Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Six Ways Living Without The Internet Healed Me And My Family

You should get rid of your internet. Yes, you. The person reading this. Get Rid of Your Home Internet.

Why, do you ask? Oh, so many reasons.

For one, do you even know who you are without the internet? I mean, really? So many parts of us are online now. In today's world our feelings of self worth spring from what is said and done online. Too much of our time is spent cultivating and curating our image online.

I just spent a few months living without internet. I hope to spend the next few months doing the same! But here are some things I have noticed and learned about myself and the world, sans internet.

  • For the first time, I have only my own voice in my head
This one is hard to explain. I grew up with the internet. We had AOL when I was a preteen. I've always had access to the online world, and as a teen and young collage adult I spent a lot of time surfing the web. Direct and ready access to the web built up a lot of internal chatter! All those voices, in my head. Telling me what to think about this or that, what to cook, what to clean, what to do with my free time... I didn't know there were other voices in there until I got rid of the internet. (not actual voices, but hopefully you know what I mean) For example, when I would get bored at home when I had internet I would just get on the internet. But now, for the first time since I was a child, I was alone in my own head. If I was bored I had only my own thoughts to entertain myself. If I had a question, I could not google it. I was able to think through it and ponder whatever question I was postulating to myself. I have learned more about myself in the last few months just by being by myself and having only my own thoughts to springboard from. At first it was scary, to be cut off from what I now know I used as a safety net--but now it is wonderful.

  • The Internet Discourages Growth 
This one stems from the above point. Because all those voices were always telling me what to think and do, and because I never had to flex any mental muscles when questions would arise, I was stagnate. Why grow when everything is right at my fingertips? Why exert myself when I can, with a click of the keys, entertain myself for hours with videos and articles? The internet enables inactivity. If you are so busy cultivating an online image, your thoughts always crowded over with whatever everyone else is posting, thinking or doing, what mental energy do you have towards your own personal growth and development?

  • The Internet Breeds Consumerism 
Taking space from the internet also made me take space from internet ads. It felt like physical relief not to see advertisements for things everywhere. No Facebook ads. No YouTube videos. For the first time that I can ever remember I felt contentment. I wasn't comparing my kids to friends kids. I wasn't lusting after new houses or new cars whenever someone posted a picture. I finally started to love my house, and not nitpick over what I didn't have. The ads on the sidebars of sites would grab my attention. I was always planning what I should buy next and falling into the trap of "this would make my life better, this would make me happier". Well, it never did before, but it did help make companies money. Now I am much more content with what I have and I see clearly the lie that the internet has fed me for years: that what I have is not enough, that I need more--or "better" things in order to be happy and content. I don't. And there is so much freedom in that. 

  • I spend time with my kids
I mean, I used to spend time with my kids when I had the internet too. But my focus was never fully on them. I would have my phone with me, just in case I received a notification. I would often sit with them but listen to a podcast. Or watch a video while they played. Or take pictures to post to Instagram to show what a great mom I was. In short, half my brain was thinking about what I needed to do/see/experience online. Now, all of my brain is with my kids. I am able to be a fully engaged mom-- and my children have responded by becoming better behaved and less needy of my attention. I mean, they need me. But as I am able to fully give them my attention more times during the day instead of half my attention a few times--their cups are filled and they are happier because of it. Our household is a happier, more playful, more joyful place.

  • I deal with my own stress
I noticed that the internet comes between me and dealing with my own stress and problems. Without the incessant noise of the internet to distract me, I am able to better settle my issues instead of just distracting myself with YouTube or Facebook. Or, as often was the case, being so wrapped up online that I wouldn't even realize I had a problem in the first place.

  • The Internet Discourages Hard Work and Discipline 
As I have healed from my internet addiction and come to understand myself in ways I didn't even know I was missing out on, I have become a disciplined person. It just happened slowly over time. I haven't given it much thought. But, how has this happened? What changed? What lies was I believing before? It's a lot of different things at once.

As I have quit being distracted by the internet I have had more time and energy to devote towards my own personal growth.. The biggest shift, for me, was becoming content with my lifestyle. As I said above, I used to deal with feelings of discontentment and frustration over my perceived lack of possessions. I was living a consumerist lifestyle, moving from one purchase to the next, and trying to keep up with the posts and ads I saw online. I didn't have a joyful heart. And when I didn't have contentment in my heart I would watch lots of videos online to distract myself from my "hard life" so I wouldn't have to think about what I didn't have or couldn't buy at that moment. This was not a good cycle to be in, because watching videos would just remind me of more things I did not have... You get the idea.

Now, without the internet I see, finally, the value in the things I do have. I don't (usually) pine for things I don't have. I don't spend hours "fake shopping" online (as in, filling up my online shopping cart but never checking out) and I don't see ads that serve only to "remind me" of what I need to be happy. Cutting out all the impressionable ads with the rest of the "junk" on the internet allowed me to invest my time into actually cultivating my own life into a lifestyle that makes me satisfied and happy.

The internet does not want you to be happy. If you are happy, you are not consuming. If you are not consuming, the internet isn't making any money. It isn't getting your most valuable commodity: your time. If the internet can keep you in a state of need, living a consumerist lifestyle, always distracted by the next post--than it can keep both your happiness, your time, and your money in it's pocket. Don't let life pass you by being enslaved to the internet.

I actually have more points to write down, but this post is long enough already. I will make another post. I would encourage all of you to spend 1-3 months without home internet and see if you, too, have an internet addiction and if living without home/cell internet can change your life for the better. Can't hurt, right? It's only been positive around here!

I don't want my children to grow up always with the internet. It's up to me to show them healthy habits and teach them to create good boundaries with the online world. To do that, I have to heal myself of my own internet addictions. Good luck!