A Year Off From The Internet

by Patrick Appel

Dave Roberts is taking one:

I enjoy sharing zingers with Twitter all day; I enjoy writing long, wonky posts at night. But the lifestyle has its drawbacks. I don’t get enough sleep, ever. I don’t have any hobbies. I’m always at work. Other than hanging out with my family, it’s pretty much all I do — stand at a computer, immersing myself in the news cycle, taking the occasional hour out to read long PDFs. I’m never disconnected.

It’s doing things to my brain.

I think in tweets now. My hands start twitching if I’m away from my phone for more than 30 seconds. I can’t even take a pee now without getting “bored.” I know I’m not the only one tweeting in the bathroom. I’m online so much that I’ve started caring about “memes.” I feel the need to comment on everything, to have a “take,” preferably a “smart take.” The online world, which I struggle to remember represents only a tiny, unrepresentative slice of the American public, has become my world. I spend more time there than in the real world, have more friends there than in meatspace.

Connor Simpson rounds up reaction to Roberts’ decision:

Some people were dismissive to Robert’s plight, calling it as another trend story we’ve seen before. And those notions aren’t exactly wrong. The Verge’s Paul Miller concluded his year-long absence from the ‘net this year, revealing that it’s didn’t make him any happier. He had modest goals of looking at the flowers and reading and writing more, just like Roberts. It didn’t work out that way, though. He ended up slitting his time doing other just-as-meaningless things.

Others were much more sympathetic. “I relate entirely to [Robert’s] story of total internet-writing burn out and have no idea how so many don’t have it,” wrote The Guardian‘s Jim Newell, who then compared the difficulties of quitting to a smack addiction.