In 2012, I left the internet for a year. Between May 2012 and May 2013, I did not use the Internet or ask people to use the Internet for me. To make it more difficult, I did not use text messages either.
In short, I wanted to discover how many of my problems in life (lack of productivity, constant distraction, a sense that ran as fast as I could to keep up) were the fault of the Internet, and how many of those problems were just my own inherent flaws .
Spoiler: it was mostly just me.
But if you've been following all of Facebook's recent drama or can not stand the culture of Twitter's speech or if you feel that Instagram's algorithm is detrimental to your well-being and you've decided that you need to make a statement for leaving something, you might offer some advice .
You are queuing up You're sitting by poop. You are waiting for the train. You just got up. You are about to go to sleep. You are waiting for a commercial break to end. It is not even a commercial break; You only have anxiety. You're bored during a conversation. You are not bored during a conversation; I just wanted to check something very fast.
You take out your phone for any reason.
Which application do you open? And because?
The first question is easy: for me, personally, it's Twitter. For many other people, it's Instagram or Facebook.
But the question "why" is more difficult to answer. There is a big Why did you press that button? episode that explores how application developers try to create a reward loop to encourage you to keep visiting. For example, I check Twitter because someone could have read one of my articles and I liked it. Or, at least, someone might have liked one of my tweets or followed me or retweeted me. I'm looking for praise.
What is a disaster is that I can check Twitter, see nothing new, put my phone in my pocket, and 15 seconds later, I'm going to take my phone one more time to watch Twitter again. He's a little sick, to be honest.
So, let's say that Facebook is your preferred application. And I'm just going to assume you're as hooked as I am. What will you do every 15 seconds with your thumbs if you leave it?
I will humbly suggest, based on personal experience, that you prove boredom.
Boredom is something complicated. And most people are desperate to avoid it. It turns out that smartphones full of social networking applications are a great antidote.
But if you choose to replace your go-to application, whatever it is, with nothing, you can overcome the discomfort of boredom and you can find something great on the other side.
Boredom is a dissatisfaction with what you are doing. If you allow yourself to get bored just a little, you can use that free brainpower to decide what you really want to do. Likewise, what will make you feel good in the long term, instead of what will make you feel good for the next 15 seconds.
You can use boredom as an alert that you might be living life on autopilot, instead of doing what is really important to you.
Boredom was seriously one of the best parts of my year without the Internet. Eventually I discovered new ways to waste time and fill the emptiness of boredom, and that kind of ruined things. But during some glorious months in 2012, boredom was my guide to make shit and live well.
Without Facebook, or your own social network of choice, it is very easy to not only be alone but to feel really alone.
The solution is simple: reach people. Ask people to come together. Talk to people by phone. Send a text message and respond to text messages instead of ignoring them. Express concern and interest in other people's lives with words instead of just I like, favorites and reaction emoji.
It's a joke. I mean, I think doing those things is the right antidote to loneliness. But loneliness, both subjective feeling and objective reality, never seems so simple to solve.
When I was off the Internet, I had some of my best interpersonal successes in life. People said he was "intense" to talk because he was so distracted. I got to know my family members and some close friends better than ever.
But at the same time, I lost friends and ended up very lonely.
What's up with that?
Well, let's be honest with ourselves. The Internet is where people are. If your friends are heavy users of Facebook and you leave Facebook, it's as if your friends frequent a certain bar and you stop going there.
When I was off the Internet, I did not have big explosions or falls with my friends. I got a little disoriented with them.
Here is an example: let's say a great new movie is coming out. It's called Super Cape People. When the trailer arrives, maybe one of your friends shares it on Facebook with a comment: "Omg, I can not wait for this." Some of your other friends with similar tastes make noise. Maybe a dozen other conversations on social networks sprout. during the next six months. By the time the movie comes out, you're pretty sure who you know who wants to see this movie. Maybe you're even in a group of Facebook Messenger friends who are obsessed with the Super Cape franchise.
But even if you only make midnight projection plans on a simple old text message, you have the whole context of social networks to know who to include. He also knows that his friend Jeff is on vacation, so maybe everyone agrees to wait two days to see him with Jeff.
Without social networks, you can not pass on your interests and availability to your friends. You have to do it in pieces. You have to go out with other people or talk to them on the phone or at least send them a text message to let them know that you love all the things in Super Cape and make it clear that you will be crushed if your friends see it without you.
And what happens if your friends do not like phone calls? And what happens if they forget that they quit Facebook when they send an invitation to the party? What if your designated link to all Facebook dramas gets tired of being your social media sherpa?
After a while, if enough parties are missed and enough outings of groups of friends are absent, your friends may assume that you are not interested.
Sadly, I'm speaking from experience. I'm not trying to scare you so you do not leave Facebook. I'm just telling you that you should be very proactive to keep in touch with the people you care about.
I was not, and it stunk.
Changing the world
Of course, your friends are not the only people who use the Internet. The Internet is a wonderful megaphone. You can talk to anyone or everyone. If you are very popular on Instagram and leave Instagram, you are silencing your loudest voice. You are limiting your reach. It almost feels like self-censorship. You start to protest against Facebook, but you're just hurting yourself, right?
I do not know. Maybe. This is complicated
When I was off the Internet, I started a band. While I've always been interested in music, and I've been in bands before, there was some freedom to be off the internet, in terms of creativity. I stopped comparing myself to the best possible version of what I was doing. Instead, I asked myself: "Do I like this?" If I liked it, I did it. I did not feel silenced; I felt free.
This has also been releasing in other parts of my life. When I compared myself with everyone on the Internet, I was afraid of programming, mathematics, skateboarding, philosophy and fiction writing. For each of these activities, I could point to a million people better than me.
I doubt that this will be debilitating for everyone, but for a long time, I allowed these comparisons around the world to take me away from the things that interested me because I knew I could not be good to them.
I think the fear of "de-platforms" gives too much credit to Facebook and Twitter, and does not give enough credit to what is really valuable about their voice and their particular set of skills.
Just think: would you give him the option to use his words to encourage someone he loves or to win a debate on Twitter? Are your talents more valuable to your friends and family or to the global economy?
The virality of Twitter is famous for its engineering difficulty. Facebook makes you pay to really reach your "audience". Instagram will always work better for people who only show their most beautiful side.
But your friends love it when you sing in karaoke, no matter how you sound. And your mother does not bother you when you do not agree with her about politics. She could even change your opinion, or you could change hers.
The impact it can have on people close to you may be as great or greater than the impact it can have on the "world" through your voice on the Internet. Possibly not in quantity, but certainly in quality.
That makes sense?
Hey, I'm not saying you're going to crack. But you can go back to Facebook after a week, a month or a year. It may be in a moment of weakness, or it may be something you deliberately do after careful consideration of the pros and cons.
People ask me if I would consider leaving the Internet again. I always say "no way". It's not that I regret my year off the internet. I just feel that I learned the lessons I needed to learn, and the immense positive aspects of the Internet, even the rare and frightening places like Facebook, overcome the disadvantages.
One thing that I always tell people, and it's something I wish I had done better when put into practice, is "keep it small."
It's a reference to Fahrenheit 451, which is a book I read when I was off the internet, but now it's also a fashionable cultural reference because it's a Michael B. Jordan movie.
In the science fiction world of Fahrenheit 451, they all have these immersive TV rooms. Each wall of the room is a screen. And then they watch television all the time. It sounds pretty fun, to be honest.
But, also, they burn books. Then something is not right with this society.
When the protagonist meets a collector of out-of-law books, he is surprised to discover that the collector has a television set. It is hidden behind an image frame.
"I like to keep it small," explains the collector.
The fact that you use Facebook does not mean that you should dominate your life. There are ways to "keep it small". You can reduce Facebook's ability to collect data about you. You can remove the application from your phone. You can block its use during certain times of the day. Despite the enormous efforts of internet giants to influence their lives and control their behavior, they have not yet won. You still have some power in this relationship.
In short: the burning of books is wrong, Michal B. Jordan is possibly my favorite actor on the planet, and if someone wants to see his new movie with me, it will be released in May on HBO, so let's start planning this party now. I'll bring the chips and maybe some drinks. Respond to this invitation even if you can not do it. Thank you! I see you there.