Scientific Research & Self-Development Activism
I'm coming out of a one year long experiment where I lived with as little contact with the Internet as was humanly possible for a year. Actually to be fair, I lived without Internet and Television. I had a lot of reasons for doing this, some personal, some financial, but it was a great opportunity to see how I would cope with solving problems, entertaining myself, and keeping in touch with friends without the World Wide Web.
Now that the experiment is over, (and the other reasons for isolating myself are over) I'm looking forward to Comcast installing our cable connection tomorrow morning. I've got a lot of catching up to do! But, the question I want to pose is this: "Does the Internet stunt our growth sometimes?"
One of the biggest changes I noticed during my "dark period" without the web was that I interacted with my family much more often than before. I was forced to communicate with people face-to-face much more often to entertain myself, solve problems, etc. Can I say that this forced me to grow? Well I can say for sure that it forced me to learn how to cope with conflict better. People by nature come into conflict from time to time, and the way we deal with conflict on the Internet tends to be very different from how we would deal with it in person. On the Internet we can be as cold and brutal as we want and we don't feel very bad about it because we never see the faces of the people that we are talking to. In person, we tend to be much more political and tempered in our responses.
The biggest reason I always ran to the Internet was to avoid any form of conflict that could actually hurt me. Debates that took place online had an almost clinical sterility to them which made them feel safe to me. The problem with the approach that I've been taking though, is that online relationships and community are not rewarding in the same way that face-to-face community is. While I definitely appreciate my I-Power friends and family, there is a limit to what they can offer me in terms of comfort and friendship. I've enjoyed my time re-learning my parents and siblings. I've enjoyed becoming more en-tuned with my wife.
Have you ever unplugged for an extended period of time?
What were the results?
I know after my experience, I think we all need to unplug from time to time. :)
Sometimes a day is all it really takes. A week will be a great experience for you though. You'll go through a few more phases in a week than you do in a day. Overall I'd say it's a very rewarding experience and I still plan on taking little one day "breaks" from technology like you mentioned, from time to time.
When I was quite young I lived a whole summer without electricity, living in a small house in the alps. No phone, no internet, no radio, no television, nothing.
And it was a GREAT time. I planned to stay that way for 2 weeks, and actually stayed there for the whole summer. When I came back to "civilisation" it was a quite disturbing experience, because everything was so loud and stressful.
Now, from time to time, I spend a week or two out in the woods. Nature. Camping, stuff like that. No phone, no computer etc. And everytime I feel quite good and have a great time. I wouldn't want to live without internet forever, but for a few days from time to time it's pretty great. It reminds you of what's truly important. That you could live with so much less stuff, so much less technical luxury.
No one NEEDS the internet. But we tend to believe that sometimes, believe, that we depend on it. Bullshit I say :) It's luxury. Practical, very useful luxury that can help a lot. But not necessary to live a happy life or maintain social bonds.
That is really awesome. I think that would be the next logical step in my experiment someday. I've only ever gone without electricity for a couple of weeks at a time. Each time I did I would go through a couple of phases:
I always ended up enjoying the peace and quiet in the end, but at first it was a little like quitting smoking or some other drug. Almost like detoxing myself from all the tech. :)
Life would not be worth living without the internet.
I would just ask somebody to kill me and get it over with. XD
Have you ever unplugged for an extended period of time? Why?
Only when I was forced to do so because I had no money; or no home.
What were the results?
I got drunk a lot. lol
I'm not sure if this relates, but I did get drunk a lot more often the first few months :P Do you go into seizures or anything?? LOL In all seriousness, I'm not ready to do it again either.
Addendum: We had two major storms blow through my State last weekend which caused almost a million people in this area to be without electricity for over 3 days. I was personally without power for 4 days; and others around here had to suffer longer than that. No electricity, at all, means you lose everything, and not just the internet. No lights. No refrigeration or ice. No air conditioning. No gasoline pumps. No traffic lights. Most businesses close; and the stores that do manage to open sell out of almost everything right away. Government offices and Courthouses shut down. Everything grinds to a halt -- and fast. It was like being thrown back into the Stone-Age, and needless to say, I thought I was going to die. LOL
Gotta embrace new changes in what it means to be human, IMO.. but this goes as far into redefining who I am. The Internet has enabled me in so many ways. But yeah there are psychological effects, which should really be put into a manual that you get with your internet connection.. maybe.
I've been "unplugged" for a month about 4 years ago, by walking from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostella in Spain .
There was no real reason for me, but it was my father's dream to do this. Since he didn't want to go alone on this journey and I just turned 18 and had a lot of spare time during summer, I set out with him.
While walking you have a lot of time to reflect, since the only thing you need to worry about is a place to sleep at the end of the day. In the beginning I was mainly thinking about what I
would be doing at home or what I was going to study the next school-year. After a while I left all that behind and my mind focused on everything around me in that point of time. That is something I don't do very often, mostly I'm just focused on doing one thing/task and forget everything else around me. It also confirmed what I thought about myself, that I'm very shy person. It is something I've always struggled with, I never actively seek social contact, which became more apparent in this situation. My dad was the one who always started the conversations with fellow travellers, I never took any initiative. What I also noticed is that I can quickly adapt to a new situation, but that is maybe something common to the human race. Furthermore I lost all my interest in what was going on in the media, no more wondering who won Roland Garros or what disaster happened. It even went as far as not asking how things were when we phoned home.
The most important thing I took away from this journey was to have/make time to simply do “nothing” and reflect because it so easy to get dragged away in this “predefined” life.
Sounds like you had a little journey of self discovery there. I've always wondered what it would be like to walk cross country. I'll bet it was quite an experience. Did you guys sleep outdoors during your trip? What kind of gear did you take with you? What was the hardest part?
We walked on the Camino Frances which is an old pilgrimage route (Wiki). I come from a catholic family but I don’t consider myself one, although I have much respect for religion and picked up a lot of moral values from the parables in the bible. I don’t think my father was drawn to do this because of religion but rather out of curiosity and wanting a break from everyday life. It’s still actively used and you have one or more refuges in every village you pass. It’s a large room with beds inside and a place to shower. They are mostly run by the local community, church or people who walked the Camino. We never forcibly slept outside, but sometimes it was just to hot inside that we lay outside for a few hours. The gear wasn’t that impressive, a good backpack with some clothes, stuff for personal hygiene, a sleeping bag and a little mattress. Of course you need good shoos and nicely fitting clothes. We send some of the clothes back home, essentially we only needed everything twice since we washed them every afternoon. I didn’t find it hard to switch to that way of living. You would be surprised how fast you can adjust to it. After a few days it becomes routine like most things in life. You get up at 7 a.m., start packing your backpack, search for a place where you can get a breakfast and hit the road. What annoyed me the most was the fact that you had to sleep on a mattress where some hundred other people had already slept on. It easily transfers all kind of unpleasant diseases and I ended up having bedbugs, which gave me an annoying rash. The mentally hardest part was adjusting to “Real life” again. This was especially true for my father not so much for me, he still mentions that trip a lot and had a hard time going back to work afterwards.
I rarely watch television, so that might be the way I'm unplugged. I believe that a lot of people get led by their thoughts to start thinking too much about their life situation with all the commercials, drama and all that.
I don't really see how not being on the computer or surfing the internet could make me grow, change or similar. The internet has some many thinks to explore that it would be sad not to use. We just need not to get too driven away by it. Taking breaks and eventually go outside or just only looking away from the screen from time to time, or not.. I don't really care.
I just recently cut back on watching TV / Gaming, not because I thought it influenced me to much (not denying that it probably did) but because I just didn’t have anything to replace it with until then. Don’t get me wrong I think televisions is a fantastic invention, but not in its current state with all the publicity, propaganda, endless reality shows and retransmissions (not sure this is the correct term; also made me think about: God Bless America) .
I agree with you that the internet is indeed a way more interesting place to spend your spare time. I found myself some more critical and non-commercial online news stations which report on the things that interest me. It also gave me time to read up on topics that have always interested me but that I never made time for (it’s so easy to press that power button on the remote).
I find myself now in a position that I can’t stop longing to know more and look for more opinions to create my own. This has helped me to get into more conversations and be more tolerant towards other people/opinions.
As for internet making you grow and change, it indeed offers you an enormous potential to grow and learn. But maybe letting go of all your habits and necessities makes you grow as well. You only find that out by doing it and if it didn’t help, well you found a way how not to grow/change yourself.