Brilliant, Joe! Cheers to you from a fellow internet-less, social web loser (in that I “lost” it 2 years ago, by choice, only to pick it back up to “reconnect” a couple weeks ago, and I’m already feeling the push/pull of the addict).
While I understand everyone’s beguiled comments and amazement at the thought of letting go of online “connection,” I gotta put in my $2 worth of data here, and holla with my hands up to you — being offline is absolutely worth the “cost” of not knowing what’s “going on.”
I know. I’m doing it, too (most days).
Amazingly, your article found its way into my email inbox as a suggestion from Medium. You gave me a nudge, a little elbow-poke in the side that I needed — your article was a gentle morning-reminder to hop-on, do what I gotta do, and hop-off. By choice.
If you ever get to read my response, know that you are definitely not alone. In fact, there are way more humans on this planet without internet than there are with.
Western-eyes are skewed to a norm that is simply anything but. That is something I quickly learned as I traveled outside the reaches of the www.
When I left the US, I chose radio-silence. Partly because internet was slug-slow wherever I traveled (which created unnecessary internal frustration), and partly because I needed to cut myself off, cold-turkey (for my greater good).
I stopped buying new tech. I started seeing it all as just pieces of glass, metal, and plastic that are abused and wasted (as are the people who manufacture and construct these convenience-materials).
Not to mention Coltan, the required mineral inside every device which allows it to “connect.” The mass addiction to devices and internet in the west causes mass human suffering of absolutely beautiful people in areas of our planet that westerners have been trained to ignore. Don’t be afraid to click those links — or Google it.
That, to me, is a sickness needing to be purged. Saul Williams is one of the few folks shedding light on the distructive impact of “connecting,” using his vocal-art to illustrate unasked questions in “Coltan as Cotton.” The rest of the world, prefers to remain silent about Coltan slavery while tweeting about whathaveyou nonsense.
(I just noticed the symbolic closeness of the words ‘vice’ and ‘device.)
At first, I felt a bit ashamed that I “couldn’t” just dump all of my tech in the Amazon River (I’m still clinging to my Coltan-filled 2nd Gen iPad and iPhone 4 to get me by as I slow-travel). I feared the fishes wouldn’t appreciate that move— better to just hang onto these things for now, I thought, I might need them someday (and here I am, putting them to use, crafting this response).
At the same time, I was so proud of my ability to put these things down and get connected for real — with humans who don’t need to tap their thoughts on glass to communicate — with folks who feel each other, face to face.
I wanted to feel that, too. And I have! There’s a deeper connection hiding inside all of us that is more vast and farther reaching than any tech will ever be.
There is more commonality than difference among us humans.
But I’ve also come to accept a sad fact — until I find some farmland somewhere, and settle down with a few alpaca and a handful of veggies in the ground — being online is the only way to “get along” with others and create currency in my “birth culture.” Lost is the ability to connect without “connecting.”
I say it’s a sad fact, as I wish more “westerners” would give up “conveniences” willingly — ditch the feed line completely (be it internet, grocery, news, or otherwise) — for it is the only way to view a wider angle of our world.
At least, I find that to be personally true for me, and I’m not trying to tell others what they should/shouldn’t do (we all have a choice and free will).
I am strongly encouraging anyone out there who is curious, who is fed up and ready to think outside the computer-box — do it! No regrets!
In fact, I just sent out a huge email newsletter to every old email address I had in my contact list, in an attempt to explain to all my lovely-ones, why I had been radio-silent, where I had been for 2+ years, and why I am “reconnecting” now.
Not that my lovely-ones needed or demanded an explanation, they all fully understood, it’s just how I am — my rebel contrarian nature — but I needed to explain it to a loving audience for my own reflective health.
Kinda like a routine check-up, to make sure that the incisions from the invasive surgery that removed my diseased internet-organ had successfully healed (they have).
I reflected to my lovely-ones on my choice for radio-silence, I still prefer radio-silence, and I’m currently online about 30% of the time (which already feels like too much).
Not sending every picture I took. Not blogging about the quality of my stay here or there. Not tweeting 140 characters.
Purposefully neglecting the www. Purposefully looking inside myself. Purposefully absorbing the bliss and smiles of folks who never had an internet organ installed to begin with (the lucky-ones).
In ditching the webs, I opened up space within me to explore myself — to ponder, wonder, imagine, create, dream, write… all those lovely things that were previously fed to me by www marketers.
My recent reflection showed me that I wasn’t actually addicted to “tech” and being online/connected. I was addicted to the concept of distraction. I didn’t want to be alone with myself — but being alone with me was the only way to clear space and find true connection with others.
Perhaps others feel the same. Life is beautiful, without distraction.