By now you’ve probably heard of Paul Miller, you know, the guy who went offline for an entire year. The Verge, his employer, paid him to do it and then report. Seemed like a good deal and he took it; besides, he had professed that he was burnt out and he needed a break. In fact, his original plans were to quit altogether.
So on April 30, 2012 he unplugged and went on an existential journey to learn more about himself. I read the article and watched the video the first day that it was posted. I kept the article close for the last 2 weeks as I’ve thought long and hard about his personal journey and how it impacted and changed his life. And it took me those 14 or 15 days to craft something even come close to that of a blog post.
But more importantly, I wondered if I needed to do what Paul did. I wondered if I needed to try living a life with less of the internet.
Like you, perhaps, I’ve spent most of my life online. Now that I come to think about it I have legitimately spent most of my life around the internet, making a comfortable living off of online technologies and writing for hundreds of websites, some that I created and many that compensated me for my words and time.
I’ve built neat things, started a handful of companies, made a lot of virtual acquaintances, and even had some of those people turn into real-life friends.
The internet became not only a playground but also part of my vocation. It’s simply an overwhelming part of who I am and what I do. To imagine, if even for a brief few moments, what it would be like to unplug for a full calendar year makes my heart literally skip a beat. I get nervous, tense, and have the sudden urge to go to the bathroom. The affect is so closely tied biologically it’s scary.
But it makes me wonder even more if it’s something that needs to be done. Not tomorrow, not next week, and not even this year, but sometime, someday, in the not-so-distant future.
I really like the internet. I hesitate to say that I “love” the internet because we apparently “love” everything, including the last ramen noodle soup I just had for lunch. I don’t really “love” it, I’m just saying that at that particular moment in that particular restaurant and at that particular point in time I’m really, really, really, digging this noodle soup.
And from what I gather the internet likes me enough to keep me happily busy and gainfully employed – it hasn’t rejected me yet and still doesn’t mind hearing from me once in a while and even entertaining some of the projects and products that my team creates for ready and willing customers.
I just wonder if it’s absolutely necessary that I and the internet are such close friends. I wonder if it’s time for a bit less of it. She won’t miss me and I’m sure I can get over the slight. Yes, I’m sure I could. I know I could.
[Read more of Paul’s journey here.]