One year ago I left the internet. I thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it lacked meaning. I thought it was “corrupting my soul.” It’s a been a year now since I “surfed the web” or “checked my email” or “liked” anything with a figurative rather than literal thumbs up. I’ve managed to stay disconnected, just like I planned. I’m internet free. And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect.
…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.
…What I do know is that I can’t blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. I have many of the same priorities I had before I left the internet: family, friends, work, learning. And I have no guarantee I’ll stick with them when I get back on the internet — I probably won’t, to be honest. But at least I’ll know that it’s not the internet’s fault. I’ll know who’s responsible, and who can fix it.
Most people — and I certainly include myself here — are nothing terribly special by objective standards. They’re not geniuses, saints, inventors or talented artists. They never were going to become rich or famous, or be remembered beyond their grandchildren’s lifespan. And so I repeat what I said before: rather than honestly ask ourselves if we truly are the deep-thinking, edge-living, profound sunsabitches we think we should be, and if not, whether that’s really such a bad thing after all and whether our lives have meaning regardless, we procrastinate some more by blaming the Internet for rewiring our brains, thus avoiding that self-reckoning. I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody…