There’s something odd going on. More and more reports are calling for us to abandon the Internet. Get away from Facebook. Stop checking your email. Stop reading blogs. Ignore Twitter. Step away from the laptop. There is some evidence to suggest the Internet’s bad for us. There’s certainly no doubt that it can be a major distraction:
But many of us also compulsively check our email, in the hope we’ll get a message; in the hope we’ll have a new task to complete. The Internet’s addictive, so the argument goes. We need some control. Some abstinence. Some self-discipline. Then there’s the argument that, at the same time as the Internet gives us unprecedented access to data and information – What agricultural commodities are exported from Niger? Oh, the answer can be found here – it stops us from developing our imaginations. We don’t think as well as we used to. We can’t focus. Concentration lapses. What was that joke about the dog and the beer can? Focus, focus.
So maybe the Internet’s something, somewhere, to avoid. Now just how possible would that be? Try it. Go a day without the Internet:
- Don’t check your bank account online: Actually go to a physical bank.
- Don’t check the weather: Actually buy a real, paper-version newspaper.
- Don’t email your friend: Actually track him down and invite him for a drink.
- Don’t read Twitter: Just try to get by without knowing whether your cousin ate apple sauce with ice cream last night and thought it reminded her of her childhood.
- Don’t look up a recipe for oatmeal cookies on the BBC’s web site: Actually get out a cook book or go and buy one from Oxfam.
- Don’t write a blog post: Just keep your thoughts to yourself. Yeah right.
But one final question for now: Will we begin to come across people who don’t go online… but deliberately?*
Like a sub-culture: the no-netters? The anti-webbers? Will they be the 21st century’s equivalent to the households who somehow managed to get by without (gasp!) a television? Do such people already exist?
* Of course, there are plenty of people who cannot afford to go online. It is an expensive commodity, after all.