When people ask where I live I'm more likely to say "Twitter" than my city of residence. And just like my actual city, sometimes I need to get out of town and hole up somewhere else — somewhere with actual trees with actual birds tweeting.
Image credit: sc.lover/Flickr
Everyone has their own way to deal with internet burnout. Weekend stints away from technology; writing essays about how stepping away from the internet changed your life for the better (or worse); even putting your phone inside of a Faraday cage could all help ease the feeling you get from checking your inbox.
Going offline? You don't need to turn it into a spectacle, nor do you need to cut the web out of your life completely and live like a Luddite. Perhaps the solution to your distracted lifestyle isn't a jettisoning of your entire online existence, but a scaling back of what you consider "going offline".
Instead of going offline — ripping your clothes off and bounding into the woods — might I offer a different suggestion? Have you tried going "nonline"?
nonline or non-line (adj.): No longer found on, made available to, or primarily accessed or contacted through the Internet.
In his newsletter he described his self-imposed exile from the modern web as a quest to rediscover writing for an audience of one instead of the thousands of followers he has, as well as a realisation of how easy it is to feel like everything is immediate, urgent and demands attention. Being online today means keeping everyone updated or informed of your activities.
The tools make it so very easy to broadcast even the silliest and most fleeting of thoughts immediately. I've adopted the sense of extreme urgency I feel (perhaps wrongly, I admit) the tools demand from me. That everyone needs to know "What's Happening?" in my head right this second. I've also convinced myself that, if I don't show up and keep hitting publish, the people that really do care about my work and words will stop caring and move on. I think that's a problem.
OK, "nonline" is a little pretentious, but it does a great job of defining what we consider "online" and "offline" activity. For many, going offline means unplugging and turning off everything with a display and an internet connection. Going offline involves doing things in the "real world" like cooking for your "family" and "talking" on the "phone" with someone you "love" or something like that. But going "nonline" might mean keeping up on your email (a necessity more than an option) while abandoning the rest of your online persona. It ain't going anywhere.
The benefits of going "nonline" are apparent if you've ever thought about how you feel after using the internet for just a few hours. It's constantly tricking us; making us think we're smarter than we are; substituting actual knowledge with where you found it; and bombarding you with a constant stream of negative news, vitriol-spewing commenters (not you guys, I love you), and jokes about "covfefe" while the world falls apart around you. All of that isn't great for your mental well-being, as asserted by nearly every article about the web.