Paul Miller disconnected from the Internet for one year and lived to write about it for The Verge (who paid for this online abstinence experiment).
Going in, Mr. Miller expected he would be brimming with wise insights into the human condition at the end of the ordeal. Alas, it was not to be. He admits he kept staring at the cursor on his screen, “willing it to generate the epiphanies my life has failed to produce”. His conclusion is pretty banal: the Internet is there to connect people, so life without it can be very lonely. The Internet is so inextricably tied into the fiber of our existence that we’ve stopped thinking about it as something external. As Mr. Miller puts it, “not to say that my life wasn’t different without the internet, just that it wasn’t real life.”
I didn’t go as far as disconnecting from the Internet, but seven months ago I deactivated my Facebook account. Although I am far from feeling that my life is any less “real” as a result, I can definitely relate to the “social disconnectedness” factor. When I joined Facebook I reconnected with people I have not been in touch with for years. Naturally most of them never became real friends again and remained as “Facebook friends”, but now that I have lost touch with them again I feel the void. I spoke with one of them yesterday on the phone and suddenly realized how much less I knew about what’s going on in her life now that I wasn’t following her updates online.
Time to reactivate my Facebook account? Hmmm…