I went an entire year without using the Internet. It changed me. At the time I was going to write a book about it, which was going to make me very smart, and very cool, and maybe even very popular. Honestly, that didn’t really work out for me.
There is still a book. It’s a beautiful book, full of life and haunting. But it isn’t at all the book I meant to write. My little first-person research project was hijacked by a spiritual awakening. In the third month of my Year Without Internet, I converted to Christianity. From atheism. From a few threads of just-gathered secular Buddhism. From absolutely despising Christianity as I saw it expressed in the social movements of our day.
There were a lot of things that were hard about that turn of events. It was hard to tell my intellectual friends the truth about my conversion: to have one friend talk to me about brainwashing, and another recommend that I read the latest Richard Dawkins. But it was harder yet to tell the truth about my hunger. It was harder yet to talk about the real reasons why I had gone off the Internet, rooted in a deep dissatisfaction and desire for personal transformation.
I wanted to crawl under a rock, and that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t know I was doing it, but I went into that proverbial dark night of the soul, and faced some big old stuff, like The Failure Problem, and The Terrifying Mother Who Died But Didn’t Quite Die Problem, and the I’m Not Sure I Want to Be Married Even Though Here I Am, MARRIED, WITH TWO KIDS Problem.
I left the Internet. And I was glad I left. My time under a rock has changed me, I think for the better. But I’ve come back now. I’ve come back because I missed you. I know that, for absolutely for sure, because I stayed away long enough to be sure. I stayed away long enough for my emotions to morph from constant performance anxiety through disdain and detachment back into an honest desire to connect. I stayed away long enough to be very sure that I can’t escape the fact that we are all here, in this pot, together. I don’t want to be alone anymore than anybody else.
Welcome to my Internet home. I haven’t always been here, but I’m here now. Welcome.