Spending time without the internet…

I rarely used the internet before I started my university course, but when I did start to use it, I joined the other 36 million people in the UK (that’s 73% of the UK population), and existed online daily, doing really inane, pointless things. From scouring eBay along with its self-proclaimed 14 million other users, to watching videos of metal concerts and game trailers by joining half of all internet users and visiting YouTube, I was (and still am) making a pitiful contribution and use of the world wide web.

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But I can’t be the only one to feel like I’ve wasted a fair bit of my time online. 1 billion people use the internet every week, and a massive 83% of UK households have access to the internet. What’s more is we use it a lot, and more people are gaining internet access. A survey by the Guardian shows that there has been an increase of 20 million households with online access since 2006. So it’s certainly safe to conclude that using the internet is considered more “normal” than not.

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According to go-gulf.com, internet users spend at least 22% of their online time visiting social media sites, and I do have profiles on Facebook and Twitter, with its 554 million users (statisticbrain.com), but I’m not sure I use either in a particularly meaningful way.

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In any case, an article from the Daily Mail (using quotes from legitimate psychologists, apparently) has suggested that not using Facebook can make one seem antisocial, or furthermore, a “psychopath”. Apparently, it is highly suspicious for a member of the younger generation to not have a Facebook profile, as it is now “the norm” to have one; – according to expandingramblings.com, over 1.15 billion other people have one, don’t you know.

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Anyway, for about five weeks before I resumed my university course, I didn’t have any internet access. I assumed I’d miss Facebook or Googling things like 1 billion other people do every day, so I sulked over the phone at the poor TalkTalk customer advisor, who, bless his heart, apologised that the spoilt girl on the other end of the line would have to wait over a whole month until someone could come set everything up. I had already been without internet for a week and was internally screaming that I’d missed an episode of Breaking Bad.

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However, on the whole, I barely missed the internet. Aside from certain shows and an itch to look at Iron Fist’s glorious shoe sale, I wasn’t missing anything. I’ll admit, like Megan Durisin of BusinessInsider.com, I also think online banking is the way forward, so I skulked over to Starbucks for a smoothie and a glance at my online RBS account. But apart from that, I found it unexpectedly easy to be internet-free. I read books, enjoying them far more than I thought I would. I baked, I generally slept better, and I indulged in long phone-calls with people I’d usually just message on Facebook.

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Before I started writing this, I hadn’t used the internet in over 24 hours to have an even fresher experience of being without it. When I did briefly use it before switching off, I lingered on Facebook, depressing myself and really not caring (to the point of feeling resentment) that someone was mad with their parents for not getting them an expensive enough car, or that GCSEs are unnecessary when you have ‘swag’. It’s hardly surprising when according to The Economist, Facebook is associated with jealousy, social tension, isolation and depression. 

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Although I’m not saying this is true for everyone, I find the internet to be something that gives me an excuse to procrastinate, mashes my productivity, and sometimes induces a permanent state of sluggish boredom within me. Again, this probably isn’t universal, plus I play video games pretty frequently (lots more than using the internet if I can help it) and didn’t disqualify them during the 24 hours my router was off. Some would probably argue games can have a similar effect in that they might become a distracting and often sedimentary part of a person’s lifestyle.

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So, because the only technology I have any real interest in revolves around console gaming, I am not among the rest of the nation who, according to Ofcom, are apparently addicted to smartphones. My phone is not smart, but it is pink. I don’t even use it for anything other than texting or calling. Anyway, being addicted to smartphones probably boils down to being addicted to the internet and whatnot. But the internet isn’t necessarily bad, or evil. In proportion, it can be great, like many things. For example, Match.com claims that one in five relationships begin online. I don’t have any dating site to thank, but I ‘met’, or discovered, the person I now live with online. There’s all kinds of brilliant things you can do and learn about online, but it sure doesn’t hurt to take a break from it once in a while. Give it a try.

836 words.

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