Why I'm Quitting the Internet

Most people tend to be creatures of habit. Things we do today are probably the same as the things we did yesterday, and they’re probably the same as the things we’ll do tomorrow.

This kind of consistency can be very important to us. Our days would be much tougher if every day were different. Doing things the same way day-after-day gives us stability, and lessens chaos.

But on the flipside, our habits can work against us as well. Sometimes we end up doing things for no other reason than they’re the way we’ve always done them. We don’t think about what we’re doing. We don’t question whether there’s another way to do things, or whether we even need to do what we’re doing. We become intellectually lazy.

What’s more habitual for us than the Internet? How often do we login to Facebook or go to some other website simply because it’s what we always do? The habitual nature of the Internet is the reason smart phones exist. How often have you seen someone on their phone finish doing whatever they were doing, put the phone down, and then pick it right back up thirty seconds later?

Did anything change on their phone in that thirty seconds? Probably not. Yet they refresh Facebook or Instagram or whatever else and look at the screen as if they expect to find something new. Instead it looks almost exactly like it did the last time they looked at it.

They’re staring at their phone because they always stare at their phone. It’s habit.

And that’s why I’m quitting the Internet. To break the habit. To make myself think about what I’m doing. To make conscious choices instead of letting minutes, hours or days slip by without thinking about what I’m doing.

We’ve come to accept that the Internet it so ingrained in our daily lives that we cannot do without it. I suppose that might be true to some extent. And by doing without the Internet I’ll discover the extent to which it has become ingrained in my life.

How much of my Internet usage is because I have to use the Internet, and how much is because I used the Internet yesterday?

Here’s what I have in mind.

2807100863_6b4b73964f_o2Beginning at noon, on Monday, November 9, 2015, I’ll do without the Internet as much as possible until January 1, 2016. However, since the Internet is ingrained in our lives to a certain extent, I must make exceptions.

First, I’ll use it for anything required for my work. I’d prefer not to become unemployed as a result of this experiment, and if I say, “Sorry, Boss Guy, but I can’t do my job because I’m trying to do without the Internet,” I don’t think it’d go too well.

Also, I’ll use it for any personal wellness need. I don’t want to tell my family or myself that I can’t be helpful in a time of need because I’m not using the Internet.

I'll use it for e-mail, and personal communication with my immediate family.

I’ll also use library websites to find books to read, bill payment and banking websites so my creditors don’t get angry at me (I don’t think they’d understand), and the NORAD Santa tracker on Christmas Eve. I’ve gone back and forth on whether to use it to buy Christmas and birthday presents, and I’m still undecided. I’m leaning toward using it just so my loved ones aren’t punished as a result of this exercise, but I’m still thinking about it.

Other than that, I’ll do without. No Facebook. No news, sports, entertainment, travel, or whatever other websites. No ChicagoNow, which means that I’m taking a break from this blog. This is the last post of the year. Look for me in January. I suspect my first post will be a status report on how it went doing without the Internet for almost two months.

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. I hope you hold up well over the next seven weeks or so.

Let me know what I miss. I’ll let you know whether I missed it or not. Unless life without the Internet ends up being too good to give up. Then maybe I’ll never return from the disconnected wilderness.

Oh the horror!

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