On How to Get Offline

Written by Mike Parish, Illustrated by Dan Tarnowski
On How to Get Offline

Here’s an article and illustration from the archives that never made it to press. It was created a few months ago when I thought it might be possible to make money writing for websites online until I read up about it and discovered the reality, (you pretty much can’t).

Every time I am online I ask myself: do I really have nothing better to be doing? Sites like Facebook and YouTube can be dangerous; before you know it, several hours disappear. There’s nothing wrong with working on your digital self and keeping in touch with friends. But what’s even more important is keeping one’s physical body and mind active and healthy.

1. As stated above, every time you find yourself online, ask: do I really have nothing better to be doing? True, certain online practices and sites have a use in your life: checking emails for work while at home, online banking, recipe searching, map consulting, etc, are all valid uses of time online. But other sites are simply time traps. The useful ones will almost always benefit you somehow in your day to day life. The not so useful ones won’t. If you find yourself unsure as to whether or not what you are looking at online is helpful to you, click the “back” button on your browser and determine exactly how you came to be looking at what you are looking at. The longer it takes you to realize or remember how you got to your current train of online thought, the more time you have wasted online.

2. If the answer to the above question is “No,” you may actually be doing something useful online. Congratulations. Use the “back” button method detailed in #1 just to make sure.

3. If the answer to the above question is “Yes,” determine what that something is. You probably already have it in mind. If it is a beautiful day outside, go for a walk or bike ride. Is there a sink full of dishes that you have been putting off washing? Is dinner time approaching, is it time to start cooking? Do you have work to do? Have you always wanted to write a book? Or read one? The thing about being online is that it is easier to sit and stay on the computer than it is to actually do something. We can be stimulated by all of this information coming directly to us, and all we have to do is think about what we want to see. This makes it harder to start doing something. So keep in mind that it’s always easier to do nothing than it is to do something. Is doing nothing really how you want to spend your time?

4. Start looking at your computer as a work station, as a tool for assisting you in the work that you want to get done. Remember: it takes a willful attitude and some work to get something done. And doing something worthwhile is never easy.

5. If online gaming is taking over your life or the life of a loved one, go cold turkey. Pull the plug on the operation. Since many online games require a monthly access fee, stop paying it. Do whatever it takes to stop playing and if you can’t stop playing, stop playing as much. While getting good at online games may be satisfying on some level, there are plenty of activities and hobbies that engage people mentally and physically and which have real world applications and even bring more amounts of satisfaction. Try sports or music or the arts.

6. If after all of the above, you’re still having trouble getting offline, set a stove timer or alarm clock in another room so that you have to get up when it goes off. It might just wake you out of that computer world you’ve been sleeping in.

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