Living in the outernet with occasional visits beyond

10 November 2016
Let's just make this clear at the beginning. I LOVE the internet. In my opinion, the internet is the single most important innovation to have happened in my lifetime. It has helped people and communities unite; it abolished many invisible doors that kept ordinary people away from power; it's enabled many to publish books and their own thoughts for the world to see; it's brought experts in various fields into remote areas to give advice and ideas directly to the people who need their help; it gives us more information at a finger stroke than was ever available in the libraries of my youth; it helps develop friendships and sometimes love; it enables all of us to roam the virtual world so that we can look at towns and cities we will never visit and the top of mountains we will never climb; we can watch bears catching fish, live, in a remote wild river; we can visit each others homes and watch families grow and we celebrate births and marriages and mourn the death of friends we've never met. We can also shop on the internet, pay bills, get an education at home and work hundreds of kilometres away from our place of employment. 

The internet is a great teacher and we use it to learn how to sew, knit, create a garden, make jam, baskets, soap and hundreds of other things by googling our interest and choosing from a wide selection of offerings. Without the internet you wouldn't know I exist and I would never have known how many people all over the world share my values, work ethic and beliefs. It's not all light and hope though. The internet has brought us a lot of ugliness, cruelty and despair too. But that's another story for another time. To put it in a nutshell, the internet opens up opportunities, both good and bad, that can change lives.

But it has to be balanced by spending time in the outernet. Problems are created when balance isn't there every single day because of the temptation to spend hours online.

When I closed my business and started working at home I didn't have enough hours in the day to do everything I wanted to do. My main aim was to produce a lot of what I used to buy, to make my home a place I felt comfortable in, to change my home so it facilitated the work I wanted to do and to be creative enough to satisfy the part of me that needs intellectual stimulation. So I planned creative work into my ordinary days and started to build a life that was slow, simple, plain and satisfying.

The creation of that new life gave me more chances to use my computer but apart from the forum and my blog, I consciously restricted my hours on the internet.  I didn't want to experience life through a screen because real life gave me so many opportunities to see, feel, know, touch, smell and experience.  And that has changed me in profound ways. I'm a different person now and I think that has come about because I actively lived life and not just watched it.

How do you deal with the internet? Do you restrict yourself or are you living life online?