i’ve read this article about internet burnout and how addicted we are to posting/checking our phones/FOMO (fear of missing out) and i relate a lot with the author’s story (except there’s no way i’ll have a unpaid sabbatical and i do not wish to spend time with my kids – maybe if i had them, in the first place), but i digress. the whole point here is what he achieved when being a year without internet. i think i could do it, although it would be painful, and i am not sure it’s an exaggeration.
i have been thinking a lot about logging off for a while, perhaps just keep writing here in this blog because it’s what keeps me sane at work (and, interestingly, most of the people that write about internet addiction work with the internet – people that can’t keep off work email even on vacations -, meanwhile i use the internet as means of escape – which i am sure are other people out there as well). i have lived without twitter, because at work i have no access and at home i always forgot to log in. i have deleted my facebook and although i still have a profile for professional matters, i am no longer interested in keeping up with posting photos on facebook – simply put: i am not even taking pictures anymore, especially ‘professionally’.
my use of whatsapp and instagram are very scarce. the first, because i can’t access wifi at work and i am too lazy to wait for my phone provider to connect me (i am also battery obsessed) and i can’t seem to understand the urgency of that app. which brings me to our old, internet free messaging app, plain text. there was a time that i would constantly check for the green light appearing, if i had a text or not, sometimes i would imagine the light was there even though my phone was right in front of me and i could see it not blinking. when i was walking, i would always take the phone out of my pocket to see if “maybe i got a text”. nowadays my phone is mostly on silent mode, even when i am home. i still don’t wait a lot to reply when i see a message, but that’s related to other types of anxiety – i wouldn’t wait to reply a letter, either.
instagram is just… a lucky guess when i will use it, to be honest. when it comes to email, i would say there is anxiety to check my inbox from time to time, especially when talking to friends or expecting a reply (some would argue this is constant, but i am not in touch with so many people), there’s also this wonderful tool called unroll.me that i highly recommend because it takes away all your subscriptions – from social media, publications, updates, etc., marks them as read and moves them to one folder, the unroll.me folder, where you can just see all of them at once. i realize now that i am deleting most of them, unsubscribing from things i didn’t even remember i was subscribed to, etc. this leaves your inbox clean, only with emails from people and not from newsletters/robots, unless you want to – for example, i can’t really function well without reading at least some articles from the ann friedman weekly [subscribe! you won’t regret it]. other things i have done to remove myself from the internet a little was: deleting a bunch of social media profiles and asking google to remove whatever results would come when searching for my name (it’s rather unique) and then removing my real name from all the profiles i did want to maintain.
but i have addictions internet related. and they are serious. i think they come together. my email archive tells me that the earliest mention to Google Reader is from 2010 (the tool was created in 2005 and discontinued in 2013 – RIP). my tumblr archive tells me my first post was in august, 2009. it all fits. i do think i started obsessing with updates as early as orkut communities, but it was with tumblr that i started visiting hundreds of blogs everyday. even if via tumblr’s dashboard, i was scrolling endlessly. google reader was just a way that i found to stop visiting and refreshing tumblr all the time and, instead, have those updates come to me – it’s how a rss reader works. it fascinated me to no end, because HOW COULD PEOPLE LIVE WITHOUT IT. you just log in and all the sites you like/want to read, are united and you only see the updates so you don’t have to, ever, enter a site and hope for new content – it’s also the reason i admire aaron swartz so much. anywho. i started adding my favorite tumblrs on google reader, and thus an obsession began.
nowadays, i have almost 600 website feeds to read, whenever there is an update (and some have more than 10 updates every 3 hours). almost 400 of them are from tumblrs. this gives me anxiety just writing it down, imagine having to log in every day and see at least 500+ posts waiting for you to read and update yourself. of course, as most sufferings, we do it to ourselves. my rationalization of it is: i have to stay updated (and also that i am used to it, that i have time to look through it at work). however, researches prove that the best way to be informed is not to refresh your twitter timeline as the events occur (or your reader), but rather to read a long article weeks (sometimes months) after it happened. and, even worst, most of the blogs i scroll pass are not exactly information, but very aesthetic pretty pictures or just plain funny ones (which is necessary to look at when you’re at work, let’s be honest). the problem is: i don’t look at all that content only when i’m at work. your mind/body behavior does not work according to ‘week days’ and ‘weekends’. i’ve come to the realization that everything is like a drug to us. we have our fixes and sometimes it overpowers you. fortunately, i have been analyzing the ones that i seem to not be able to get clean/cold turkey.
as that article that i mentioned earlier that caused this big rant says, there are always two kinds of tools: the ones that tell you to organize/don’t waste time (like unroll.me and google reader), and the spiritual ones, that propose meditation, mindfulness and ways to just disconnect and do something else. so… what to do about that second (and what i feel more important) method of taking some time off the internet? i have talked about this before, and ways to just not log in when i’m at home and such. i guess i have to stick with it. the self-control app is the most simple and forceful one (put a time frame and add websites you don’t want to visit, you are now prohibited from visiting said pages for said period of time, no matter if you restart your computer or not). but that’s not enough. because it’s the same as gastric bypass surgery: you’ll still have the hunger. there’s no surgery for your desires. so it’s deeper than that.
what i am talking about here it’s this recent feeling that i have that i don’t want to work with the internet. i love reading stuff. i love posting stuff. i love sharing stuff. i love writing stuff. i love commenting stuff, and sometimes, even liveblogging stuff. it seems preposterous, then, to say, that i’ve been hating the internet – or rather my relationship with it. but my idea of work, at the moment, does not involve sitting my ass in front of a computer. actually, it involves no sitting at all. at the moment, i’d like to use the internet only for fun, between 2 to 3 hours a day, instead of being in the core of my existence. i guess i finally overcame the journalist in me, at least the working journalist, the journalist that writes and researches and posts and tweets. like anything in life, i seem to admire the passion, but not enough to commit/surrender myself to it. i am a photographer, but i only take pictures sometimes and almost never share it. i consider myself a journalist, but i haven’t written anything news related in years. i am good at fast thinking but rather mechanical jobs (social media analysis; review/correcting errors) that demand focusing on details, but i am not dedicated enough to find any of it fulfilling. i am interested in translating, but i don’t have enough will to go after a decent certificate that enables me to actually get jobs. same thing with all other degrees (architecture, design, psychology, social sciences) i am interested in – i’d do it because i find it fascinating and they would make me more conscious about myself and the world, but it’s not necessarily about working with it.
to summarize: i can’t find the point of labor if it involves things i have interest in. i can’t add the money attachment and still enjoy it (photography; reading; writing; reviewing; translating). although there is a lot of things to think through, i believe that the only way for me to find that passion is to do something completely on my own and not necessarily rooted in something i love – like the ideas i have been having already. as one of my favorite movies from the beginning of the decade says: a leap of faith. and as i finish this, what appears in my rss updates? DON’T do what you love! with advice from Hayao Miyazaki himself! i call it synchronicity at its finest.
so here’s to doing business plans; investing my savings; research the competition; thinking of advertisement as something intelligent; being tuned with customer’s needs. here’s to doing all of that without having the slightest idea of what they mean and still being excited to learn them all. here’s to something different.