I've known for some time that I have horrible addictive tendencies. Sadly it's only recently become apparent how dependant on an always on, always connected, 100Mbit/s fibre optic connection I actually am.
Being abruptly disconnected from the digital world this past bank holiday weekend had some profound effects on me. I'd never for one moment considered just how essential being online was to my gaming sensibilities, social life and to a lesser extent mental wellbeing.
In this modern world with its 24/7 always connected society I just felt like things were happening without me. Is it indicative of the connected society we have sleep walked into that I just felt somewhat 'out of the loop'?
I don't really know what loop I was fearful of falling through though. Facebook, once a place where girls I fancied in school posted holiday pictures has now become a continual stream of baby and weddings pictures, then the usual sob stories as another marriage falls apart due to private lives being play-out online in the public-eye. Facebook, a service I'm not totally enamoured with somehow happens to be one site I have the longest tenure with, and, as a result is normally the site I go to when I have a free moment. Those moments once reserved for day dreaming are now filled with pictures of adorable puppies, memes and declining invites to whatever social game is in vogue.
I can remember a time before the World Wide Web became my teacher, mother, and secret lover. Sadly that time was when I was in my early teens. A time when it is socially acceptable to be in the park all day drinking cider and a time when friends were only a short bike ride away. Today I fear even venturing near the local park, just in case I smile at a child and get branded a paedophile. While I often feel that I need to make an appointment with friends just so my presence doesn't clash with baby feeding routines, nappy changing or bath time.
So many people I'd call friends are people I purely have a digital relationship with. My relationship with the Citizen Game team is predominantly digital. Whether that be over Skype, through emails or on a digital battlefield. Without an internet connection a section of my social circle was missing.
Striving to be technologically advanced has been my biggest downfall during my disconnection. Spotify, Netflix and the iPlayer are all great services 'if' you are connected. Being restricted to watch scheduled television seemed limited and restrictive. While only having my own music collection to listen to felt like stepping back in time.
My biggest discovery with my disconnected time is how incredibly lazy the internet has made me. Knowledge is power but why bother remember stuff when you have a world of information at your fingertips' Things I'd once have been able to spew out verbatim have now turned into internet searched. My prioritising of information acquisition over knowledge retention is worrying and in effect resulting in my own 'dumbing down'.
But life without a connection reminded me that days are long and you can achieve so much without the distractions of the internet. Activities I'd been putting off for months because I 'just don't have the time' now had no digital distractions. For the first time in what seemed like years I was able to read Edge cover to cover in one sitting, and the banal sorting, storing or shredding of miscellaneous letters and payslips never felt so liberating.
It would have been a much sterner examination of my need to be connected if my weekend hadn't been filled with pre-arranged social events, looking at show homes and watching the FA Cup final.
Maybe a self imposed disconnect is something I should visit another time, but then again maybe my need to feel 'connected' is something I should seek medical attention for.
Originally posted on citizengame.co.uk on may 10th.