Going without internet

Thinking of going on an internet fast at home. Has anyone done it before? I want to turn off the internet for a few days (or a week?) and see what life is like without a constant connection (and the constant pull) to the interwebs.

Does the idea scare you? Excite you? Fill you with dread? A feeling of doom mixed with horror?

Yes, ME TOO.

But I really want to try this. I feel like there might be an adventure hidden in there somewhere.

Noam Chomsky on being truly educated

“My name is Noam Chomsky, I’m a retired professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where I’ve been for 65 years.

I think I can do no better about answering the question of what it means to be truly educated than to go back to some of the classic views on the subject. For example the views expressed by the founder of the modern higher education system, Wilhelm von Humboldt, leading humanist, a figure of the enlightenment who wrote extensively on education and human development and argued, I think, kind of very plausibly, that the core principle and requirement of a fulfilled human being is the ability to inquire and create constructively independently without external controls.

To move to a modern counterpart, a leading physicist who talked right here [at MIT], used to tell his classes it’s not important what we cover in the class, it’s important what you discover.

To be truly educated from this point of view means to be in a position to inquire and to create on the basis of the resources available to you which you’ve come to appreciate and comprehend. To know where to look, to know how to formulate serious questions, to question a standard doctrine if that’s appropriate, to find your own way, to shape the questions that are worth pursuing, and to develop the path to pursue them. That means knowing, understanding many things but also, much more important than what you have stored in your mind, to know where to look, how to look, how to question, how to challenge, how to proceed independently, to deal with the challenges that the world presents to you and that you develop in the course of your self education and inquiry and investigations, in cooperation and solidarity with others.

That’s what an educational system should cultivate from kindergarten to graduate school, and in the best cases sometimes does, and that leads to people who are, at least by my standards, well educated.”


“When you look at the night sky, you might see a very beautiful star, and you smile at it. But a scientist may tell you that the star is no longer there, that it was extinct ten million years ago. So our perception is not correct. When we see a very beautiful sunset, we are very happy, perceiving that the sun is there with us. In fact it was already behind the mountain eight minutes ago. It takes eight minutes for the sunshine to reach our planet. The hard fact is that we never see the sun in the present, we only see the sun of the past. Suppose while walking in the twilight, you see a snake, and you scream, but when you shine your flashlight on it, it turns out to be a rope. This is an error of perception. During our daily lives we have many misperceptions. If I don’t understand you, I may be angry at you all the the time. We are not capable of understanding each other, and that is the main source of human suffering.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh

Courageous radio

Scene on Radio is such a wonderful podcast. I’m working through it slowly. I love the way the show offers a long and multi-layered view on what’s happening in America now and helps us to understand (or at least attempt to understand) how America got to where she is today. It’s extremely well-produced and just such a pleasure to listen to.

Their latest season retells the story of the United States from its past to present. Season three explores how the world became male-dominated. Season two dives into the idea of “whiteness” and helps us to understand where the notion came from, what it means, and what it’s good for.

Experience it for yourself.

Till the day I die

Some days I feel deader than dead about photography—don’t know why I’m doing it, don’t know what it’s good for, don’t know if I’m any good at it. I think about giving it up and rack my brains about what else I would rather be doing. Maybe I will be an interior designer. Or go work in a bookstore. Or I might want to try starting my own company publishing books.

I daydream the various options.

But after I feel deader than dead I always circle back to the feeling that photography is something that I love without reason. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m not very good at it, maybe it’s not good for anything, maybe there is no good reason behind why I should keep doing it, but I can’t help it because something in me loves it. Maybe it’s that voiceless part of me, hidden away from the world, that loves it. I really have no idea. It’s all so mysterious. But sometimes that feeling of inexplicable love seizes me and I feel like I can go on again.

I suppose this cycle will continue till the day I die.

A better world

“Earlier this year, I was pretty much done with the internet. I debated about just walking away from it altogether. I felt like I was alone in wanting the internet to be fun. Then I decided to empower myself and just bend the internet to my perspective. I closed accounts and re-directed my focus to reading personal blogs and avoiding all the mainstream stuff. I found other people frustrated with the internet world who just wanted a less stressful and happier place to hang out online. I started building up a huge catalog of personal blogs to take up my online browsing time instead of the news, social media, reddit, and the like. And for the first time in a very long time, I found the internet to be stimulating, fun, and relaxing.”

Brandon, thank you for putting into words what I’ve been thinking about recently.

There should be no shame in choosing not to be political or vocal about what’s going on in the world right now. There is no right or wrong way to be a human being, and there are a million ways to make this world better than it was yesterday. We get to choose how we want to show up.

“Now these very people are having shame spill over into that more peaceful existence online and that really sucks. We can all do things to make the world a better place and people online or even society as a whole, shouldn’t make you feel like you aren’t doing enough. For some people just being nice is enough. For others donating time or money is enough.”

In response to Brandon’s post, “Shame and Blogging”.