How Do I Get Back Online On My Phone
How Do I Get Back Online On My Phone – A year ago I quit the internet. I thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it didn’t make sense. I thought it was “ruining my soul”.
It’s been a year since I’ve “browsed the web” or “checked my email” or “liked” something decorative instead of a literal thumbs up. I was able to stay apart as planned. I am free online.
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And now I am supposed to tell you how to solve all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “realistic” now. more perfect
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But instead it was 8pm and I had just woken up. I slept all day, and woke up to eight voicemails on my phone from my friends and colleagues. I went to my coffee shop for dinner, a Knicks game, my newspaper, a copy of it
I sometimes look at the blurry cursor in this text document, wishing for it to write itself, and to create what my life has failed to create.
In early 2012, I was 26 years old and exhausted. I wanted a break from modern life – the hamster wheel in an email inbox, the constant flood of WW information flooding my mind. I wanted to escape.
I thought the internet might be an unnatural state for us as humans, or at least for me. Maybe I just couldn’t handle it, or I was too emotional to limit my use. I have been using the internet constantly since I was twelve, and for a living since I was fourteen. I went from paper boy to web designer to tech writer in less than a decade. I wouldn’t know myself without the omnipresent sense of connection and endless information. I thought what is there in life. Perhaps “real life” was waiting for me on the other end of the web browser.
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My plan was to quit my job, go home with my parents, read books, write books and take my free time. With a glorious gesture I overcame every crisis in life that came my way. I will find the real Paul, away from all the noise, and become better than I was.
Make me leave the internet. I could live in New York and share my findings with the world, message the netizens I left behind about my internet-free life, and sprinkle wisdom on them from my high tower.
My goal, as a technical writer, is to discover what the Internet has done to me over the years. To understand the Internet through its “distance” studies. I will not only become a better person, I will help us all become better people. Once we understand how the Internet preys on us, we can finally respond.
On April 30, 2012 at 11:59 PM, I unplugged my ethernet cable, turned off my Wi-Fi, and replaced my smartphone with another one. It was a really good feeling. I feel free.
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Two weeks later, I found myself among 60,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews, flocking to Citi Field in New York to learn from one of the world’s most respected rabbis about the dangers of the Internet. Naturally. Outside the field, a man is waving at me in one of my own articles about leaving the Internet. He was excited to meet me. I choose to avoid the internet for many reasons that his religion warns against the modern world.
“It reprograms our relationships, our emotions, our sensibilities,” said one rabbi at the gathering. It drains our patience. Let the kids “click on the vegetables”.
My new friend outside the field encouraged me to make the most of the year, to “stop and smell the flowers.”
Stop and smell the flowers. My life has been full of serendipitous events: real-life meetings, Frisbee, cycling, and Greek literature. Without a clear idea of how to do it, I wrote half of my novel, turning it into an article almost every week
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I lost 15 pounds without really trying. I bought some new clothes. People keep telling me how good I look, and how happy I am. In one session, my therapist patted her on the back.
I was a little bored, a little lonely, but it seemed like a nice change of pace. “Boredom and lack of motivation drives me to do things I really love, like writing and spending time with others,” she wrote in August. I was sure I understood everything and told everyone the same.
It was difficult. I can now read 100 pages in one sitting, or hundreds if the prose is easy and I’m really interested.
I’ve learned to appreciate an idea that can’t be summed up in a blog post, but instead requires a novel-length presentation. Stepping away from the echo chamber of internet culture, I found my thoughts taking new directions. I felt different, a little weird, and I liked it.
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Without smartphone dip, I had to come out of my shell in difficult social situations. Without the constant distraction, I find that I am more aware of others in the moment. I no longer do all my interactions on Twitter; I had to find them in real life. My sister, who has dealt with the frustration of trying to talk to me because I’m half listener and half counting her whole life, now loves the way I talk. She says I’m less emotionally detached, and more concerned about her safety – basically less of a jerk.
It seemed then, in those first few months, that my guess was right. The internet kept me from my true self, Paul was good. I pulled the plug and found the light.
When I left the Internet I was hoping my journal entries would be something like, “I used a paper map today and it was fun!” or “Paper books? What are these!?” or “Does anyone have an offline version of Wikipedia I can borrow?” It didn’t happen.
For the most part, the practical aspects of the year passed without warning. I have no hard time navigating New York by feel, and I buy paper maps to go anywhere else. It turns out that paperback books are really cool. I’m not comparison shopping for plane tickets, I just call Delta and take what they give.
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In fact, most of what I’m learning can be done with or without an internet connection – you don’t need to use fast internet for a year to realize your sister has feelings.
But snail mail was a big change. I got a mailbox this year, and I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the box filled with letters from readers. This is something real, and difficult to simulate with an electronic card.
In a beautifully blank and adorable letter, one girl wrote on a piece of paper: “Thank you for leaving the internet.” Not as an insult, but as a compliment. This message means the world to me.
And then, for some reason, even going to the post office felt like work. I started to dread the messages and almost resent them.
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As it turns out, a few dozen messages a week can be as overwhelming as a hundred emails a day. And it went that way for most of my life. Reading a good book takes motivation, whether I have the Internet as an alternative or not. Getting out of the house to hang out with people took just as much courage as it had before.
In late 2012, I learned how to create a new pattern of wrong choices from the Internet. I gave up my positive offline habits and found new virtues offline. Instead of taking boredom and lack of motivation and turning them into learning and creativity, I focused on passive consumption and social decline.
A year later, I don’t ride my bike very often. Dust collects on my flying disc. Most weeks I don’t even go out with people. My favorite place is the sofa. I put my feet up on the coffee table, play a video game, and listen to an audiobook. I like a stray game, like
, and whatever else is in the game world my mind is on audiobooks, or maybe nothing.
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So moral choices are not much different without the Internet. Practical things like maps and offline shopping aren’t hard to get used to. People are still happy to point you in the right direction. But finding people without internet is definitely difficult. Making a phone call is harder than sending an email. It’s easier to text, Snapchat, or FaceTime someone than to go to their house. This does not mean that these obstacles are insurmountable. I beat them at first, but it didn’t last.
It is difficult to say exactly what has changed. I think those first months were good because I felt the absence of Internet pressure. My freedom seemed real. But when I stopped seeing my life in context
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