How I went offline (mostly)

I would like to share the story of how I transitioned to an internet-free lifestyle. It may surprise you, and inspire you to do the same. There are so many benefits to such a move; indeed, too many to list! But some of them include:

  • less stress and frustration
  • less life tracking by corporations
  • more situational awareness

Now, I am a software developer, which means I rely 100% on the internet and electronic devices not just for entertainment, but to earn my livelihood. So, if it’s “impossible” for anyone to go internet-free, you would THINK that would be me.

I should first qualify “internet-free” and say that this does not mean 100% (obviously, since this is an internet forum). What it means is that I do not use the internet on any of my personal devices or at home. When I’m at my office, I still use the internet.

How did this come about?

Stage 1 was to give the internet its own space. Just like it’s important to set boundaries in human relationships, it’s important to set boundaries with technology. That’s why I say your first step should be to establish a place for the internet. This might just be a room in your house, or a certain computer, or in my case, since I worked from home, a rented office space. Also, set up your workstation in a comfortable way.

Stage 2 was to find offline activities I enjoy. If you’re 30s and older, this might just be as simple as remembering what you used to do before you got the internet. If you’re younger than 30, you can reach out to some older folks for ideas, or perhaps get involved in your school, library, or any other social club based on locality.

Stage 3 was to remove the internet from my person. Meaning. BUY A DUMB PHONE!! :slight_smile: You can get them from Walmart, Amazon, or eBay. Transfer your cell service to a dumb phone, or “feature phone.” I didn’t actually get rid of my smart phone at this point, since I still used WhatsApp sometimes; I just transferred my cell plan to my new phone. I also stopped taking my computer equipment and smart phone home after work, and arranged for some secure storage.

Stage 4 was to remove access to the internet from my house. Now that I was armed with the right tools: an offline lifestyle and an offline phone: I was ready for an offline home. My wife was well aware of my journey at this point, and since she was NOT going internet-free, she agreed to set up her own internet access point.

One of the best things about living internet-free is to not be using these blasted devices all the time. Maybe I’m the only one who’s noticed that phones are just frustrating devices. You’re constantly waiting for ads to finish, waiting for the CPU to free up, waiting for content to load, fixing typos, signing into stuff, granting permissions, etc. To be able to just say “Sorry, my phone isn’t compatible” and skip a whole category of everyday annoyances is a bigger relief than you expect.

I won’t lie; there are downsides. For example, I was an avid online gamer before and had built up relationships with other gamers, and those relationships are harder to maintain now. For people who are even more hooked into social media than I was, you may lose some weak ties.

Your motivations for going internet free may not be enough to weigh against that sacrifice. I’m not trying to convince you to do this; I’m only saying that it can be done. I’m just trying to explain that contrary to what Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. want you to think, the internet is NOT a mandatory part of life.

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Great story. With your permission we can add as a blog entry on our community website.

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I’ve considered something like this, I am a developer as well and often work at home. I even considered taking my dev machine offline at one, but I do a ton of googling as I am learning new methods and coding. When you are at work, do you stick to strictly work, or do you still get distracted by other things on the web? What methods have helped you avoid this while at work? Thanks for sharing your story!

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Yeah, although what if you lose your job? Is it really harder to do anything without the Internet these days?

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On the positive side useful infromations are a lot in the web.

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@aschrijver Thanks, this is more of an early brain dump on the topic. I will think about re-working it into a proper post. If I do I’ll let you know!

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Congrats @penmanship!!

I’m right there with you. And I’ve been blogging about the experience on my personal website: billloundy.com

To me, it’s absolutely essential to not have a smartphone. I really love my flip phone. I don’t call it a “dumb” phone, because that feels pejorative. It’s smart enough to know the million things I don’t need it for! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

It was also essential for me to get off of all social media channels. Once you get off, you realize that they aren’t as essential as people insist. They are definitely extractive - taking more than they give - for the sake of selling ads.

Here’s another something I wrote on the topic: The Importance of Being Earnest About Scren Time

I believe the first two stages alone would make A HUGE difference in how we use technology. Most of our compulsive internet use is the result of lack of better alternatives, or enjoyable leisure activities.

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How do you navigate without maps on your smartphone? I always go to new places.

I look it up beforehand or ask for directions.

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You can also use one of the apps based on OpenStreetMap as a privacy-friendly alternative.

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