As you may know I took part of an experiment last December. An experiment to see wether or not you can live without the internet in modern society. And of course, you can. We’re not talking about living without food or water, however it seems that more and more people feel that a wireless internet connection is as important as running water.
But to function at work and in my personal life without the use of Internet, was quite a challenge. In fact, it was a big challenge for the people around me too.
In this article I would like to share my experience with you. These are just simple observations that I wrote down in an old fashion diary. Keywords for this article would be: attention, addiction, inspiration and relief.
The first week
This was the most exciting period. I got a lot of calls and warm (hand written) letters from people who heard about the experiment. To go “cold turkey” by cutting my digital lifeline over night was a funny feeling. Have you ever heard of phantom limb pain? There was something missing and all I could think about was just that.
Everytime I was writing a story or article my left hand seemed to have a mind on it’s own and tried to push ALT TAB after every paragraph. That was my common behaviour when I was online, to see if there were any new emails. In many occasions I would wander off and open my RSS-reader or check out the most recent comments on blogs that I was following. But being offline made those actions completely irrelevant, so I had to go through with writing. Then I found myself walking to get a cup of coffee instead. It seemed that I was constantly looking for excuses to interrupt my work. Only later this month I could concentrate better and finish the document before I sought the interruption.
The second week wasn’t fun at all. I felt alone, literaly disconnected from the network. The information junky in me missed the juice, the constant stream of information that I used to get from blogs, email and twitter. Another part of me missed the online friendships. The fun we have on Twitter or the arguments we exchange in blogpostings.
Further more, being offline really sucks. Simple things take the most time. Looking up telephone numbers for example, or just simple fact checking. I found myself printing word documents and driving 2 hours in my car just to deliver them the same day.
But then in the third week I experienced an immens feeling of peace of mind. I had tons of energy and have never been more productive than in that single week. Obviously it took 3 weeks to get used to the fact that I didn’t have that much distraction as I would normally have. I had so much attention for my work, but also for the people around me. Conversations simply felt better and went deeper. At this stage I decided that I would write articles and give presentations about the fact that people rarely think about their own digital communication.
And in the last week I was torn apart. Because I knew that I was going to step back into that exploding digital world, but I wanted to keep this quietness and the ability to focus on one thing at a time. My conclusion at this point was life without the internet sucks, but without email is a blessing.
So, if you consider November to be “black” and December to be “white”… all I had to do was to figure out how I could paint January in a new tint of gray. I’ll keep you posted of how I’m doing!