Unplugging from the Internet is Stupid

Everywhere you turn these days, people bemoan technology.

All we do now is look at our phones.

Nobody talks anymore, they just text.

It’s killing our attention spans.

It’s making us lazy.

The internet is making us dumb.

They suggest we turn off our devices. Digital detox. Unplug. Reconnect with our natural selves. Family. Friends. Who we really are inside.

Whatever. This is the dumbest advice of all time, coming from the most privileged people of all time.

You ever take a vacation somewhere foreign, somewhere exotic, where internet access is kinda limited?

The people, those poor people, they look so happy. They don’t have access to technology, and look at them -- they’ve got smiles on their faces.

Why can’t we be like that? Happy. Content.

It’s the internet. It’s technology. It’s making us miserable.

No it isn’t. Technology isn’t making us miserable. You’re making us miserable.

Give those people computers and phones and they’ll still be happy as shit. It’s not them, it’s you.

I feel like Louis C.K. here, but seriously, technology is amazing. Technology is ridiculous. Why the hell would you want to unplug from this, when in fact, it gives you almost everything?

You know why people don’t talk anymore? Cause talking sucks. Yeah, it’s fun to talk to smart, intelligent people.

But guess what? The average person doesn’t have much to say. Have you looked around lately? People are fucking dumb. I mean, Jesus, have you ever just sat around listening to other people talk? It’s a nightmare.

So there’s a reason we turn to the internet, or our phones or whatever for our conversations -- the real world just doesn’t cut it. We’re looking for something better.

Is it really better? That’s debatable, but if you’re in the middle of nowhere and you’re interested in some fringe thing -- something your friends and family might laugh at -- the internet isn’t a bad world to be living in instead.

That’s the thing people don’t get about the web, the reason why disconnecting or unplugging just doesn’t make much sense. Some people really don’t have anything else. They’re alone. Maybe people are physically around them, but they’re still alone.

We also bemoan what we’ve lost -- record stores, book stores, encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, retail stores. As if unplugging from the web is going to make us appreciate those things more.

Look, that’s just stupid. Facts are, if you’re into those things, you’re going to be into them whether you’ve got a computer in your pocket making them irrelevant or not.

In fact, technology actually makes us regard those things with a lot more reverence now. We once took them for granted. Now we don’t. We have that, and we have this. EBay has done more for record collections than most record stores ever will. So these things coexist.

Is the fact that people are walking around looking at their phones when they should be watching out for cars sort of troubling? Sure. They’re like zombies.

But at least they’re information zombies. Or social zombies. They’re hungry for more. More knowledge. More connection. Just, more.

Anything more than the real world, which is often so plain and, well, kinda cold.

Do you overshare on social media? Do you say too much? Probably. But that’s just because the real world wants to keep you quiet. Who can blame you.

So, you’ve got a megaphone in your hand, you should be shouting as loud as you can. People elsewhere would do anything for that ability.

And information is power. We’re addicted to the internet because it gives us everlasting information -- and that makes us feel powerful. This, of course, is because in the real world, many of us are so powerless.

So fuck a digital detox or whatever you call it. Give me more. Plug the internet right into my brain if possible. I wanna soak it all up. And you should too.

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.