Life without the internet

Unease, emptiness, paranoia. These were some of my feelings whenever I switched off the internet and sometimes before I switched it on. Why? I knew not. I do now.

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To stop the discord and get to the bottom of these feelings I set myself the challenge of staying away from the internet for a year to look for answers.

The challenge lasted seven months or so before I realised I’d been standing over a dead horse with a whip in my hand and certainty splashed across my face for several weeks. It was time to realise timescales only restrict you and there is no point flogging a dead horse. When you’ve learned all you need to know, it’s time to raise a fist in triumph; you’ve beaten the challenger and it’s time to move on to the next challenge. Stubbornness is stupidity.  

For the seven months, I kept a weekly diary of musings to sift through my emotions to help me understand what I was going through on my own personal journey. What did I find from this challenge, away from the digital world? The answer: wonder, great sounds, sweet aromas, colour, beauty, magic and knowledge. The thing that is constant; reality.

I reconnected to real life, its pulse throbbed in and around me. Being away from the internet I got something back from my past, held time in my hands and could see a brighter horizon.  

Did I think about the internet? Of course. But as time went by, my thoughts for it became less and less, and then eventually I became unaware of it unless I was writing my weekly musings or on the odd occasion I required fast data for a project I was pondering.

Sometimes in the first few months of the challenge, several days would be hard. At times I felt like I was punishing myself, starving myself. In fact, a friend of mine told me I was. But, as time passed by, I realised starvation doesn’t always make you crave for something you haven’t got. It clarifies what you need and what you want.

Sometimes the challenge seemed pointless. At other times big breakthroughs and magic were revealed. The magician for this magic, this wonder, came from within myself and the world around me; reconnecting to mother nature’s pulse, her unwavering love and her beauty.

When I knew the challenge was over, I waited and let days slip by, waiting for the right time to access the internet again. I wasn’t in a rush. There was no impulse to do so.

Then one Sunday night I casually accessed the internet again. I immediately realised I had changed and so had my relationship with it. It was now apparent that the internet was like one of those films you watched years ago thinking it was “really good”, but now, years later, after re-watching it, you realised you’d outgrown it and it no longer spoke to you or offered you much. Leaving you questioning what it was that held sway in your life and why you thought it was good in the first place.

My exile from the internet revealed what I truly wanted and needed it for. I wasn’t addicted to it nor a slave to it. On the whole, it didn’t contain much for me, other than data.

My biggest breakthrough came in the realisation I wasn’t so much at odds with the internet per se but with the ever-changing world around me. My struggles were with the changing world, the ever-growing digital world, the news being reported, fake news, bias and the effect it was having on the gullible and the seemingly death of democracy in the western world. I saw “sportsmen” earning thousands of pounds a week, millions of pounds a year, for kicking a ball around a field in what some people constituted as “entertainment” while other people spent time queueing at a food bank. A food bank, in this country! When did that become the norm? When did that become something we accept as someone else’s misfortune and something they must deal with alone with a spoonful of pity while we tuned into something they told us was entertainment? It was like society was okay with injustice and greed was good as long as their team was winning or they were getting their own way. And the media controlled the foolish.

Yes folks, I had become bitter with the world. It took the challenge of being internet-less to show me my hidden feelings.

I saw wrongs being ignored when rights and solutions were in plain view. I looked around and saw sheep were once there was opinion. There was a pungent smell of the dark ages in the air. What next witch trials? Would I be burned at the stake for being a heretic because I’d found magic outside of this world? Magic that was there for all. It was all around, all you needed to do was open your eyes, embrace it and tap into it. And it was so easy to do so. It was beautiful.

And that’s what the challenge did, it revealed my bitterness towards what I was seeing and feeling around me. The internet was just a by-product of my bitterness and anger.  

Cutting myself off from the internet gave me a lot of positives and was a great individual success. I’m glad I took the challenge. It changed my relationship with the internet, in a good way. I don’t feel bitterness towards it any more. The internet, to a certain degree wasn’t causing all my unease, emptiness and paranoia. I know that now.

The challenge allowed me to work out with certainty what I need and want from it. I know I will hardly ever use it in the future. I’ve moved on.

Just like a boxer you can’t knock everything down that’s put in front of you. Sometimes all you can do is overcome the challenge. I know I overcome my challenge of being internet-less. I thank myself for searching for the truth of my unease, emptiness and paranoia every time I tapped into the internet or switched it off. I found answers.

And what now? Answer; time for a new challenge…


For all his fans, Bobby, near Black Hill on the Malvern Hills

Mark Cuddy

Someone who learned to wake up