Spontaneous Disconnection

I’m back! You can follow my shenanigans on Twitter.

Since I started Minimal Student, my once a week posting schedule has forced me to reach for my laptop at least once every few days to write posts, answer email and reply to comments. Not to mention all of the other habits I’ve developed whilst being connected, like constant checking and refreshing like a crazy person.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely cherish all of you guys, and I’m not against technology or the internet in general, but as the last few months of my year abroad approaches, I decided to spend some time travelling.

And so I did. In three weeks I visited ancient temples, rock gardens, a castle, I photographed cherry blossoms, attended festivals, had a mud, herbal and oxygen bath (all separately), did karaoke all night and went to the biggest aquarium in the world, amongst other things. Sometimes I travelled alone, sometimes with companions, but never with my laptop. No facebook, no twitter, no blogging.

I spontaneously disconnected.

At first it was hard. Bad things have happened to my blog when I had left it before, not to mention dozens of other worries I had: What if someone tweets a really inspiring quote? What if I don’t untag an unflattering picture of me on facebook? What if all my readers leave me?

I know that to some people, not having the internet is almost horrifying. I have to admit that I had a few worries too, but I soon forgot about them as I got lost in my travelling. After a few days, my online presence (or lack of it) didn’t even come to mind at all.

What I learned is that we worry way too much about staying connected. We crave updates and notifications and we think we need all information at our fingertips all the time. It feels nice to know that people want to contact you or they need you in some way. But we only crave it to inflate our egos.

When I finally got back and found the time to log on, I realized that I hadn’t lost all of my readers (in fact, I had even gained some) and although I had a lot of various notifications, none of them were very important at all.

I went against my fears, they never came true, and I was rewarded with the time of my life.

how to disconnect and disappear (even for just a little while)

1. Disconnect your real self from your online self. Despite what people think, you are not who you are online. You exist as a genuinely amazing person without all of the extra fluff and anonymity of the internet to big you up. You don’t have to tell everyone what you’re up to all the time, neither do you have to know what everyone else was up to. Be strong and realize that people won’t miss you as terribly as you thought, but that’s okay. At least now you can…

2. Go somewhere, and just do something. There’s no point disconnecting if you’re not going to do something better to replace it. Pick a place, a person or a goal. Admit that the internet was distracting you and but now you can do whatever you put your mind to. Work on your life goal, or else do something worthwhile.

3. Cut the chains. When you come back (if you decide to!), you’ll see just how many things used up you time and attention online, although you didn’t need it. If you survived the disconnection, perhaps all of those things weren’t so important after all. Cut off all of the relationships that don’t give back as much as you give in, unsubscribe to all of the blogs that are wasting your time, the newsletters that clutter your inbox and any services and sites that you don’t use.

If you’re brave enough to take up the challenge, disappear from the interwebs for a few days, a week or even two. (You’re permitted to tell a few people in case they think you’ve leapt off a high place).

Go do something amazing … then, don’t update your status.

  • http://lawactually.blogspot.com Michael

    What if someone tweets a really inspiring quote?
    Wow… do these things actually exist then?… I can’t be following the right kind of people on twitter! :p

  • http://www.promptretirement.com Ravi Gupta

    You make a great point. There are times where I travel and don’t have time for the internet and it turns out that I don’t miss it one bit. I comment on many blogs every single day and while it’s fun, it’s starting to get old, add to the fact that it’s repetitive. In the end the extra blog traffic isn’t worth it, nor is the worrying. I think I’ll be trying an experiment to cut out several social media sites and stop commenting to see what happens. I think it will be interesting.

    -Ravi Gupta

  • Layla

    Good timing: for a month this summer I’m going to volunteer on a farm in an isolated location…with no internet! I’m looking forward to it – mostly because it’s exciting that I’m going but also because I don’t have to keep up with everything.

    Gmail, facebook, my to-do list, worrying about networking and improving my resume for when I graduate, worrying about passing everything so that I can graduate, worrying about doing well in everything in case I want to do graduate studies…

    It’s nice to get away from that.

    Pretty picture by the way. I always thought they exaggerated the prettiness of cherry blossoms in pictures/sailor moon.

  • http://asias99problems.blogspot.com/ Asia

    I love your blog. Excellent. :)

  • Brandon

    One of your new readers here!

    I am enjoying the archives and look forward to more of your writing.

  • http://www.motleyhealth.co.uk Jon

    Great advice. Many people refer to this as compartmentalizing your life. Ensuring that there are clear barriers between work, study, family, pleasure etc.

    Some people thrive by being on the go all the time, networking with business colleagues during free time etc. Others (like me) prefer to keep the 2 separate.

    You did well to walk away. A little tip – just backup your site before walking away next time. If anything really bad happens, you can just roll back the server.

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