2023 Monthly Challenge: No Internet for 10 days
Every month. Some qualifiers.
My audiobook for the week has been “The Year of Less” by Cait Flanders. In it, you can find thoughtful reflections on her 1-year no spending experiment. Flanders narrates it well and gives insight into how her attempt to spend less shaped a brighter future while reviving memories from the past. As I listened, a thought came into my mind. Would it be possible to quit the internet in 2023? I know someone who attempted it and chronicled his experiences from The Verge.
In 2012, Paul Miller set to leave the internet for a year and document what it was like to shift from the emergence of the web. That was 10 years ago. Since then, we have seen the rise of smartphones, streaming services, QR codes, smart speakers, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and so much more! Thus, is it possible to do it now?
I think it is. At least a little bit every month. While internet use has been embedded into most jobs, I think that a 5-day or 10-day break each month is achievable. There are some tasks that you must do in order to continue to be employed and those will be fair game for the experiment. However, there are some distractions that can be eliminated to bring forth a better you and a better us. Here are the 10 rules I’ve come up with for my little experiment starting January 26th:
No online entertainment. YouTube, Netflix, Streaming, etc. Renting/Buying a movie via DVD or VHS is acceptable. The theater is allowed as well.
No social media of any kind. Schedule your posts for the next 5 or 10 days if you are in a work environment or delegate them to a friend for the time being.
No web browser. If you need to search for something, go to the library or read a paper book. No clicking links/videos on SMS, WhatsApp, Signal, iMessage, etc.
No online games. Forget about multiplayer, co-op, or chess matches. Board games, puzzles, or offline console games only.
No online delivery services. Uber eats, Grubhub, Doordash, etc. Go to the store, interact with a human, or call ahead of time.
No News apps. Podcasts are fine, but no scrolling services.
Email through a standalone app only. Thunderbird, Spark, Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.
Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet are acceptable. This is just how the world meets nowadays. Prioritize in-person meetings if your job allows it.
No QR codes. Print your passes, plane tickets, or game stubs.
Sandbox a max of 3 work-related online services. WebCatalog will be the tool to use for apps like schedule coordination (Planning Center), file sharing (Google Drive), or any other must-category.
After selecting my 3 sandboxed apps, I installed Ubuntu (any Linux distribution may do) on an old computer and removed all unnecessary apps from it. I picked Linux since it is easier to modify and strip to the bare needs. Here is a screenshot of everything I will be using during this recurring experiment:
The goal will be to use my laptop extremely less for 5/10 days per month and keep limited connectivity to renew the mind. Over the course of those days, I plan to immerse myself in reading, walking, and human-first interactions. As I finished “The Year of Less,” I’ve come to the realization that access to a browser is the easiest path toward distraction. While switching to a Light Phone 2 has given me tremendous benefits over the past 3 years, my usage has definitely transferred to my desktop or laptop when at the office. Continuing on the path of digital minimalism means embracing a simpler lifestyle at work and a path toward fewer distractions, even if it means a little bit more friction.
As I prepare for this experiment, I am excited to delete more digital excess from my life. I hope this post has given you some ideas on eliminating distractions from your work scenario and making necessary adjustments to your personal preference. It takes time to slow down and remove our dependencies from the internet, but it’s not impossible. I’ll check in after my initial 5-day experiment and report on struggles, adjustments, etc.
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I must say I was also surprised at the podcast submission. However, I also see the point of keeping them. I am a HUGE podcast enthusiast but I believe I could forgo them for 10-days as I would still listen to the radio and my most important podcasts are weekly. Also, I don't have a Lightphone as my carrier doesn't support them yet. My only option to come-off internet for ten days is to use the Punkt and/or Mudita Pure. I thought it was interesting to hear Jose's desktop and laptop usage increase after primarily using the Lightphone. Whenever I try smartphone-free life my internet usage at work and on desktop at home skyrockets! I started to come to the conclusion that smartphone-free life was not the answer! Perhaps a smartphone with only productivity apps and getting rid of desktop and laptop is the way to go for me. I don't know...
Very interested how this goes for you! I don't know why you'd keep podcasts though? To me, it's like YouTube or anything else, but honestly, I am not a podcast person so idk, I just don't consume that type of content regularly. Definitely looking forward to your thoughts!