|One Man Proves You Can Survive Without the Internet|
|By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern)||May 1, 2013, 10:09 PM|
Even if some of us can remember a time before it, living without the Internet seems impossible.
He didn't read e-mail, type a word into Google, or download apps. He never saw Obama tweet his reelection victory, watched a "Harlem Shake" video or had even seen a Vine. He lived his entire year -- a full 365 days -- offline in hopes of finding out more about himself and focusing on some other activities.
But Wednesday, Miller rejoined the rest of us digital nomads and reconnected the WiFi on his laptop and iPad.
ABC News spoke to Paul when he was just starting his journey last year and decided to catch up with him again to find out what he learned, how it went, and what he is looking forward to the most on the Internet again.
Did you really do it? Did you really avoid all parts of the Internet for a year? Yes, with one exception. I was at the library trying to look for a book and I pulled up the card catalog and it turned out to be a website. I did inadvertently click a link, but as soon as I realized my mistake, I fled.
But yes, I avoided looking at people's screens all the time. Even when people tried to show me Instagrams on their phones I always looked away. I didn't use the Internet for a year.
What was the hardest part about it? It was really easy to not load a browser or use apps and keep WiFi off, but when people tried to show me things -- funny YouTube videos or Instagrams -- it just felt really selfish of me. They wanted to show me something -- they weren't doing the experiment -- and it felt rude of me. They just wanted to share something with me, and I felt rude. That was hard.
When we talked earlier, you were finding out about other ways to communicate: the phone, telephone books, snail mail, etc. How did you get around not using the Internet? A lot of those practical things never really became an issue. I went to the library a lot, but they don't really have books at the library anymore; they just have computers mostly now. I got a lot of letters but I never really got into the groove of sending letters. And then I used 411 a lot instead of the phonebook. I mostly just asked people questions. I really did learn you can get lots of great information from asking real people.
What did you want to accomplish in this year? Did you feel like it was a success? I wanted to read a lot and educate myself. But then it evolved into an experiment where I could learn something about the Internet. I didn't really succeed, but I learned a lot. I got some reading done and some writing done, but I am not a transformed person.
What are you looking forward to seeing the most once you connect? I want to see the big things I missed this year, the Internet culture that I missed. I also missed the people and connecting with them online.
What did you learn? Do you come back to the Internet feeling more balanced? The big thing I learned is I can't blame the Internet for my problems. I thought leaving the Internet would fix some of my issues, but they are more innate. The experiment was a failure because I didn't fix myself; I just stayed away from that part of myself. I did learn what priorities are important to me. Family is really important. I actually wasn't able to connect with my family as well since I couldn't Skype with my niece and nephew.
What is your advice to people that feel overwhelmed by the Internet, to those that wish they could disconnect more? I think we have an uphill climb. As a society, we are learning how to not bombard each other, and I think that's what becomes overwhelming. It's not that the Internet is crazy; it is the people on the Internet that want your attention. That's not wrong. We just need to figure out how to balance that.
Note: Paul was able to quit the Internet as part of his job at The Verge. He said he was really lucky he was able to do it.