I spend a lot of time on the Internet. Like, a lot a lot.
You probably do to.
And that’s cool. The internet is a great place. It’s definitely got its problems, but it’s got a ton of amazing stuff going for it, too.
I want to suggest something, though: maybe our brains aren’t created and optimized for this kind of thing.
Maybe, to be constantly online and connected to this infinite flow of thoughts, noise, and information… to be able to instantly look up almost any piece of information that ever existed from a magic slabs in your pocket, to be able to in a second be in conversation with anyone in the world, or to be instantly contacted by anyone else in the world at their slightest whim… to be able to make boredom a complete thing of the past…
Well, maybe our brains, which used to not hear more than a couple songs or plays a year (or lifetime), might not be that great at this new state of incessant connectivity we’ve been subjecting them to.
In the eons of human history, this idea of constant noise, entertainment, and communication accessibility is extremely novel. I can’t help but wonder if the spike of mental health issues we’re experiencing as a species is at all connected to this extremely new mental state-of-being that basically all of us are now constantly in, 24/7/365.
Here’s an attempt at an alternative: what if we cultivated a rhythm where we started taking regular breaks from the internet?
Not even breaks from technology or screens — we can maybe get there, eventually — but to start with breaks from the internet.
Simply, at its core, to turn off data on our phones, and unplug our house modem for a solid period of time.
To practice being offline again, like our ancestors were for all their lives…. like at least some of our childhoods were.
What if we let our brains have regular periods where it was able to think and process in the way they were adapted to process: without the noise, without the instant connections, and without instantly having answers to every whimsical question.
I’m currently writing this from one of those breaks. I unplugged my router last night, and won’t connect to the internet again until tomorrow morning.
And it’s absolutely lovely!
It’s surprisingly difficult to describe exactly why it’s lovely. A break from the internet feels to my brain like finally taking a nice deep breath after struggling for air for a time. I find I’m able to think clearer, more creatively, and to come up to better solutions when I’m not connected to the internet. I can also better engage with those people in front of me, because I’m not distracted by what might be on the internet at a given moment.
The internet sabbath is a practice that I love, and want to continue to cultivate and optimize.
Do you have any similar practice? I’d love to hear about it!