I've gone back and forth on this belief that we need to distance ourselves from technology; social media, video games, etc. I want to discuss this topic after reading the blog of a friend whom actually might as well have introduced me to the concept. There really wasn't a name for this, but they seem to have developed it into the term "Online Austerity," which is the idea that we spend too much time online.
I'm not sure if they created this term but I will use it. I agree with the sentiment to a certain degree. We often find ourselves wasting a considerable amount of time particularly on social media. I'll catch myself opening and closing webpages and re-opening and closing Twitter in hopes that a new post will appear to occupy another 5 seconds of time. It's not a good use of time and I don't think many people would argue with that.
I make the assumption that this is a common problem because most of the people I know seem to follow in similar behavioral patterns.
"The Internet can be so useful if used wisely, with focus, and in moderation."
"Moderation" is the key to this problem. It doesn't just apply to the addiction to the Internet either, this goes for just about everything: alcohol, sex, exercise, etc. Anything can become an addiction if you aren't careful. To view addiction to the Internet as a special or unique problem is utter nonsense.
"Download full copies of Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Project Gutenberg, and your favourite Stack Exchange sites directly to your drives for offline use."
Smart idea, and I've done this quite a bit myself as I have a passion for archiving documents and other information. Mostly in rejection to the idea that "Everything you post online stays there forever" which couldn't be further from the truth.
However, I think that downloading everything for the sake of downloading is not the correct way to go about it. All information is useful to someone but perhaps not useful to you. You should create your own personal library filled with information that you care about. Downloading all of Wikipedia will only lead back down the road the same road of wasting time reading countless articles. Unless you are an archivist by profession, digital hoarding is simply another issue that you want to avoid.
"Get a hobby that doesn't require the use of the Internet"
There are probably many nuances to this sentiment and exceptions which could be made but overall I find this solution to be rather silly. There is an almost Puritan quality to this concept of complete separation from the Internet which is:
- Unrealistic, as nearly everything we do nowadays is connected to the Wired and unless you prepare to live like this man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZFp8ldcTx4 I highly doubt it would be possible. We live in the Wired now whether we like it or not. Either we work in its confines or shy ourselves away from the rest of the world as hermits.
- Silly, as the Internet is an extremely powerful resource which has only made hobbies easier to get into/understand. Yes, you can exercise, ride a bike, repair things, read, write, etc. without the Internet--but it certainly makes it a hell of a lot easier with new information being uploaded almost daily.
Do corporations create content and develop systems that are designed to suck as much of your time as possible? Of course, and once you recognize that fact is when you can learn how to moderate your usage.
So yes, go exercise; learn about a new regimen or meal plan from some exercise blog.
Yes, learn how to repair a Commodore 64; download the old manuals from Archive.org or watch a YouTube video.
Yes, download books on philosophy; read along with professors who post their lectures on YouTube.
Yes, write stories and novels; upload them to your blog or post them on forums to receive feedback.
Yes, play video games online with friends, spend 80 hours playing an RPG. These are simply different forms of story-telling with interactivity. What's the difference then with books? None.
Yes, you are probably wasting your time on social media--use it to promote your work, content, or talk to your friends--use it for its proper intention.
Understanding that you are wasting your time online is the most important part. Removing yourself from the Wired is not. Computers are a tool, the Internet is a tool; use them as such.