Aaaah, the Christmas holidays—aren’t they wonderful? Almost two weeks of family and friends, indulgent food and generally trying to relax. But this year’s holiday period was a little different—I managed to almost entirely avoid the internet. Okay, not the whole internet. I made a few choice purchases in the sales. I’m really talking about avoiding the channels I usually crave, such as social networks and email. For a whole two weeks. And it was awesome.
This might sound like an odd thing for a web professional to say. Surely, I LOVE the internet? But for perhaps the first time I’m not looking forward to reinstating my daily routine of trawling through email, tech blogs, Twitter and podcasts. I usually consume this information because it seems essential, a burden put upon me by either myself or my industry. There’s certainly a pressure to ‘keep up’, to be in the know—either socially or professionally. But I’m disillusioned with the cognitive flood. We feel like we must put ourselves out there, that we must share to advance our careers or our personal lives. That we will never make it in life without being part of the Twitterati clique. God forbid I might miss a few conversations on Twitter, or the latest event being broadcast live on The Verge.
And it goes deeper than just the information overload. The internet has become a nasty place and I’m not the only one who believes it. I’ve started listening to Benjamin Walker’s The Dislike Club, a miniseries podcast featuring like-minded guests discussing the same issues, particularly around privacy and trolling. It’s depressing to think that barely a day goes by without someone receiving death threats for having an opinion in the public domain. Or that I can’t trust any organisation with my data, either because they knowingly use it for their own evil means, or because they will eventually get hacked. Perhaps it’s best just to avoid these platforms altogether, as is the mantra of The Dislike Club.
So what will I do about it? At the moment I don’t have the answer. But the good news is that I work in the web industry. So perhaps I can find a way to improve things, if only by a little.