Can we reclaim our agency by putting the internet in its place?

I found this Raptitude piece powerful enough to plan an internet sabbatical. This is how he describes his reclaimed agency, leaving beside a chronic state of ‘semi-doing’, once disconnected from the internet:

This simplicity was disorienting in a way. Many times a day I would finish whatever activity I was doing, and realize there was nothing to do but consciously choose another activity and then do that. This is how I made my first bombshell discovery: I take out my phone every time I finish doing basically anything, knowing there will be new emails or mentions or some other dopaminergic prize to collect. I have been inserting an open-ended period of pointless dithering after every intentional task.

With my phone parked in a cardboard pouch taped to my kitchen wall, this ritual was unavailable, so I again and again found myself hitting a kind of intentionless vacuum, where nothing would happen until I consciously formed a new intention to get on with the day, in a way of my choosing. I can’t convey the strangeness of this feeling — it was like repeatedly discovering that I had misplaced my cane again, only to remember I can walk just fine.

Life seemed quieter — calm and simple and local to the room I was in, like it does after a spa visit or meditation retreat. Even the experience of passive entertainment became simpler and less stressful. If I put on a movie, I would simply watch the movie until it was either over or it was clear I’d rather do something else. Then I would go and do something else, rather than drift away into my phone, where I would browse my WhatsApp chats, skip through people’s boring Instagram stories, or look up how old the actors were during filming.

I really like his metaphor of the cord which we pull to escape our interiority. It’s a tick which enables us to break the flow of experience, relieving the inner tension which is so often involved in being a person thrown into a world over which we have limited control. His point is not to reject the internet but to put it back in a box in the basement i.e. use it rather than live in it, paraphrasing one of my favourite Mark Fisher quotes.

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