I actually did this, from July 2009-2010. I have to recommend against it.
Started off as a 'FUCK YOU' to AT&T, who screwed up setting up my Internet access, made me wait two weeks, then ended up saying they couldn't give me Internet access at all in my area, THEN SENT ME A BILL FOR IT. Long story on that, but tl;dr, they're evil, and I just said, "hell, why not, I can live without the internet"
I thought it would be sort of a 'challenge' at first. My god, how could we live without the internet, right?
It wasn't nearly as challenging as I had expected. I mean, I still had a job and a car, and stuff like buying groceries and walking in the park hadn't changed.
The minor conveniences really showed through. I had to use a PHONE BOOK to find a locksmith. A PHONE BOOK (really, first time in over 10 years). Booking plane tickets was a pain in the ass. Finding a newspaper or whatever to get movie showtimes. What time does this restaurant close, etc etc. What's going on I'm the city this weekend...
It became rather dull rather quickly. The movies, TV shows, and games I had saved on my computer became stale rather quickly. When I bought games in the store, they always ran like shit cause my comp wasn't patched. Had to have a friend get updates/drivers onto a CD, bleh (is that cheating?). Everything happened more slowly. You'd be surprised how much interesting stuff you have to talk and learn about of you actually read something that isn't cat pictures. And how boring you seem when you don't.
Regained some appreciation for 'old' forms of media, but was more often reminded of how much they suck. I fired through a lot of books, which was nice (and easier, when you're not getting bombarded with emails and facebook requests, and crap like that). Other than that, news from a paper or on TV is just insufferable. Ew.
Life just seemed to pass me by a bit more. I was always behind what games, movoesl and TV shows were hot, what news was interesting, how far battery technology or cell phone trends had developed (heh, I almost completely missed the decline of Blackberry).
Really hope you get to read this and it doesn't get buried. I'd recommend six months rather than a year. It's not nearly as challenging or rewarding as you'd think, it's just boring.
But congrats on the ambition. Hope it works out well for you!
[Edit] Glad enough people dug this up even with 700+ comments. A final thought I'd like to add is that you'd be surprised how many ways you use the internet indirectly. A celebrity or sports figure might make a big announcement on Twitter, someone calls you to tell that so-and-so just posted on facebook that they got engaged. You see a hardcopy of The Onion newspaper. Even mainstream news organizations get a lot of their content virally. You go to a party, and someone has an ipad hooked up to their sound system with Pandora streaming (yeah could do without that last one, I know).
I've always been amazed at how slow the 'dinosaurs' of established businesses are to pick up technology, but it's impressive to see even restaurant chains giving special perks if you "like" them on facebook or follow them on Twitter.
If nothing else, it's definitely obvious how much of life passes you by if you shut out technological changes. I missed out on so much in just a year... I'd feel like a complete moron if I had never bothered to use a computer ...can only imagine, but wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
If I was going to do something like this I think I would take it a step farther and eliminate more forms of technology like video games, computers, TV. Probably would keep a simple cell phone. Now that's a challenge.
Just eliminate all human interaction and culture. Live in the woods in a cabin and hunt for your food.
Better yet, forget all human technology. Live naked in a cave and hunt for food with your bare hands and then die of exposure.
Take it step further, abandon human food completely and live off sunlight.
Fuck the Sun, just live off of your will power.
abandon your will power! move back into a house with internet.
Aaaaaand we've gone full circle.
Turn into a jet. Bomb the Russians. Crash into the sun. Now I'm dead.
edit: forgetting to bomb the Russians.
I'm shocked this isn't higher up, I strongly recommend replacing calories with solar energy.
Honestly that very idea appeals to me greatly. A couple of my favorite books are Into the Wild and Robinson Crusoe. If I had a choice I would love to share the experience with at least one other person, though. Probably a lady.
Cool. Enjoy pooping outside and potentially dying.
Everybody poops. And everybody dies. What you do in between the poopin' and before the dyin' makes a difference, though.
I appreciate the concern! I'm still going ahead with it, but will watch out for the traps you mention. Maybe I'll like being bored? I have a lot of crazy experiments to try out along the way, so that might help me out. Plus I really do want to read a lot of books!
Read books about the Internet -- and, you know, how great it is.
Maybe you're just looking at it the wrong way. I mean, I totally respect your first-hand experience, but to be honest when you say things like,
Life just seemed to pass me by a bit more. I was always behind what games, movoesl and TV shows were hot, what news was interesting, how far battery technology or cell phone trends had developed (heh, I almost completely missed the decline of Blackberry).
it makes me think that your version of "life" is exactly what this guy and many others are trying to get away from. The point is to realize that life does not equal "hot" tv shows and freaking Blackberry. Maybe you should have spent that time talking to other people, getting outside, traveling, reading, volunteering, or doing other activities.
Now, obviously I use the internet, so I'm not trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The internet is an incredible tool. BUT it's just a tool. NOT REAL LIFE. If your life is dull without it, you should probably face up to reality that you're living a dull life anyway, you just pacify yourself with this fantasy world. If people want to live in the matrix that's their prerogative, but don't pretend it's real life.
You do have a good point, but maybe it's more the lack of my ability to articulate and write... those were the most glaring examples, but certainly my 'life' didn't revolve around those things.
I was living in downtown Chicago at the time, and there was always plenty to do (and I got out plenty). Blues fest, Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, museums, beaches... had it all, a ton more to life than sitting at a computer. But after ripping that part away completely, it was a strong reminder of how much you do read and learn online, and how much of that contributes to real-life activities (such as hitting up meetup.org to organize outdoor trips, etc).
Your phone battery life is going to be phenomenal.
Hell, he may even have to use it as a phone again!
Must have been born in the 80s.
More like phonenomonal.. Heh
Alright, i'm leaving.
If someone gives you a GIF on a USB drive, can you watch it?
Always. Always and forever.
Sorry I'm late guys.
Took you long enough, fucker.
what is going on here
I think my favorite is how you made this account, forgot about it for 30 minutes, then remembered you had to go insult someone.
Get out of here, TIR brings hate with him everywhere, do you want a fuck_faceplain?!
You...er...god's work.....my bunk.....
where's the guy who normally says "fuck you" after everyone of your posts? I think he took a break. What a machine you are!
I, too, eagerly await his arrival.
Redditor for 22 minutes
I got the same thing and was confused. My confusion has not subsided.
Came here to say something about time travel.
GUYS I'm here from the future to tell you something! Don't use RES, in 20 years RES will cause all babies to be Benjamin Buttons! in reality that man died almost a year ago!
Seriously, who gives a crap? Novelty accounts are exactly the same thing whether they're 20 minutes or 5 years old. They're made for one joke, and that's it.
Hm, a single number is an odd response to a comment. Oh well
Scumbag Redditor. Doesn't get novelty. Is a novelty.
If you had to guess what your one cracking point would be, what would it be?
This was exactly what I expected.
What about Reddit :(
Most of Reddit is porn, so we can assume Reddit to be a subset of his answer.
that was not what I expected.
You can only watch the same porn so many times...
Backdoor Sluts 9 makes Naughty Nurses 2 look like Crotch Capers 3
I will report back later to confirm.
Back from the bunk, I can confirm this.
Oh God. Thank you. I just took a short break.
dont even get me started on how "The Blackest Hole 3" totally stole that one alien anal scene from "Awesome Alien Anal 4: Spring Break".
That's why you fill a 2-TB hard drive with it.
Each clip is good only for 7FAPS.
You can still buy magazines if you are not ashamed to buy them.
There are XXX DVD stores on 9th avenue and 45-52nd street. He'll live
You can buy them anonymously on the intern-- oh.
I hope you backed up a lot of porn onto a spare hard drive
He could get a sexual partner, this idea seems to elude reddit.
Wait.... you can have sex with another person. TIL
Don't bother, it's not as good as porn. I tried it once and it turns out you can't actually do it for free unless you go and do a bunch of magic "emotions" bullshit.
Not if you're in college!
But then paying for college ends up being more expensive anyway.
Nothing is free buddy...you always pay somehow.
I do that all the time, all you need to do is sit on your arm for a while first.
Wow that's a really good idea. Then he could masturbate while he watches her. The advances you've made, sir.
I've had the same sexual parter for a while. This is precisely why I need internet porn.
One word: Magazines
I AM 20 AND WHAT IS THIS
BACK IN MY DAY WE FAPPED TO SCRAMBLED CABLE PORN.
BACK IN MY DAY WE FAPPED TO SCRAMBLED EGGS.
THEY WERE DESPERATE TIMES
EXCEPT FOR POULTRY FARMERS
Wow, they still make those? TIL.
They still make them, and my local gas station still SELLS THEM!
I had a threesome once. Two magazines open at the same time.
So he can blog about it.
What's he going to do for a follow up act? Live strictly on the internet and not leave the house for a year? Ah fuck, I just gave him his next idea...
YES. Man, do you want royalties or just a credit in the liner?
Why about physical isolation? No contact with the world except Internet and phone. It will provide an excellent co-commentary on the digitization of culture in the 21 century.
That's pretty much what I do already. AMA
Alright, so- Is the world going to shit?
Yeah. World of Warcraft is kinda going to shit; I'm going to Guild Wars 2.
you know with google voice and other integrated services and VOIP technology on all phones now .... you can never really leave the internet. TV on demand, Netflix, Hulu, Kindle, i mean how deep are you cutting your self off? Are you having no internet connected devices at all? So dumb phone for mobile? No more Multiplayer video games? No more streaming services? No more amazon? I mean how far are you taking it.
This would be an interesting thing, though I know it's been done before.
Hell, I have always wanted to live strictly online for a year (Well, online and phone to order from places), and stream my entire apartment for that year.
Well, okay stream most of my apartment, there are places I would not stream.
Two weeks. Tops.
Isn't this similar to saying "I'm going to live without electricity for a year"? You're going to make your life inherently more difficult while attempting to continue your job that requires you to constantly be up to date, all to prove....what? That the internet makes you a different person?
You're not even going to be truly giving up the internet. In order for you to function as a journalist in the tech field, you have to get your information from somewhere. Books and magazines are published too infrequently and don't contain the requisite data. You'll still be using telephones (a basic vocal form of internet), and you'll still have friends that will tell you data from the internet. So perhaps it would be easier to live in the woods somewhere, because otherwise you're just making some aspects of your life harder while maintaining the same addiction to information, if it should be called an addiction at all.
Personally, I find it just as much of a publicity stunt as living without electricity for a year. I wish you good luck, and I hope you find something meaningful, other than realizing that the internet is a useful tool for making your life easier. And, yes, I realize some might say it's an addiction, but the world moves faster than before the internet, and information changes faster every day. I wish you well, and I look forward to reading your journal entries.
I think it would almost be impossible to be alive in the modern world today without feeling the effects of the internet. I think the decisions I'm making will have a serious impact on my daily life, and it's that impact that I'm seeking and interested in.
My addiction to information might still exist, but it will at least be constrained in certain ways.
Whatever you do, don't assuage your addiction to information by watching Fox News all day.
Of course it's a publicity stunt.
I know everyone at the Verge is kind of a hipster... but congrats on becoming the Michael Jordan of hipsters.
Working at a tech internet news site and not using the internet essentially because it is 'too main stream'. F***ing genius!
I recommend carrying around a camera that uses film, a pager and if you are going to use a cellphone, make it one of those giant 80s ones.
God's speed sir.
If you're going to be a hipster, you might as well go all the way, right? However, I'm not going freegan or starting a vegetable garden or doing any leatherwork while I'm away.
You should really start a vegetable garden. It's rewarding and tasty.
Yeah I was like that's hipster?
Maybe it's hipster to have a garden in NY?
Vegetable gardens are over!
No question, but I'm looking forward to the followup AMA on May 1, 2013.
or May 2, 2012
This is a good question. Should I come back May 1 2013 or May 2?
You're leaving at 0001 May 1st, so you should return 0001 May 1st.
I think the whole idea is fairly useless, but good luck.
Cinco de Mayo. Come back triumphantly, in spanish!
I'm a chef. I'm going a year without food. Next year I will be back with new and shocking insights about cooking.
Good luck not dying.
You do realize Diablo 3 comes out in 15 days right?
Wait 10 years for game... give up internet for a year two weeks before it comes out
Realistically, let's say your friend or significant other or family member is watching a movie on Netflix and invites you to sit down. You protest: "No, I can't do that. Let's go to Blockbuster." Don't you think this will put people off, like a vegetarian who ruins a meal by declining to eat anything or inconveniences the group by insisting on going to a veg-friendly place?
Maybe you should be lax on this one.
Edit: sorry, not "ruin." I like my veg friends and definitely support the movement on environmental (and to a lesser extent ethical) grounds, but sometimes it's a hassle. When so much of our socializing revolves around eating, it's no surprise you're going to see some conflict between people with different diets.
I don't want to be an asshole, but all my friends and fam have been very supportive so far, so I think they'll understand. I recently learned that Jackass 3 was a dry set to Steve-O's addiction recovery. So maybe it will be a little like that.
They did all the stuff in Jackass 3 SOBER?!?
no, the set was dry
Steve-O was sober.
Netflix is a gateway drug.
I'm vegetarian (born into a Brahmin Hindu family, never eaten meat). I hang out with a whole bunch of meat lovers. I usually try not to inconvenience them (even been to places like Korean bbq) because most places usually have something I can eat (not Korean bbq though...), but they're usually pretty nice to me.
I'm sorry if you have vegetarian friends who ruin your meals, I just hope we're not all like that.
You're not all like that, but the good ones aren't vocal, so there is a confirmation bias against outspoken vegetarians.
My ex came from a background like yours. She never asked me to give up meat, but I offered to keep beef and pork out of the house, only having them when I was out somewhere, and go mostly vegetarian other than a little chicken or shrimp on occasion at home - and only on separate cookware and dishes than what she used. She was so .... something... hard to put it in words... and so sweet... she actually offered to try to learn to cook me steaks and things, but I just couldn't let her do that. I wanted a semi-traditional Indian household, a place she would feel at home and comfortable. By the way, I'm a white American atheist. I have no idea why I'm telling you this story except your comment made me think of her, and I miss her... she was absolutely lovely.
Nenu ninnu premisthunannu, Anuradha...
I think these days it would be "Let's go to RedBox".
What if the Paper app adds a new brush that you need to download?
Are you doing this for a story?
What do you think is going to be the most difficult aspect of this experiment?
I will be writing about my experiences a lot, but it's also a personal journey.
The toughest thing is not being able to research stuff I want to write about, and not being able to track down sources.
So you're going to throw floppies at Topolsky's head now?
- "Hey, Topolsky"
- "Hey, Miller"
- "I'm done with this review of Snake '97, publish it, bitch!"
I def had a version of Snake for the Mac on floppy. 8/10 stars.
So, how are you going to write about new technology? Is it going to me more interview and hands-on based reviews?
Yeah, probably. I will get newspapers and magazines, and be able to talk to my colleagues, so I'll be semi-current.
With gadgets that have internet connectivity, will part of your review be about internet speeds and so forth?
Lucky for me I don't do a lot of reviews. Maybe I'll start reviewing 5-year-old MP3 players.
Honestly, I don't get a lot of tech when it's BRAND NEW because it's never cheap. Reviewing things that are a bit dated could be nice.
...or you could just read the reviews from when the stuff was released.
A lot of times the "wow" factor of a new item rubs off as it's copied and improved. Patches/firmware can fix bugs, and add utility. Durability is obviously something that can't really be reviewed without a few years to show the main breaking points.
I'd love to read reviews of older tech that were made with the modern perspective.
Old cheap, but good, budget technology :)
I like it when i see an amzing 10* review for a 3 year old game that i missed out on knowing i can quickly get it for a few $ instead of paying $60 when it came out
Go download Wikipedia!
by the end you won't have much up to date information, but its still more up to date than most encyclopedias out there.
OMG! How are you going to deal with the suspense of WWDC this year?
A lot of pacing.
Who is going to buy him reddit gold, just so they can quote Isn't It Ironic by Alanis Morissette.
Is the because of your experience with SkyDrive? DAMNIT Microsoft.
What pains me the most is that I'll never know the full joys of using SkyDrive and OneNote.
So you're predicting they're both dead in a year?
HEARD IT HERE FIRST FOLKS
Are you hoping that by the time you come back Wifi calling and HD voice are widespread?
They'd better be. Otherwise I'll do another year.
What do Nilay and Josh think about this?
I loved this idea when Paul told me. It's extreme, but that's what I like about it. In a way, I want to live vicariously through Paul on this — I think we all have this instinct at one point or another. Paul is living it, and it's really exciting! 1000% support FOREVER.
Is Josh the greatest Reddit lurker of all time? 1.25 years, no comments. Until today.
Either that or he deletes his posts.
this is my first comment and i've been on reddit for 6 years.
Liar. You commented 4 years ago.
They're paying me! So that says a lot. Nilay said he was really happy and excited for me, and then I almost started crying.
And what about Josh? If I were running something as large as The Verge, I would be nervous if one of my writers told me he was quitting the internet.
He's really excited for me too. At first I wasn't even sure if I could do this with a job at The Verge, but he made it happen.
Upcoming vergecasts are going to be amazing and hilarious! Good luck Paul!
Eh, it'll generate more interest in the website. Every week on the vergecast I'm sure they'll bring the whole "Paul has no internet" thing into the mix. It'll offer a pretty interesting perspective.
QUICK. Print up every Wikipedia article, just in case.
UGH. Ran out of toner :(
he could also just download wikipedia. He can still use a computer.
Will you still be on the vergecast?
How will you survive without eSports?
Would it be cheating to go to a live esports event? Obviously a barcraft would be out of the question.
Would it be cheating to go to a live esports event?
I guess not, but a lot of the "non-internet" alternatives to our common pastimes seem to not be free. Have you considered the financial impact of not using the internet?
I think some things will cost a lot more, but other things won't even come up, so I won't know what I'm missing. So more ripoffs, less impulse buys. We shall see!
No it wouldn't.
How will you be writing about tech and leaving the internet for a year? Explain please. I'm confused.
Was there tech before the internet? I hope to find out!
But won't you be inconveniencing your employer quite a bit because of this? As a routine, I guess you would have subscribed to a lot of Google & twitter feeds to follow the web. Now, you are going to do it through TV and newspapers that are at least a few hours old.
Worse, as an old time journo, you travel to attend press conferences. Engadget is going to livecast the event. You will be storing it and sharing it over a USB drive which means the Verge loses to Engadget on freshness. Why would I want to visit Verge in that case?
EDIT : Good luck man. Given a choice, I would like to try something similar that includes gadgets as well. There is so much of an information overload right now and I want to give my brains some rest too.
How does your brother, Ross, feel about this?
I plan on using the internet twice as much to restore balance, starting now to add the usual (no relation) tag to this thread.
He's been giving me a lot more noogies lately. But I got the last laugh when he got grounded for not cleaning his room.
Wouldn't 3 months be long enough?
3 Hours for most redditors.
How do your parents feel about this?
My mom just called me and wished my luck! She's going to mail me some records I used to listen to growing up.
Cool! Join us in /r/vinyl....oh yeah, shit sorry...
How do your friends feel about this?
I'll probably inconvenience them more than I'll inconvenience myself.
Are you including internal networks and home networks in this "ban"? Could you watch a streamed movie from your home computer? Can you receive a file from a coworker via intranet at The Verge?
I could do local networking, but I'm really scared of "accidentally" getting on the internet, just because I have wi-fi on. We'll see if I can clean room it.
Well if you just pull the internet cable off your wireless router you will eliminate the accidental chances of internets. Also, you better hope Blizzard adds LAN mode to Heart of the swarm LOL
You could probably change your DNS settings to a server that doesn't exist so this way you can do local networking but nothing "outside".
Been a huge fan of yours for 2-3 years now! Was there a singular source of inspiration for this "no-internet" pursuit, or has it been brewing for a long time?
Big fan here. Listen to the podcast every week, been following TIMN --> The Verge transition. Great stuff. But this is a really dumb idea. Here are some equally stupid suggestions.
IAmA Fisherman. I won't visit bodies of water for the next year.
IAmA Food Critic. I won't go out to eat for a year.
IAmA Plumber. For a year, I'm walking away from tools.
I mean if you wanna take a year off, go for it, but don't mask it in this nonsense.
There is a common technique in many cultures / religions to fast from the very thing that you love the most, to appreciate it more, or to appreciate the supplier of it more. A year might be stretching it, but it's a similar idea.
Most (if not all) of the answers from futurepaul (updated: May 01, 2012 @ 10:11:35 pm EST):
but dont forget you also cant use Wifi at a public place as well as just checking emails. No Internet means also not writing email and someone sends them as well. Dont fake it. And come back in a year and tell us how you did.
By the way if you have different email accounts i suggest buying Premium. Since your email accounts get deleted if you dont visit them for some time. At least I was told so.
Hmm, I'll look into that premium thing.
remember when you trolled the internet and wrote about how awesome the blackberry storm keyboard was http://www.engadget.com/2008/10/08/blackberry-storm-9500-hands-on/
In all seriousness I wish you the best of luck Paul. The pieces you've written on wifi calling, Robotics and Starcraft have all been superb. I usually wont sit down and read long form content on tech websites but I do for your pieces. I'll continue following your work during your internet blackout.
This is my biggest regret in my career.
Thanks for the support!
Paul, Thanks for doing the AMA. Can you go into more details about your disconnect? (eg, why are you going offline? how will you write about tech while disconnected?)
I'm going offline to see what it's like! Since my whole teenage and adult life has been on the internet, I don't have any perspective on how the internet impacts me personally and creatively (it's obviously been a boon for me professionally).
As for writing about tech, I have to figure out how to do research. A lot of my writing will probably be about my no-internet adventures. I'll submit stories on thumb drives... sneakernet!
On The Verge you said you were also going to try and not use texting. Why go that far?
I predict in a year you will be a saner, relaxed, reflexive and more thoughtful person, being freed of the constant barrage of information and shouting that passes for 'conversation' on the interwebs.
That is, if you survive the first two months without killing someone on a café just to snatch his iPhone. Good luck.