Updated: Dec 28, 2019
In John Green’s video Taking a Year Off, he opens by stating “My internet isn’t working.” This statement is not referring to his Wi-Fi connection but to the greater problem of how he is using his internet and why he has decided to remove himself from the social internet for the entirety of 2019.
The name John Green may ring some bells as you may know him as the writer of many young adult fiction works including The Fault in Our Stars, the co-creator of CrashCourse and VlogBrothers on YouTube, co-host of the podcast Dear Hank & John (or as he prefers to think of it, Dear John & Hank), or as one of the co-founders of VidCon alongside his brother, Hank Green. In this video, Green discusses his dissatisfaction with the way he uses the internet and in turn how the internet uses him. His hiatus is not meant to demonize the social internet or its users. Social media is not evil, and it is often used by many people in intentional and fulfilling ways. Algorithms on social media sites are not designed to provide users with the most accurate or fulfilling content but with the content that will hold attention and keep users on their platform to ingest advertising.
Recently, companies like Apple have become aware of the addictive qualities of their products and developed software such as ScreenTime to help users control the amount of time they spend on their phones. This development may be considered a solution by some, but it is still a Band-Aid on an otherwise gaping wound. Screen time controls are far too easy to bypass and manipulate. Consider how many times you have extended your timer another 15 minutes or disabled it entirely for the remainder of that evening. Being aware of the problem is not a solution, but it is a start.
When I first learned of Green’s year-long hiatus, I was immediately intrigued. I have often found myself mindlessly scrolling, hoping to find some sort of stimulation to entertain me for the next minute. I’ve noticed my attention span decreasing, the need for instant gratification increasing, and a developing tendency to take things at face value. I don’t have the same desire as Green to take a year-long break from the social internet, but in an effort to become more aware of how I use it, I will be taking a hiatus for the month of June.
During my time away I have 5 main goals:
1) Unlearn the compulsory habit of checking my phone
2) Use my internet more intentionally
3) Use free time more productively
4) Learn how to be bored again
5) Better navigate digital information
I’m not expecting this to be a magical experience or some sort of rebirth. I hope the time I spend away from the internet this month will be exactly what it is intended to be: a break.
Check out John Green’s video.
John Green’s one month update.