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August 03, 2016

Digital Detox: Many Britons Unplugging Themselves From Internet In Order to Plug Into the Real World

Yes. This is good.

One third of Britons have undertaken a "digital detox" by ditching their smartphones and tablets to wean themselves off online addiction and to do more in the real world with friends and family, communications industries regulator Ofcom said.

Some 15 million adults had sought temporary respite from the internet, Ofcom said, as adults spent an average of 25 hours online each week, rising to 29 hours for those aged 16-24 and 26 hours for teens....

I've been taking a deliberate "Internet Sabbatical" at least one day a week since I read about it in Cal Newports's Deep Work: Finding Focus in an Increasingly Distracting World.

Plus, I mostly went off Twitter -- for a while. Until the Shrieky Freaks pulled me back in. But now I'm mostly off again, and will be going off more or less permanently again.

There was a South Park about marijuana. They had to walk a fine line -- these are libertarians who pride themselves on not bullshitting a party line, and yet, they were kind of uncomfortable with endorsing marijuana on a show that has a lot of appeal to kids (at least, young teenagers).

I though the way they handled it turned out to be pretty bang-on and not bullshitty. No, you won't become an addict on marijuana, nor will your life be destroyed (probably).

But marijuana makes being bored -- being inert -- seem like a reasonably good use of your time.

I think that would be my indictment of the internet. Does anyone really need to do a Wikipedia Walk-About and wind up reading about Captain Boomerang's origin story?

It's fine for a bored, my-brain-is-too-tired-to-engage-with-anything-heavy indulgence and diversion.

But indulgences ought to be enjoyed occasionally -- once a week, twice a week at most.

If it's habit -- well, any indulgence which is habituated is sort of, definitionally, a bad habit.

I'm trying to take my own advice. I learned French on my own (using a lot of online aids), but ultimately, to speak French, you have to (get this) actually speak French.

That means I had to stop just thinking about venturing out of the apartment and finding a french speaking bar-night, and actually find one.

Little by little, the vocab is moving to the active/verbal part of my brain.

I stopped thinking about doing it -- while remaining glued to the ghostworld of the internet -- and actually ventured out into the real physical world to talk with actual living beings.

I started walking, and would drive several miles to find a good park, preferably with ravines or other interesting features.

There's something wonderful about moving in the real physical earthly environment. It feels right and good in a way that dashing off a critical tweet, and bravely announcing "I'm putting you on my block list," does not.

I like crossing bridges. Wooden ones. Pedestrian ones. A small pleasure, but a real one.

I want to learn how to rock-climb. Well, I'm doing that this weekend.

Instead of wanting to do things, I'm trying to actually do them.

I feel better. I just feel more productive, more pro-active, and more engaged in actual breathing moving sweating life.

As Peter Gibbons observed: "We were not put on this earth to sit in cubicles and stare at screens all day."

I think Peter Gibbons was right. And I more understand why, at the end of Office Space, he was working construction.

No, it's not a prestige job. Yes, it's physically demanding.

But there's something deeply -- and, if you'll allow this from an agnostic/atheist pseudo-Deist -- and spiritually satisfying about interacting with real, living things, rather than ASCII phantasms.

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posted by Ace at 07:42 PM

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