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Lessons after 6 years of being connected to the internet
Image by Jadon Kelly on Unsplash
I have been working as a freelancing software engineer for a little over a year now. This has granted me an opportunity to work from my house (or bed) over 90% of the time. For context, the longest I have spent offline in 6 years is 3 weeks.
A while ago, the wired internet was cut off by the billing company but then, I chose (or my pockets chose) to not renew it for a couple of days (enters adulting priorities). I still had to subscribe to a mobile internet plan on my phone, though.
While living life partially offline, I realized a change in behaviour about how I'd normally go about my day.
- I suddenly became less busy,
- More calm and I had a schedule that I could stick to,
- I napped more and had better sleep at night,
- I read 4 titles in a single weekend (at the same time), and
- I called and texted loved ones more (For context, I hate calls).
More importantly, I realized that with an unlimited internet connection, the longest I could focus on a task was 30 minutes (with a couple of distractions in between). This truly worried me since my productivity took a hit my brain would literally switch off once I had to write a seemingly complex piece of code.
With all the above, it got me thinking about the impact that internet connection and limitless scrolling have on a human's psychology and brain functioning over a sustained period of time. Interestingly enough, this was my proposed final semester's research paper which my lecturer told me to avoid since "it was complex". Isn't this why people have to do research?
With the unending loneliness of working and staying alone, endless asynchronous communication (email - 7 active email addresses , Whatsapp, Github code reviews and collaborations, Twitter and Facebook feeds, Slack notifications) becomes the way of life to accustom oneself to since it's the only interface with clients and family.
Much as the internet has enabled me to eck out a living, below are the effects I've noticed happen to me over time:
Reluctancy to doing anything physical. As a young adult, I loved going to the farm. Watching the crops grow and die off gave me my first understanding about life and death. I liked working the fields (sometimes, helping the numerous farm helps my mother always had over in her gardens) since it was a time for me to reflect and make small talk. I have gone back to cycling in order to fill the void of doing no physical activity for a long period of time.
It's hard maintaining personal relationships (apart from immediate family) since freelancing in a small domestic market is a "don't do today, sleep hungry tomorrow" endeavor. Either I'm grinding or recovering from the intense grinding that I have to undergo most of the time.
A significant drop in my writing and reading culture. Reading a book from cover to cover (however interesting) takes A LOT of effort. I have a couple of short essays and poems that I wrote around 3 years ago before I stopped all together. To make it worse, I stopped journaling, too.
A very minimal attention span. If a piece of work does not interest me, everytime I tackle it, my brain goes on a rampage screaming "DROP IT, DROP IT. Let's watch a movie instead." I do not want to say I'm on an ADHD spectrum.
I'll make it a habit to turn off the internet for a considerable amount of time as my eyes have opened to the disadvantages of having an ever on connection. I pledge to read more (beyond the daily technical literature), write more, be more preset physically to the people around me and most importantly push my life a bit harder as I transition to life as a startup founder.
I hope our shared experience helps us navigate life better as humans.
Thanks for reading.
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