15

votes

Life without TV, Internet, Iphones... What was it like psychologically?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 28, 2011 at 4:08 AM

I have been thinking a lot lately about the fast paced world we are living in. Is it healthy? These days I can't handle waiting for a new web page to load up on my computer. I can't read a book without becoming impatient and bored/tired. My social confidence just sucks because I feel like people just don't do anything anymore. The only way I really reach people/stay in touch is with facebook. I'm just frustrated. Maybe it's just a romantic fallacy... Am I the only one with these thoughts? Haha probably.

-Bronson

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 06, 2013
at 06:53 PM

Not saying that's a bad thing though!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 06, 2013
at 06:52 PM

Less than a hour a day is a lot? You're obviously so outside the norm, it's funny. ;)

5bd7f43c7da83282bcb78e3aa33832e0

(266)

on June 06, 2013
at 06:22 PM

5-6 hours of TV a week sounds like a lot, but that's just me. I doubt very heavily that almost anyone with a job, friends, etc., watches 5-6 hours a day lololo. That's like a full-time job

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on October 30, 2011
at 06:05 PM

Hey, I'm only 64 and I lived my childhood without those things having an important role in my life. As a teenager, I was on the racetrack and later when I was in the Army; in both places, I went weeks at a time without them. NOW, though, I spend at least an hour on my PC every day and another couple of hours on my Kindle.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 30, 2011
at 05:46 PM

This is paleohacks. Not tea party rants. Please - save your raves for Rush and Sean. -1

Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:10 AM

DO IT!!! And write at least weekly in a diary, by hand. Draw pictures/maps of the places you've been. Keep a record of people you met (addresses, etc.) and be open to where the wind takes you. I had the most amazing experiences when I deviated from "plan", so be prepared for God's winks and a few lessons along the way.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:48 PM

I am going to hike the entire Appalachian Trail on of these days! I'm pumped.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:47 PM

I am actually considering hiking the Appalachian Trail. It is a five month hike... just me and a few buddies and the wilderness (pass through small towns here and there). A chance to live in the REAL world for five months has to be a life changing experience. Especially for someone like me who is part of this internet generation. Good stuff though Marie.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:36 PM

Totally... I just wish all of American society was doing this

Medium avatar

(19469)

on October 28, 2011
at 08:37 PM

Ahh, good old "back in the day"! :)

Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 28, 2011
at 05:34 PM

BTW, my trip cost $15K for 24 mos and included 3 trips back to the US, much less than my MBA and equally as valuable.

Ecc6aa6f4a961fbfce510bda4bd84916

(451)

on October 28, 2011
at 04:04 PM

Maybe not your question, but it sounds like joining a club or beer (gluten-free?) league would be great for you. I play board games once a week and kick ball in the summer. You can't text and play kick ball at the same time so you get actual human interaction, it's lovely!

Ef2f6c723983d7fe7a06bd57af6adeed

(1725)

on October 28, 2011
at 02:40 PM

Kinda like the movie, "Midnight in Paris". Check it out.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on October 28, 2011
at 08:31 AM

"life is what you make of it"-- Bullseye. My parents got rid of the t.v. and I read for entertainment until I was 14. I spent several years of my early 20's without cable/satellite, phone of any kind, and internet. My experience is that quality of life is more about my inner state and less about exterior factors.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 04:32 AM

That is great advice... I found myself eating a lot to cope with my stress and infrequent bouts of depression. I started controlling myself whenever I had "emotional" cravings and I feel that it has helped me in all aspects of life. Hopefully I can keep up with it.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 04:09 AM

"Maybe it's just a romantic fallacy..." Sorry I didn't check my question before posting it. The romantic fallacy is the fact that I kind of want to live in the old days before all of these distractions.

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24 Answers

6
64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on October 28, 2011
at 02:07 PM

Probably one of the best posts on this site in a while.

5
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on October 28, 2011
at 01:29 PM

I don't think it is a romantic fallacy. I'm far from a luddite, but I think in many ways technology does more to keep us apart than it does to bring us together.

One of the easiest first steps is to turn off the tv. Let's face it, there really isn't much of anything worth watching on tv these days and whether people like to think they can be influenced or not, all that advertising only leads to personal dissatisfaction and increased consumerism. If there are a couple of shows you really, really enjoy and don't think you can give up yet, use a DVR to record them or watch them on Hulu or Netflix. That way you are in control of when you watch them instead of having that decided by a network programming exec.

Another idea is to designate a certain block of time each day to be free of all electronic media. Turn off the tv, the computer, the phones, the radio, the ipod, all of it. Spend that time reading, talking face-to-face to your family/friends, enjoying nature, meditating, exploring a hobby...whatever you like.

And, most importantly, turn off all electronic media and phones when you are eating and/or spending time with family/friends. Never give precedence to electronic media--even phones--over the people right in front of you. (I understand there are people in certain situations that can't turn their phones off for emergency or work reasons, but even those people aren't required to answer every single text, email or phone call immediately.)

Technology isn't bad. I love my smart phone, my computer, my Kindle. (I couldn't actually care less about tv.) But these are tools we have to learn to manage or we risk letting them take over our lives. If we are constantly stimulated by electronic images and sounds we can suffer mental health consequences. Use them wisely and judiciously.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:36 PM

Totally... I just wish all of American society was doing this

5
E85b330dc9619cf686fd17c9104c78a6

on October 28, 2011
at 10:36 AM

If you feel it is overstimulation you should try to stop watching tv. You won't miss it as much as you think and it has a lot of benifits. First, you won't be overstimulated that easy anymore. Second, it makes you creative in finding things to do to fill your free time. And last, its so much better for your body because you start moving around more. On that note, how much do you exercise? More exercise could really help with concentration problems.

4
7e36094a0f7a2fbad24290225405220b

(2064)

on October 28, 2011
at 02:46 PM

Good grief! When I was a child there was no tv, no internet, no i-phones. My parents belonged to clubs such as amateur dramatics, we listened to the radio - really listened, Dan Dare was my favourite! - read books, played cards and board games, knitted, sewed, visited family, went for walks. I don't remember being bored.

Mind you, I'm not saying I would like to go back there. The world we live in now is a wonderful place, but we still need to relate to the real environment around us.

4
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 28, 2011
at 02:41 PM

It's called the tyranny of the urgent. Here is an article that describes it and goes back to its earliest roots - the telephone, which was the first time that people were able to invade your home behind its walls - http://www.ocregister.com/articles/urgent-27869-many-less.html

3
9200fbb03fc351700beab58100b564ca

(30)

on June 05, 2013
at 06:52 AM

I do not have TV (nothing), I have no internet at home (I work with internet all day, ugh!) I do not have a smartphone, I do not have a microwave or dish washer, or ice machine (I use trays oh jeeze...) People at my work think this is nuts. I live downtown, there is a grocery a few blocks away and the only time I really use my car is when I drive to work or see my fiance (sometimes he uses it when he has long drives for work saves on gas...) I read often, work out... have become a great cook, write, go for walks, love hiking... love the out doors... I have always been active but without these things in my life at home, I can really enjoy what I like to enjoy and I do not sit around thinking about what it would be like to enjoy life... I watch films, a lot (go to the movies as well as watch them on my computer, but I have no internet). I also listen to a lot of music... it's freeing, all day I sit at a computer... when I come home, I love relaxing... and not being "Plugged in..."

3
Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 28, 2011
at 05:30 PM

I spent 2 years traveling around the world alone, just me and a backpack. It was great! I highly recommend everyone get a chance to be "alone in the world".

Not only did I experience great external adventures {Swimming with iguanas on the Galapagos, attending Mahout (elephant training) school in Thailand, and riding the Andes on a Peruvian Paso stallion}, my internal adventures were just as great. Spending 20 hours on a bus (sans iPod) is a great chance to reflect on one's life and it takes time to put together the pieces of our lives.

I came back from this tech free adventure a changed individual, and much of that change would have been impossible with the constant chatter of technology in the background. Given it took me 4 months to stop checking my stocks every time I hopped into an internet cafe ( letting the Family know I was still alive), it amazed me how much addictive control some parts of my electronic life had on my daily behavior.

If you get a chance, take a break from it all. The world isn't going anywhere and will be ready to pick up where you left off, if that's still what you want.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 28, 2011
at 05:34 PM

BTW, my trip cost $15K for 24 mos and included 3 trips back to the US, much less than my MBA and equally as valuable.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:47 PM

I am actually considering hiking the Appalachian Trail. It is a five month hike... just me and a few buddies and the wilderness (pass through small towns here and there). A chance to live in the REAL world for five months has to be a life changing experience. Especially for someone like me who is part of this internet generation. Good stuff though Marie.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on October 29, 2011
at 12:10 AM

DO IT!!! And write at least weekly in a diary, by hand. Draw pictures/maps of the places you've been. Keep a record of people you met (addresses, etc.) and be open to where the wind takes you. I had the most amazing experiences when I deviated from "plan", so be prepared for God's winks and a few lessons along the way.

3
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on October 28, 2011
at 01:02 PM

we've been without tv for 7 years, brought it back for 2 (cable came free with one of our apartments, so we got a tv for kicks) and got rid of it again a little over a year ago. It made a HUGE difference in our lives -- opened up more social time, got us out of the house more, and honestly, I think that, at least for me, it restored my generally hopeful, positive demeanor, which had been slipping into a very cynical, harsh, manner over the 2 years we watched the tube. I still have a cell phone and internet, but just ditching the TV and radio (I still listen to my own music playlists) made a huge, huge difference for both myself and my companion.

I've moved on to the next level, though my companion isn't ready yet-- I've started using oil lamps and candles after dark, and shutting down all my electronics (computers, etc.) 90 minutes before I go to sleep. I've found that I sleep better, even though we're in the midst of a huge city, and that I wake more refreshed, and with a generally more positive outlook. (At the same time, I've also noticed that I'm becoming less tolerant of the constant 'raging' of the city -- I don't think I'm cut out for city life, in general.)

3
5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on October 28, 2011
at 04:28 AM

Sounds like overstimulation to me. I've been in this exact situation. Overstimulation can lead to downregulation of dopamine receptors which means you become desensitized to pleasure.

The solution is to cut out anything in your life that is addictive, causes cravings, or that you find yourself doing excessively out of habit. Sugar and alcohol were big ones for me. Cutting these out and generally being more mindful of my actions/habits completely solved my ADD symptoms. Doing the same should make reading and other less stimulating activities a lot more enjoyable for you.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 04:32 AM

That is great advice... I found myself eating a lot to cope with my stress and infrequent bouts of depression. I started controlling myself whenever I had "emotional" cravings and I feel that it has helped me in all aspects of life. Hopefully I can keep up with it.

2
Medium avatar

(19469)

on October 28, 2011
at 06:23 PM

Whenever I've gone without TV, Internet, phones, etc (Hiking the Appalachian trail for several days, spending a week in a cabin without "luxuries", etc.) it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.

I'll typically feel anxiety leading up to the trip and will post a ton of stuff on my blog, facebook page, etc. but when I get out there, it all just fades away and I realize how peaceful and rewarding life can be when one rises and sets with the sun, eats close to the earth, and finds joy sitting by a fire gazing at a sky thick with stars.

We have a tendency to overestimate the negative impact of things like losing our connection to the phone/internet/etc., but we are supremely adaptable and, quite possibly, "wired" to live a simpler life.

I've posted in the past about the naturalistic fallacy and in no way romanticize a life without modern conveniences. I am fortunate enough to choose whether or not I go without technology, but in the context of my privileged, sheltered, and safe life, a few days or weeks without technology is extremely refreshing.

66ea662e4810898868fb131399d15726

(219)

on October 28, 2011
at 10:48 PM

I am going to hike the entire Appalachian Trail on of these days! I'm pumped.

2
306905a32e76b5c0764a663ea7e88426

(1072)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:33 AM

Just in case anyone is keen to reduce the time and soul vacuum that certain social networks can easily turn into, Account Killer is a handy way to remove yourself from some of the more "challenging to escape" services.

2
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 28, 2011
at 11:23 AM

Quit chronic Facebook. I log in to accept friend requests and maybe send a message when I can't simply call/text or I don't have an email (a rare occurrence!) It's ok for keeping in touch, but shouldn't be the hub of your social interactions.

TV for TV's sake sucks. I watch a few quality shows, and that's it. No need for cable TV for that. Hulu is cheaper by far. Or go outlaw if you can't get what you want on Hulu. I have maybe 5-6 shows I watch religiously each week, that's just 5-6 hours of "TV" time per week (versus most people watching that much, daily.)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 06, 2013
at 06:52 PM

Less than a hour a day is a lot? You're obviously so outside the norm, it's funny. ;)

5bd7f43c7da83282bcb78e3aa33832e0

(266)

on June 06, 2013
at 06:22 PM

5-6 hours of TV a week sounds like a lot, but that's just me. I doubt very heavily that almost anyone with a job, friends, etc., watches 5-6 hours a day lololo. That's like a full-time job

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on June 06, 2013
at 06:53 PM

Not saying that's a bad thing though!

2
34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on October 28, 2011
at 08:27 AM

I think it really depends on the individual and the combination of genetic predisposition and life experiences/environment that determines whether or not its healthy for you or anyone else. The amount of stimuli and distractions available today is certainly a stressor but whether or not it plays a major role in your overall health depends on you and the amount of stress from other factors in your life.

I think the root of the issue has more to do with some kind of personal dissatisfaction and less to do with modern circumstances or technology. In the past people (men especially) would have specific roles, a set of guidelines to follow, today we tend to be lost. Without rites of passage and well defined expectations of men, it's hard to know what to do or where we stand in relation to our peers. I think that finding your purpose would do wonders for your social confidence. The other aspects may follow or you may find that you simply feel differently about them.

2
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on October 28, 2011
at 04:43 AM

IMO your life is what you make of it in this regard. Cut some distractions out of your daily life.

I spend a ton of my free time on the internet and on facebook, but I rarely watch tv shows and movies, I don't have a fancy phone and don't text or call much. I have rather a lot of RL friends I do lots of RL things with, as well as working often very social jobs. And I have a fiance. I'd actually like a lot more free time without talking to anyone, but I'm an introvert...

I born in '85 but grew up with very limited access to technology due to my parent's rules. I moved out at 18 and I only have had my own computer for 2 years, never owned my own tv. While I have to credit my lack of early exposure for some of this, as well as with my obsession with reading (I spend most of my time on the computer these days reading), I don't necessarily think that the forms of entertainment/time-wasting/mindless relaxation I've indulged in instead of screens have been any better for me or more productive than facebook, etc.

34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on October 28, 2011
at 08:31 AM

"life is what you make of it"-- Bullseye. My parents got rid of the t.v. and I read for entertainment until I was 14. I spent several years of my early 20's without cable/satellite, phone of any kind, and internet. My experience is that quality of life is more about my inner state and less about exterior factors.

1
589dbc46d802621f759a2a05ec1aa72c

on June 06, 2013
at 04:23 AM

I've lived with minimal media before (a few books, a rarely-used radio, no TV, no phone, no magazine subscriptions, the occasional newspaper or theater movie), and it had its good side and bad side. The good side included a less-static-ridden mind, a feeling of freedom to draw conclusions and guess at things instead of feeling pressured to know the latest general consensus on all matters, and a much longer attention span. The bad side included feeling at people's mercy, with no escape, no outside perspective, and times with very little mental stimulation. But there are low-tech ways to overcome those issues. I think everyone should try a low-tech, low-media life for a while, just to learn how to use those functions that can atrophy in these times.

1
9ccba53aa2fa1ad747c1baad2386fa1f

on June 05, 2013
at 01:17 PM

Felt the exact same way a few years ago. For one month I ceased the use of all my social networking sites and also ditched my phone. Best decision of my life. All around I felt less anxious and more connected with others because eliminating these social networking sites forced me to really talk to people face to face and physically reach out to them. I definitely think all this modern technology can be abused to the point where it becomes toxic to our psychological health.

I'm a bit too lazy to search for them right now, but there are plenty of articles out there stating how our overuse of technology, namely, cellphones and social networking sites, have shaped people into bundles of anxious, impatient individuals. I know nytimes definitely brought light to this issue numerous times.

1
D8644ecc819aa7fb98ed93eece4befa2

(281)

on June 05, 2013
at 08:47 AM

This is a great question. To me this is a part of a primal just as big as food. I try to determine how media use "feeds" me, by eliminating it for as much as 10 days at a time.

You should realise that your media use is probably due to some very good reasons. For me, TV watching is for self-regulating in times of stress (which is counter-productive, as the images I watch are on themselve often disturbing). And social media use I do when I really need a friend (when I realised this, I started visiting my friends whenever I got on FB).

Although you can experiment with the above, I'd really recommend a 2-day media fast. You'll probably go crazy. If it is too much, stop, and use some media, and gradually eliminate some if not all where possible.

I really recommend the works by the following authors:

Sherry Turkle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7Xr3AsBEK4 Her book "Together alone" is an amazing look at what media use does with our brains and our lives as tribal beings.

Jim Stolze http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArHOzziiXiI Jim eliminated the internet for a month. I totally agree with his clarity of mind, which I experience d to on elimination. It's amazing!

Tim Ferriss http://changethis.com/manifesto/34.04.LowInfo/pdf/34.04.LowInfo.pdf Some neat tricks on structuring the things you cannot eliminate due to work etc.

1
Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on June 05, 2013
at 08:30 AM

Life without electronics? Much better, in terms of overall well-being and health. There's this calm in nature that is truly ethereal.

Or it just might be the fact that I've had it with assholes looking on their phones every goddamn minute of their life, even at the dinner table, all the while with people waiting to talk to them. To me, the invention of portable phone devices is probably the worst thing to happen to natural sociability. It's the modern escape gate for the socially inept (or rude).

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 28, 2011
at 05:41 PM

I lived without much tech in the 90s and things were sooooooo much better in some ways back then.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on October 28, 2011
at 08:37 PM

Ahh, good old "back in the day"! :)

1
Medium avatar

on October 28, 2011
at 02:59 PM

I have yet to see a TV host or program close with, "Thanks for joining us, but you've probably had enough for now. Please turn off the set and enjoy some quiet time." The medium demands constant allegiance. Color me heretical but: viewers have the option not to comply. My television comes with a functioning on/off button. I watched Game 6 Thursday night, then turned off the TV, went to bed and soon fell asleep. I suppose sleep might have been difficult had I spent more time in front of the TV or lay there wondering if there might be something crucial to check over at Facebook.

Blaming TV and computers for encroaching on one's psychic space is like blaming the spirits section at Safeway for "inciting alcohol craving."

"What was it like psychologically?" Thoreau offered memorable reflections, entitled Walden. Cultivate quiet, calm, inner space with at least as much diligence as today's external world seeks to diminish it.

1
25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on October 28, 2011
at 04:27 AM

On the downside, it did allow for great frauds like the Kennedy assassinations + MLK, Jr. being perpetrated by "lone gunmen" and for the duping of the masses into believing things like "FDR got us out of the Great Depression." On the plus side, you did actually have to "talk to people" more frequently. Or is that another downside? Hmmm.

On a semi-serious note, for those of you who have not lived through this, it is difficult to convey what it was like when The Three Networks and The Papers of Record (Pravda West [AKA NY Times] and WA Post) were virtually the sole sources of info for The Sheeple at Large. Nevermind that all of those were in the pocket of the CIA's Operation Mockingbird.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 30, 2011
at 05:46 PM

This is paleohacks. Not tea party rants. Please - save your raves for Rush and Sean. -1

0
5878e2e96bb7eeaa784f33fd54951c0f

on June 06, 2013
at 12:01 PM

I feel someone at some point of time have thought about it. It could be difficult for you to live without them. However we can start developing or doing activities that would not require you to be connected to virtual world.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 30, 2011
at 05:31 PM

This is paleohacks. Not tea party rants. Please - do your venting with Rush and Sean. -1

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 28, 2011
at 07:40 PM

Camping FTW!

I grew up in the late 70's/early 80's in a small town with 4 TV channels.

I rode my bike, played with my friends, got into lots of trouble, and had a great time.

I feel sorry for today's kids and adults.

My favorite thing to do is to get out into the woods, away from technology/society and just decompress.

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