The internet is all around us, literally. You cannot go anywhere except for some extremely remote areas and be disconnected. The sad thing is that in a couple years this won’t be the case either. Facebook has created an initiative to bring the internet to even the most remote areas of the world. Nobody will be able to escape the grasps of the internet. Why do we think that internet connection is such a necessary tool? Is our society any better because of our ability to easily connect to the internet?
First, the internet was developed off of a US Department of Defense project, ARPANET, which connected a couple computers on a single network.1 I would bet that the DoD never predicted the size of today’s internet. There are now over 3.5 billion users of the internet.2 1.18 billion of that 3.5 billion use Facebook on a daily basis!3 There is a ton of information being uploaded, shared, and consumed every second. This creates such an overload to our minds that we can easily get addicted. Humans can develop this “fear of missing out” of information and social changes.
How many times do you check your phone/email daily? Maybe a more manageable way to phrase that question would be replacing the word daily with hourly. I can’t count the amount of time I am on my phone daily. There are too many times where my wife and I are sitting on the couch, Netflix streaming, and we are still both on our phones scrolling Facebook. There are times where conversations are going on and I am not listening because I am too enveloped in the internet. I am missing out on what actually matters because of this made up anxiety of something new on Facebook.
Physical human interaction is on the decline. There is nothing that will stop that train. Technology is making it easier for humans to stay indoors and talk through keystrokes. Every year we hit this time where holidays kit back to back. One common denominator between all of these holidays is family. But, how can we focus on family if we are too caught up in Googling “Top Black Friday Deals”? So, I challenge all of my readers to join me in a Disconnected December Challenge.
The Disconnected December Challenge (#Disconnect) is about gradually disconnecting from the internet from 1-25 December. The number of the day corresponds to the amount of hours that you need to disconnect from the internet. So, on 2 December you will need to disconnect for 2 hours and on 24 December you will be disconnected from the internet for an entire day. On 26 December you can go back to your normal internet consumption rate. The first week will be pretty easy. You won't even notice the time away. It is when you begin to enter 8+ hours disconnected that you will really notice a change. You will have less stress, more free time, and stronger relationships.
There are multiple ways to do this too. If you feel that disconnecting completely from the internet is too challenging; start by just disconnecting from social media or email. Either way, take this time to enjoy human contact and physical interactions. Take the time away from the internet to enjoy your family and absorb those holiday moments.