I guess those first months felt so good because I felt the absence of the pressures of the internet. My freedom felt tangible. But when I stopped seeing my life in the context of “I don’t use the internet,” the offline existence became mundane, and the worst sides of myself began to emerge.
I would stay at home for days at a time. My phone would die, and nobody could get ahold of me. At some point my parents would get fed up with wondering if I was alive, and send my sister over to my apartment to check on me. On the internet it was easy to assure people I was alive and sane, easy to collaborate with my coworkers, easy to be a relevant part of society.
So much ink has been spilled deriding the false concept of a “Facebook friend,” but I can tell you that a “Facebook friend” is better than nothing.
My best long-distance friend, one I’d talked to weekly on the phone for years, moved to China this year and I haven’t spoken to him since. My best New York friend simply faded into his work, as I failed to keep up my end of our social plans.
I fell out of sync with the flow of life.
There’s a lot of “reality” in the virtual, and a lot of “virtual” in our reality.
My plan was to leave the internet and therefore find the “real” Paul and get in touch with the “real” world, but the real Paul and the real world are already inextricably linked to the internet. Not to say that my life wasn’t different without the internet, just that it wasn’t real life.
I’d read enough blog posts and magazine articles and books about how the internet makes us lonely, or stupid, or lonely and stupid, that I’d begun to believe them. I wanted to figure out what the internet was “doing to me,” so I could fight back. But the internet isn’t an individual pursuit, it’s something we do with each other. The internet is where people are.
Very interesting article by Paul Miller about logging off from the Internet for one year trying to reconnect to his ‘real self’ and finally realizing that reality and virtuality are already too closely linked to each other.
You see, we’ve come to define “social” in unintentional Orwellian double-speak. “Social” has come to mean the exact opposite of what it’s meant for centuries. Instead of actual interaction and communication, we define “social” as once- or twice-removed ego validation through button-clicking.
“Social” is what happens when someone posts personal information—photos, thoughts, announcements, favorite songs, jokes—on the internet and another person comes along and clicks a thumbs up icon or a star or a heart. If someone’s really “social,” they’ll even type a comment or reply.
Kids aren’t leaving social networks. They’re redefining the word “social.” Rather, they’re actually using the word with the intent of its original meaning: making contact with other human beings. Communicating. Back-and-forth, fairly immediate dialogue. Most of it digitally. But most of it with the intent of a conversation where two (or more) people are exchanging information and emotion. Not posting it. Exchanging it.
A great post by Cliff Watson, found via @janchip(via wearethedigitalkids)
The very premise of social media is, at the end of the day, to promote the self, to eke out a niche, and to somehow get ahead. Facebook and Twitter users ‘collect’ friends and followers much as one collects stamps or some other object or commodity. The purpose of a status update is to draw attention to the self. Never before have we been so conscious of our appearances either: the ‘selfie’ is A Thing. We carry cameras, usually by way of smartphones, on our person at all times. Every social occasion generates a flock of photographs later that users can either tag or beg their friends to remove. Communicating means sending an SMS or tweet or writing on a digital wall. We develop relationships online; we break up via text.
So I’m a million years late in responding but yes, all of that, every place you’ve mentioned, sounds incredible. I’ve wanted to go to Hamburg for...