Why It’s Important We Remove Ourselves From The Internet

In modern business and life there’s hardly a moment where the internet is not begging for our attention! No matter how hectic things get, it’s important we all set time aside to completely unplug.

The internet is omnipresent in modern society. It is the ultimate tool—it has changed the way we interact with, think and feel about our surroundings. Saying this is nothing new; we’ve all heard about the cliche benefits and negatives of the internet: it has made our worlds bigger and smaller, it keeps us connected and pushes us apart, it liberates us or it makes us slaves to the black mirror.

There is definite truth in both of those statements. Like most tools, it’s how you use it that dictates how productive or meaningful your experience with that tool is. The difference between a mobile phone and an axe is that an axe isn’t going to glow and vibrate every few minutes begging for attention, even when there’s no more wood to chop. That’s not the only difference … the internet is a tool we can’t throw in the shed nor switch off, it’s too everywhere for that. We can’t put it away, but we can learn to remove ourselves from it.

Beginning of a sunset over Lake Taupo

Like many people, I rely on the internet for my business, and I’m using it from the early hours of the morning to the later hours of the night. CodeClouds has offices in multiple countries, so I am required to communicate within many different time zones! I receive a massive number of notifications every day and no matter how many I address, resolve or read, there will always be one more. It’s not the end of the world (it’s really just a reality of modern business) but it’s important for me and for my staff that we learn to unplug sometimes. Work/life balance is essential to our wellbeing and is a massively important value of CodeClouds!

Why Should We Remove Ourselves From the Internet?

Distraction and time wasting affects us all! What started out as watching one five minute clip of your favourite show has now become a two hour journey into your personal social media echo chamber and you’ve totally forgotten what you were doing.

In such cases, we’ve given into the short-term kicks that social media can give us. That little hit of dopamine when you get a notification is addictive, and makes us feel immediately good. When it wears off and we realise that we’ve done nothing meaningful with our time, we feel empty and that short term joy is replaced with stress: stress resulting from the lack of progress we made with something we found meaningful; stress resulting from the fact that the internet had bypassed our own willpower. The internet represents a lot of potential and power, but if you’re not careful, it will render you powerless!

This is not to say using the internet recreationally is negative. No, the internet is entertaining and there’s nothing wrong with entertainment; there’s a big difference between using the internet for something you’ve chosen to do and letting it take you for a ride.

Before carrying on, I’d like to acknowledge that I’m aware of the irony of this post. But, if spending five minutes of your time reading this helps you better use the internet going forward, it has served its purpose!

Removing Yourself From The Internet: What Does That Mean?

There are a few ways of doing this and one thing people like to do is remove themselves from the internet by going somewhere where they have no reception. This usually involves heading into nature: either going on a hike or going camping. Me personally, I enjoy going on a hike when I can getaway for the weekend and living in New Zealand—a bushwalk is never too far away, even from the city centre.

Hiking track on the Rimutaka Hill, Upper Hutt

Funny face on Remutaka Ranges, Upper Hutt

But I realise that heading into nature is not an option for everyone and, even if it is, it might simply not be to your taste. The other issue is that it doesn’t necessarily resolve the problems you have while in wifi range, and it’s not forever: sooner or later you’re going to need to come back into the world, and the wifi will be waiting for you.

Desert road intermission, family and friends taking pictures of Mount Ruapehu

It’s all about discipline and learning to coexist with the internet without it controlling you! Try turning off the majority of notifications on your phone. You don’t need to take this too far, you can still leave schedule reminders, calls and messages on vibrate—your loved one may need to reach you! Sure, you may miss the occasional notification, but that pales in importance to being more focused on your work or family, or being more involved in everyday activity and conversation. This may take some time to get use to and—at least at first—you’ll instinctively find yourself checking your device for updates, but have the discipline to put the device back in your pocket and refocus. Eventually, you will settle into a healthy balance and find your productivity increasing a surprising amount.

I’m forty this year. The Eternal September started in 1993 and didn’t really reach India until a few years later—the internet barely existed for a large part of my life. Even though I enjoy many of its benefits today, it’s empowering to know that I’m fine without it. Today’s youth cannot truly fathom a time without the internet, and so it’s even more important to have this conversation about removing ourselves, regaining control and finding balance.

Removing Yourself From Feedback

This is another aspect of the internet and social media that requires a lot more discussion then what I will cover in this article. You know what I’m talking about: likes, comments, upvotes, shares, plussies—whatever the platform uses. Receiving feedback and acknowledgement feels good, and we’re hardwired to seek it out. You’re human, and this sort of interaction makes the social parts of your brain fire off.

It can turn business into joy, sometimes: engaging with your audience is something that can make you genuinely happy while actually helping the bottom line. You don’t need to be afraid of this sort of interaction, so long as you’re not letting it control you. Paying close attention to these metrics in a business sense is positive but investing the same amount of attention in a personal context is when things become negative!

This sort of feedback is largely meaningless and leaves you prone to becoming reliant on them for self validation. Whether you receive one like on a post or 100,000—the value such numbers truly provide you is zilch. If you’re an Instagram user, you would have noticed that their posts no longer display the amount of likes a post receives. This change was made to reduce cyber bullying and the negative feelings people felt when not receiving the feedback they desired, which would’ve never been enough!

Viewing the Instagram Explore page in rustic café setting

This is not to suggest that receiving feedback is only negative, but when it has too much influence over your well-being, mental and way you spend your time, it’s probably time to remove yourself and reassess the value you place on this sort of interaction. Don’t seek validation unless it comes from people you genuinely value: your friends and family, colleagues and clients. Perhaps get literal validation and get your passport stamped: the world outside has got a lot to offer!

Establishing and supporting a healthy work/life balance is carried within all of CodeClouds’ activities. If you would like to work for a company that holds such values close, then I encourage you to learn more about the CodeClouds team. We’re always looking to hire skilled developers of all experience levels.

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