy out of social platforms and the vast, endless internet. I rarely look at my phone for enjoyment anymore…and, strangely, I think it’s helped make me less of a slave to the internet and social media. I wonder, have you felt something similar as a writer who uses social media as a tool for your work?

Sam February 17, 2018 at 8:31 pm

Facebook is like a dead zone in the collective psyche of the human race. At least that’s how I’m feeling about it now. But it still has me hooked by the number of really important people in my life I want to stay in touch with – and that just seems like the medium a lot of people use. But I need one to two week breaks from it,

However, there’s apps I use that help me interact with the world in useful ways – mostly gps apps for off trail navigation and getting coordinates . elevation, astronomical apps, compasses, also apps for the arts, like the bandcamp app, which helps me keep on top of new music.

but yeah – everything in moderation, including moderation : )

Nihal Alıcı February 20, 2018 at 9:00 am

You are definitely not alone.
But what about kids? They are not grown enough to self control.
I wish there was a way to help them about it as well.

chris February 21, 2018 at 4:58 am

Dear David,

you are def not alone with this view. Whenever I spend time with my smartphone checking apps like insta, fb or whatsapp it makes my brain feel like jibberish. To my mind the way you consume content is very comparable with how you eat your food. Think of quickly consuming fastfood or taking your time to sit down and cook your own food at home. To me there is also “fast content” when you consume content via social media apps OR taking your time to read a book just as the comparison with food. Reading a book is way more fulfilling to me and my mind. Let’s invest more time in the simple things in our lives and don’t let the internet waste our time!

Lisa February 22, 2018 at 5:42 pm

Thank you for this thoughtful essay. So many of us seem to be exploring ways of limiting the negative effects of the internet while still making the most of the powerful tool that it is. I really enjoy the “Note to Self” podcast on topics related to this, and I find this: https://chris.bolin.co/offline to be a fantastic experiment.

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