Bubble portrait

Media dieting and how I escaped the 21st century.

You 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 brain.

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.

Go home.

Copyright Ian Adkins, 1996-Present

All Rights Reserved.