Election Day happened and I quit the internet.
Not completely, but mostly. I haven’t been to any news or social media site since the evening of November 8th.
No Twitter, no CNN, no Reddit, no Instagram, and definitely no Facebook. Not even local news.
I have continued to use Spotify, Stream Amazon Prime and listen to podcasts about old movies. But already, seven days into this break from the noise, my mind feels clearer, cleaner and more spacious.
When I have come home in the evening, I’ve put my phone on the kitchen counter and let it sit there until morning. Chrome has been used sparingly to check my email a few times. But all of those information feeds–the news, Reddit posts, random stuff on Boing Boing, what some girls I knew in high school are posting to Instagram, essays on the state of the nation in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, The Daily Beast, blah blah blah–those have remained out of sight and out of mind. And instead of filling my head with them, I’ve played with my son. I’ve also done yard work, made some grilled cheese sandwiches, listened to the latest Orb album without looking at anything else, read a novel, played with my son some more, written, thought and tried to sleep well.
When I think of the ways I want to spend my time, the things I’d like to accomplish, the memories I want to make, staring at the endless feed of news, controversies, cats, complaints and bullshit drama that streams out of the web isn’t really one of them.
That world has become too loud, fast, ephemeral and, in essence, meaningless. At least for me, right now. There have been a thousand treatises written on what’s unhealthy about the online world we’ve created for ourselves. I don’t need to add to them here. All I can say is it feels good to step away for a little while.
I composed this post offline in Scrivener. I did it without clicking away to check twitter, or checking to see if anything had changed on the Daily Beast’s Cheat Sheet. This sounds obvious and hardly novel. But over the last few years it’s become anything but.
Over the last few years, typing the names of certain websites into my browser has become an almost unconscious reflex action. Same with taking out my phone to check a social feed while waiting in line to buy lunch. Time to change that.
I’m interested in seeing how long I can go. How disconnected I can get. How much real estate I can recover in my mind. Already I’ve overheard people at work talking about news I am completely unaware of. I’m not just okay with this, I welcome it.
It’s fall, and next weekend I might have a fire.