We’re going on vacation next week (more on that later). I’ve found that whenever people go on vacation, they talk about “unplugging” – often literally. They try to leave their computer, or their cell phone or other devices, behind. I guess they’re trying to leave their email and the stress of their jobs behind. But when I travel, I NEVER want to be unconnected. Sure, call me an internet addict (it might even be true). But if I’m addicted to the internet, I’m not sure I want a cure. I honestly love how the internet connects me to friends and family, and provides me with entertainment and thoughtful discussion.
That’s why I found this so interesting – tech journalist Paul Miller went an entire year without the internet. He “thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it lacked meaning. I thought it was ‘corrupting my soul.’ ”
The results were surprising. A year is a very long time – I’m sure Miller’s experiment would be much different if he had only gone without internet for a week or a month. At first, he thought it would be easy, and he’d have lots of time to write and read. But then he started filling that time playing video games and feeling a bit bored, depressed, and listless. He realized that the internet wasn’t causing problems in him – those problems were there all along. His feelings of loneliness, boredom, depression, isolation… they didn’t disappear when the internet disappeared. Miller said that without the internet, he “felt out of sync with the flow of life”. In the end, to respond to his own theory that internet was making him unproductive and that it lacked meaning, he says, “I was wrong.”
I encourage you to watch the 15 minute film entitled Finding Paul Miller, and read his piece. And then ask yourself if you could do what he did. I’m not sure I would want to, to be honest. Fascinating.
[image of Paul Miller by Michael B. Shane via The Verge]