I recently attended a family conference at which the speaker, among many other things blamed social media in general and Whatsapp in particular for the disconnection in relationships, particularly marriages. Later the same day, I found myself seated in a room with 5 comrades; four of us were busy on our phones while we waited for a colleague to walk in for a meetup. One of my friends noticed this and jokingly re-iterated the idea that mobile internet has made us become zombies; we were busy tweeting online when we should have been talking offline.
Less than 24 hours later, I was loitering on the ‘net when I bumped into an article by one Paul Miller, the gentleman who on April 30th, 2012, at 11:59PM unplugged his Ethernet cable, shut off his Wi-Fi, and swapped his smartphone for a dumb one and set out on a yearlong journey of living without the Internet. As a 26 year old experiencing burnout, Paul says he wanted “a break from modern life — the hamster wheel of an email inbox, the constant flood of WWW information which drowned his sanity”.
After one year of living without the Internet, Paul offers brilliant insight into his yearlong experiment and what it meant to him going forward. Allow me to sum it up in a few words: The Internet is not to blame for your problems; the moral choices that you face without the internet are not different from those that you face with the Internet. You are responsible.
Many many years before we invented the internet and before we begun speculating about social media and how it could be negatively impacting our personal life, relationships and our society, James Allen (1864-1912) had the following to say about the human condition in general:
“I looked around upon the world, and saw that it was shadowed by sorrow and scorched by the fierce fires of suffering. And I looked for the cause. I looked around, but could not find it; I looked in books, but could not find it; I looked within, and found there both the cause and the self-made nature of that cause. I looked again, and deeper, and found the remedy.
I found one Law, the Law of Love; one Life, the Life of adjustment to that Law; one Truth, the truth of a conquered mind and a quiet and obedient heart.”
In other words, when thinking about the things that make your life a living, it is always helpful to first start by looking inside; always. Do this as a matter of policy and you will not be further from the truth. You will not get lost in symptoms, because you will be looking at the real cause.