Experiment – Ten Days of No Internet (or TV, or radio…) – Unexpected Results
My initial reason for this ten day trial was simple. I had planned a week-long vacation to the mountains with my family in early August, and I wanted to see how much it would affect my online statistics if I stopped “marketing myself” for a while and relaxed for the first vacation in 5 years. Would I go into withdrawal from my internet addiction? Would I feel isolated from the world? Without working at it regularly, would my book sales plummet? Would my rankings dip? Would my WordPress statistics collapse? Would I regret giving up ten days of trying to inform people – of trying to get more people to understand that my research says there is very little normal time left?
Surprisingly, not so much. It was easily to mentally slip away and forget about how soon I expect enormous problems to engulf the world. I didn’t miss not knowing what is going on in the world on an almost hourly basis. Honestly, there could be something very important that happened a week ago, and I still wouldn’t know, because I just got back on the computer – and I haven’t looked at Drudge or my other usual news sites yet. As for the importance of constantly marketing myself online – it turns out, it’s not so important. I guess most of my posts and articles and comments just don’t get a lot of attention. Some tiny percentage of very successful articles and posts do most of the heavy lifting. With dozens of those in the past year, it didn’t matter much whether or not I missed the opportunity to post another hundred ideas online.
More important by far than the little bit of online attention and book sales I may have lost, was what I gained. Not only did I have one of the best weeks of my life, full of fun activities with the people I love – but I got to relax. I didn’t feel pressure to accomplish something. I didn’t feel any internet withdrawal. I ate well – but healthy – and exercised enough to not gain weight while eating well. I enjoyed nature. I got far enough away from man-made lights that I saw the Milky Way for the first time in my entire life. I stared up at the sky full of stars and contemplated the mind of God; and concepts like grace, and sin, and why God would send His message through a savior like Jesus Christ. I hiked through the woods, was startled by how close I could get to deer, and deeply inhaled the pine and rotting leaves scent of the mountains. I saw early morning clouds form so low over the cold river water that you could see the mountains on the opposite side ABOVE the clouds. I watched a beaver swim by, and an eagle fly over as I went fishing with my son. I felt the cool, fresh breeze of the downdraft that lingers in front of a waterfall.
I woke up early every day to drink coffee and gaze into the woods and thank God for the beautiful world we inhabit and read before anyone else in the cabin was awake – and never needed an alarm to do it. I caught up on back issues of unread magazines. I re-read old classics I hadn’t made time for in decades like Flowers for Algernon, and Of Mice and Men. I took the time to read many children’s books to my kids, and play lots of games with them. They waded into pools of clear water and searched for (and found) fish and snails and snakes and salamanders. They rode horses and built campfires and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and stared up at the stars at night and asked me questions about life and death and God and the universe and I answered as best as I could.
It made me realize, suddenly and clearly, that although I do enjoy reading articles and researching ideas online – there are far more meaningful and rewarding activities to do. And I DO have the freedom to do them. I am not chained to a computer. I do NOT have to spend so much of the precious time that is left online trying to learn or teach. I know, that should be obvious, but it’s easy to develop routines and feel bound by them. To limit and imprison ourselves in our own minds.
Before I started my experiment – before ten days away from the internet – I had expected that upon my return, I would suddenly feel free from isolation, and feel a frantic rush to get back online, to catch up on missed opportunities and post as many things as I could… But now I feel just the opposite. My goal now is to post LESS. Quality over quantity, in getting your attention and in LIVING in the real world. Whether my interpretation of prophecy is correct or not, whether you care to look up my books or not, whether we have as little normal time left as I imagine or not – my conclusion after my vacation/experiment is that perhaps we should all occasionally step back, jolt our routines, and get closer to our true selves, our loved ones, our beautiful planet, and our Heavenly Father.
God Bless EVERYONE
1 thought on “Experiment – Ten Days of No Internet (or TV, or radio…) – Unexpected Results”
Well written David, and oh so very true.