Thoughts on Life Without the Internet: Paul Miller

Paul Miller, a career technology since the age of 14, spent a year without the Internet. He had technology, but no “connectivity” so he could watch TV, movies on DVDs, play video games, use a computer, etc. He just could not use email, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, a smart phone in general, or anything else that required a network connection. He couldn’t play video games with others (which he loved), he couldn’t see comments on his articles on The Verge (who paid him during this time), he couldn’t socialize online. You get the idea. Here is the link to his offline series of articles: Paul Miller Offline

So what did he learn? My summary is:

  • He missed the connectedness. In fact, he was probably addicted to the connectedness.
  • He enjoys creating more than consuming.
  • Not having the “distraction” of the Internet affected his creativity in ways he did not foresee, maybe due to his lack of connectedness, but also by helping him see the deeper issues in his psyche.
  • His “bad habits” were his fault, not the fault of the Internet.

Here is a link to his final post: Paul Miller Almost Online

Toward the beginning, he explored the creativity his new environment provided, and made comments like:

But if there’s one thing that’s missing in this landscape, it’s opportunities for creativity and inspiration. I love convenience, and I love to be entertained, but I’m most fulfilled when I feed and exercise my imagination.

But in the end, what was important to him was the connectedness:

When I return to the internet, I might not use it well. I might waste time, or get distracted, or click on all the wrong links. I won’t have as much time to read or introspect or write the great American sci-fi novel.

But at least I’ll be connected.

To me, this was a fascinating look at priorities / life balance decisions versus unstructured time, consumption verses creation, connectedness verses solitude, and the role of work versus play in both individual and group settings. Paul might be a little too close to his situation to see it yet, but in learning what he values through firsthand experience, it seems that he has seen himself clearly for the first time, and he got paid to do it!