Exile Part 3: Conclusion, Cravings and Stolen Thunder

After two weeks in the wilderness, I am “back”. I can now use Twitter and Facebook again like I used to before the self imposed ban on websites. It’s also good to get back onto my iPhone, not for the access to the internet, but for the ease of only having to carry the one device around with me to work. The days of having to carry a massive phone and a Sony Discman are so far in the past now anyway.

What did I learn? Nothing really. Nothing that I didn’t already know. I can live easily without both websites, and will actually keep doing so – I may have posted a bit on Twitter yesterday, but I will become more an observer than a poster. On Facebook too, I will become more a lurker than a poster, having only looked at it yesterday fleetingly during an exchange with an older flat mate.

The funny thing is I am by no means the first person to do so – in fact, this weekend the Observer had a piece where the writer did the same thing as me, going as far to actually stop using the internet all together. I think that’s a bit of a stretch – you see, emails have the problem of assumed reading. Imagine you called someone and they didn’t answer, you take that as a response. You haven’t had the chance to answer the question, so you cannot get annoyed about the lack of a solution. If you send an email you, after a while, assume the person has read it and then the annoyance and impatience starts to build. Where’s my reply? Why are they ignoring it? Do they know the answer? If I were to draw for the internet completely (and emails) I would miss out on a lot, especially stuff integral to my day to day working.

That’s the problem with the way we work in this office. Essential comments on documents are emailed, essential instructions are emailed… very little is formally handed to me on my desk. It makes sense, environmentally, but if the emails were to crash… boy oh boy I’d have nothing to work with.

Did I miss the sites? I missed Facebook most because people were pointing it out and mentioning it to me, sometimes almost tantalisingly so. A few times I missed out on some banter, only later to be advised “It was on Facebook”. And a few people texted me saying “Ah, I was going to Facebook you but you’re on exile” which was refreshing. Human interaction is more fulfilling without the internet.

The biggest shock was the activities I replaced my Facebook / Twitter time with. At work I replaced it with Work, or talking to people in the Office, or going for lunch. At home was the biggest change though – instead of spending 20 minutes looking at photos I was reading a book, playing my Xbox, listening to music; just sitting, in my room, with a new album on with nothing else to distract me was something I’d not done ina long time. I also went out at the weekend walking, I read more newspapers and went to gym more (though, that’s not really that big a consequence).

The second biggest shock was the realisation how often I looked at my iPhone. At first I’d pull out my Nokia just because that’s what I would’ve done with the iPhone and every time I did it there was a flash of stupidity. Now, I can say hand on heart that anyone who is talking to me, hanging out with me or asks me to “check on the phone” I will resist. I am removing all the stupid little applications from the Phone as I type this, to stop me from faffing around. “There’s an app for that” is so true, but there’s also a time for that, and that time is not when you are with those you care about or doing something with. My iPhone is great to have back, but the features I used the most are the worst thing about having it and I don’t need them, nor do I want to use them. Consider my self schooled properly on that side of things.

Is it a surprise I enjoyed my time away? Of course not. What was surprising was how easy it actually is. Or is that even that surprising? I think my next project will be not getting the bus at all for two weeks, or using my car. That might be interesting. Funnily enough, that was my punishment for not surviving the two weeks…