Media dieting and how I escaped the 21st century.
may have noticed this website looks like something straight out of
'90s. All that's missing is the modem squeal. This is
deliberate. To borrow a phrase, I'm consciously uncoupling from
the Internet of today.
Why? First of all, it's so demanding. Updates!
Special offers! Subscribe! Notification! Ding! ding! ding!
Second, social media has gone anti-social. When people do
connect, it's usually to abuse each other. I had a literal death
threat on Facebook following the 2016 election, because as a college
graduate, I was a brainwashed liberal zombie and needed a bullet in my
It took me a while to actually get off Facebook. First I decided
to detoxify my news media. I stopped following my usual
hysterical outlets, like Alternet, which has always been about outrage
and indignation, and now CNN, which suddenly developed a journalistic
conscience, like they hadn't spent the previous 18 months following every goddamned Tweet that orange monster made!
I cleaved to calmer, more measured news outlets like NPR and PBS, and
so lowered my blood pressure and was able to ease off the benzos.
(Great thing about the radio is that it's in the same cabinet as the
record player. It never asks me to sync, update, or store my
credit card for future purchases. And it's cheap! Three
records for a dollar at the Salvo.)
Next step was to get off Facebook altogether. I needed an
Internet presence of some kind, a point of electronic contact, so I
conjured up this site using my mid-'90s know-how. Since anything
more than occasional updates is a hassle, I also needed a blog
component for my stream-of-consciousness posting I used to do on
Facebook. (Twitter was obviously right out.)
Having put it together, I gave people notice, and the addresses, and in
due course downloaded my data and pulled the plug on Facebook.
I missed it for a week or so, but then I realized the whole platform
had been hollowed out and merely gave me the illusion of
connectedness. It is useful to no one anymore but the likes of
Mark Zuckerberg and Vladimir Putin, and I don't believe anyone sticks
around except for the reason they can't imagine anything else. I
can't either, but I remember the Before Times and how it was optional
then and how it's jolly well optional now.
Having opted out of one thing and liked it, I needed something else to
delete. Goodbye, Gmail! Fifteen years of an address in
circulation and you tend to collect quite a few marketers, spammers,
politicians, trolls, and other noisome and disagreeable persons.
And gigabytes of e-mails I will never look at again. It was like
jettisoning trash into the sun.
Let's see, let's see, what else can I get rid of? This where I
encountered the bridge too far to burn, to mix metaphors. I tried
getting rid of my smartphone.
It didn't help that the dumb phone I tried reverting to truly
sucked. It had all the functionality of my circa-millennium
Nokia, right down to the 640x480 camera, but was miniaturized to a
point of fumbly frustration. But that doesn't quite explain the
massive anxiety I experienced. Not even when I stopped to think
about Google Maps or the various ways I could find myself in trouble
when out and about in the world. (China? without Translate?)
No, it was a visceral thing. I felt as though I had just quit a
million-dollar job to go work at Arby's. I felt like I had cut
off a finger (digit) and flushed it down the toilet (de-digitalization).
So okay, that's clearly the limit to my Internet purge. I set up
my Google phone again and ported over my shiny new Southern California
number, which was the only decent thing about the Lego block-sized dumb
phone. And the various parts of my Google account which had been
misbehaving since I deleted Gmail were once again working right.
Obviously resetting the phone settled something.
If you ignore my phone mishap, or even if you don't, I am feeling
better than I was before I started all this. Thoreau, "For I
wanted to live deliberately," yes, yes. But mostly I wanted more
quiet, in my head and around me. I think that's what I've gotten,
and I don't expect I'll want to go back.
Copyright Ian Adkins, 1996-Present
All Rights Reserved.