So you're giving up the Internet? Did you think through what you'd do without all that time spent being "busy" with social media, RSS feeds, smart phones and so on?
It seems as if Paul Miller, the Verge writer who went Internet Celibate for a year, did not. To be fair, it's hard to sum up a year of radical disconnection in less than 3000 words. But Miller's conclusions really don't address the underlying purpose of saying "No" to something. You say "No" because you need the space and time to figure out what you want to say "Yes" to. Miller didn't. And what rushed into the void wasn't pretty:
I'd learned how to make a new style of wrong choices off the internet. I abandoned my positive offline habits, and discovered new offline vices. Instead of taking boredom and lack of stimulation and turning them into learning and creativity, I turned toward passive consumption and social retreat.
It's evident that "the Internet" wasn't really responsible for these behaviors. It may have amplified and enabled them, but it didn't create them. And instead of teasing out the ways in which the Internet lets us slide into false productivity and false achievement versus how we do that offline, Miller just shrugs, "Eh, I'd suck with or without the Internet."
There's growing evidence that suggests constant connectivity affects how you think: Your capacity for woolgathering and creative leaps in thinking erodes; your impulsiveness shoots up as your patience and ability to delay gratification fall; your concentration and focus suffer. In other words, all the interesting, cool thinking you do that makes you giddy to have a working brain that helps you perceive the world in awesome ways? Not so easy if you're online all the time.
What I'd like to see now is an examination of how people recover or retrain their brains after Internet overindulgence. I would have loved it if Miller had approached his sabbatical as an experiment in re-engineering his brain, or even an experiment in saying yes to a different way of thinking.
But I should not be surprised with what we got. After all, if constant connectivity wrecks your ability to think rigorously and well, how can someone in the thick of it think their way clear of it? In some ways, it seems that Miller never really gave up the Internet. He just took a year off from checking his mail.