Jun 26, 2014


On April 30, 2012, Paul Miller, a technology writer, took a one year break from the Internet. He wanted a break from modern life, he wanted to escape. His employer, The Verge, paid for him to leave the Internet. His goal was to find what the Internet had done to him.

Miller states that he had been using the Internet regularly from the time he was fourteen years old. He felt that he was previously unable to restrain his Internet usage. He wanted to live life without the Internet and to understand the Internet by studying it from a distance.

When he started this journey, Miller says he dreamed a dream. “My life was full of serendipitous events: real life meetings, Frisbee, bike rides, and Greek literature. With no clear idea how I did it, I wrote half my novel, and turned in an essay nearly every week to The Verge. In one of the early months, my boss expressed slight frustration at how much I was writing, which has never happened before and never happened since…

“It seemed then, in those first few months, that my hypothesis was right. The Internet had held me back from my true self, the better Paul. I had pulled the plug and found the light.”

The first few months of this experiment were great for him. He was able to enjoy life and was still able to accomplish many of the things he had done before without the use of internet.

However, after a few months, he replaced his excessive Internet use with other offline habits. Instead of going out and doing things, he would sit in his room and play a video game or even do nothing at all.

Miller learned that some things don’t change just because you’re offline. You’re still able to get practical things done. You still face the same moral choices. People are still the same.

He says that the biggest difference he saw was that it is harder to keep in touch with people without the Internet. He spoke of one friend who moved to China and he was unable to keep in touch with him, and another friend with whom he was unable to keep up on his social plans. Even his five-year-old niece noticed the lack of communication since he no longer talked via Skype with her.

The main point Miller says is that the most important thing about the Internet is staying connected with everyone. Staying 100% off the internet is not worth the lost relationships and friendships. 

In his words, “the Internet isn’t an individual pursuit, it’s something we do with each other. The Internet is where people are.”

Internet use is good in moderation. It is an opportunity to keep in touch with those we love. It makes finding information a lot easier. But it can be a huge time sink and can inhibit creative thinking. It can keep us away from other important things in life.

Net Nanny can help you keep track of the amount of time you spend online.

Shayna Norberg