Tech writer learns lessons from year-long Internet fast

(Wikipedia)Journalist Paul Miller spent a year away from the Internet. After going back online at the beginning of this month, he shared what he learned with his readers at The Verge, a tech site where he is the senior editor. Miller determined that the issues in his life were not solved by an Internet fast.

A Christian tech writer who just returned from a year of Internet abstinence is sharing the lessons he learned from the experience.

Paul Miller, who was 26 at the time his Internet fast began, is the senior editor for a technology site called The Verge.

He unplugged from the Internet at 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2012 and went back online on May 1.

He says of himself on his Twitter profile,"I love my savior Jesus Christ."

"The big thing I learned is that I can't blame the Internet for my problems," Miller told ABC News. "I thought leaving the Internet would fix some of my issues, but they are more innate."

After going back online, he wrote of his experiences on The Verge.

"My goal as a technology writer would be to discover what the Internet had done to me over the years. To understand the Internet by studying it at a distance," he said.

"I wouldn't just become a better human. I would help us all to become better humans. Once we understood the ways in which the Internet was corrupting us, we could fight back."

At first, Miller's plan was to quit his job as senior editor for The Verge and move home with his parents.

But when The Verge offered to pay him his full-time salary to write about his life offline, he stayed in New York.

Miller said he was burned out and wanted some time away from modern life and the Internet. He thought that the Internet was making him unproductive and "corrupting my soul."

"I was wrong", he wrote in the opening to his article on The Verge.

Furthermore, he told ABC News that "the experiment was a failure."

"I just stayed away from that part of myself," he said.

At first, Miller's journey began well. He lost weight and bought new clothes. People told him how good he looked.

"I did stop and smell the flowers," he said. "My life was full of serendipitous events: real life meetings, frisbee, bike rides, and Greek literature."

By August, even though he could still feel the change of pace in his life, he began to be bored and lonely.

Jennifer Fulwiler wrote in September in the National Catholic Register that she was intrigued by a post of Miller's in which he said that the novelty of disconnecting from the Internet was short-lived.

Fulwiler said she was a "big fan of Internet fasts" and that Miller's comments had given her a fresh perspective.

She noted that she discovered with her own fasts that she could waste as much time offline as she did on the Internet.

"I do believe that social media and other distractions borne of the age of hyperconnectivity are more addictive than the distractions available to previous generations," she said. "I think that there are special concerns that come with living in Facebook culture, especially for Christians."

"But I'm reminded by Miller's insights that it's also folly to focus too much on the symptoms (e.g., spending too much time online) and not look at the deeper issues that drive us to say, check Twitter 20 times a day."

Miller said after a while he began to stay at home days at a time.

"By late 2012 I had learned to make a new style of wrong choices off the Internet," he said. "I abandoned my positive offline habits and discovered new offline vices."

"A year in I don't ride my bike so much. My frisbee gathers dust. Most weeks I don't go out with people even once. My favorite place is the couch."

Miller said he is not sure what changed from the positive aspects he encountered when he first got off the Internet. Once he stopped focusing on the novelty of being offline, however, he said life became mundane.

"The worst sides of myself began to emerge," he said.

Miller said his plan was to leave the Internet and "find the real 'Paul' and get in touch with the 'real world'.

"But the real 'Paul' and the 'real world' are inextricably linked to the Internet," he said.

Business Insider listed five lessons Miller learned from his year off the Internet.

* The Internet wasn't holding him back from being creative and productive. He was solely responsible for his shortcomings.

* Paper books are great and you don't need the Internet to learn new things. But it still takes motivation to read a book, with or without the Internet.

* Receiving a dozen letters a week can be just as overwhelming as receiving hundreds of Emails a day.

* It's harder to find and connect with people without the Internet.

* A Facebook friend is better than nothing.

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