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Why You Should Quit the Internet

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Life is a series of decisions, one after another. When put together, they make you who you are.

Each decision is a bet. Some are made consciously; others not. Each bet you win shows you what you’re capable of, and what your next bet should be. As you win more bets, you get more ambitious. This is a good thing.

Here is an ambitious bet I just made that I think will interest you: in May, for 30 days, I will be quitting the internet.

Instead, during this time, I will be walking an 800 kilometer, thousand-year-old pilgrimage route in Spain– one that many people have walked or dreamed to, from Paulo Coelho to American President John Adams.

It’s something we’ve been planning for almost six months. It’s pretty cool to be on the cusp of a big trip like this.

But this post isn’t about my personal quest. It’s about yours.

Do you have something to quit the internet for?

Why you should quit

Our brains are not wired to be made happy by the internet. Our emotions, like fear and joy, are based in a primal understanding of the world. This is something we can’t escape.

Saying the web is important to your life is like saying that television is important. It might be social, sure, but it’s still media. It can help connect but it also divides in a very fundamental way.

Touching a screen isn’t the same as touching a person.

The best stuff happens outside the web. Outside is new and frightening, not comfortable. Encountering pain helps transform your vision of yourself and forces you to grow.

And there is very little that is new and frightening on the web. The biggest realizations happen when you are in free-fall, not when you have a safety net.

Happiness is not related to Twitter feeds, blog posts, or even books– although books do get closer. What happiness is connected with is unique human experience, often untranslatable into any other medium. Much like Jacques Derrida’s ash or Zen, the quiet and the sacred have no way of speaking for themselves other than personal experience.

So, personal experience is what we must seek out. It’s personal and rare, so unlike what’s easily accessible (the web), it’s valuable.

Why you need a quest

But your life needs one. Your existence needs a purpose. For now, I have one. It helps me think about the future and will give me time to think and consider what’s important.

You should have a quest for the same reason. You should feel like you’re a part of something bigger, and that you’re going somewhere. You should feel like you have challenges to overcome, things that might even feel insurmountable.

It may interest you to do something like what I’m doing– or you may find it boring. You may have some inkling of what your quest should be, or you might have no idea. It might be crazy and amazing to others, or it might be entirely mundane to them. No matter, because it’s your quest, not theirs.

It doesn’t need to impress anyone but you.

Consider

Sarah Marquis has walked over 30,000 kilometers in the past 20 years. As we speak she is walking from Siberia to Australia.

Paul Nicklen goes to the coldest, most miserable parts of the world to photograph and document the animals that live there.

Brett Rogers makes documentaries about rivers by traveling down them in non-motorized craft.

Shea Hembley leaves drawings in nature for people to find, like secret messages.

How to find inspiration

The examples above are just from TED conferences I’ve attended this year, they weren’t hard to find or anything.

But isn’t it interesting how the examples I mentioned all came from people going to tough natural environments? If you’ve been here a while, you probably already know this about me. I love nature, earthworks and endurance. It’s all right up my alley.

You probably have stuff that’s similar. Do you remember what it is? Often, ideas like these are so buried that you have no idea what you actually care about anymore. Or, you do remember, but don’t realize how long it’s been since you thought about it.

So how do you find something you care about so much you’re willing to take a break from your regular life? In the end, that’s what this is about– finding something that’s so great, you want to take a break from your regular life to do it. Work, the web, your neighbourhood, whatever it is, if you feel like you’d love it more (or as much), you’re on the right track.

You can do this by performing certain exercises– removing boundaries like money, dependents, or the amount of possessions you have. Some people say you should write ideas down until you cry.

But this isn’t about finding your one great idea. It’s only about taking one single step forward, which is much easier.

Why we climb mountains

Quests in movies always go the same way. The hero is seeking enlightenment, or vengeance, or peace. He has to find someone to teach him. He seeks out this person on the top of a mountain or desert– that is to say, a hard place to find. This is a metaphor for how we find clarity and learn new things. It’s hard.

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. The stories in our lives inspire us because they are foundational to who we are. And we learn from them what steps we should take in own quests, and where we should go next from where we are.

Joseph Campbell listed a these steps in the Hero’s Journey. Have you ever seen them?

  1. The Ordinary World
  2. Call to Adventure
  3. Refusal of Call/Reluctant Hero
  4. Meeting Wise Mentor
  5. The First Threshold
  6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  7. Supreme Ordeal
  8. Revisiting the Mentor
  9. Return with New Knowledge
  10. Seizing the Sword (or Prize)
  11. Resurrection
  12. Return with Elixir

Where are you in here? Do you recognize yourself? Most people get stuck around number 3. Some are later, but not many. Are you one of them? If so, why are you refusing?

Are you stuck at number 7? This is your darkest hour, when you feel that you should give up and quit. It’s another major departure point from the quest, but in order to complete it, you have to go forward. It’s also what Seth Godin calls The Dip, but it’s universal. Have you been tested? Did you succeed?

Some people are at number 1 and have never considered anything outside the corridor they have lived in. Do you know any of them? Well, here’s a secret– most people who seem this way are in fact not here at all. Almost everyone is actually on a quest; they’ve just refused it, or have forgotten it. A temporary sidetrack.

To understand is to perceive patterns

I just got a deck of Pattern Seeker trading cards in the mail from the amazing Imaginary Foundation. On the cover is this message:

Photo on 2011 04 05 at 09 33  2

Oops, it’s backwards. Ha, the message actually works better that way.

Look, your life has patterns, or corridors, that you need to know in order to become better. You feel pain when you leave the corridor because it is the unknown. In fact, pain might even be a signal that you are on the right track. But in order to see, you need to know what your patterns are– both good and bad.

If you have nothing better to do than spend time on Facebook or hang out at the old bar, your life may need some serious adjustment. If you don’t care about what you’re doing from day to day, or if every day seems like the last, then your whole life will be like this. You have refused the quest. You are done.

With growth and flexibility comes life; with rigidity comes death. This is a truth that expands to all living things. Your body knows this, so you should too.

The easy is not worth doing; only the hard is. It is your exposure to the new should become the norm, and your return to the old should be comfortable, but brief.

Shipping

Seth Godin recently told me by email that the most important time in any project is the point at which you decide, unequivocally, that it will ship. Before that, it’s just an idea you toy around with.

Think of a relationship. Things are beautiful and perfect when they are new or aren’t real yet– but that’s precisely because they don’t exist. Once they become real, they get messy. That’s what happens when something goes from the imagination to actual existence.

Ideas, in fact, aren’t worth much. Everyone has them, even geniuses, but only those who deliver have an impact, and only those who know themselves are able to deliver.

Why you should act stupid

Act as if you are stupid. Read in order to learn something, then act as if you’re stupid again and read more to make see if you’re right. Then go out into the world. Assume you will fail, but accept it, because it will make you less stupid.

Think this paragraph is funny? Well, it is, but it’s also true. What we know is vastly dwarfed by what we do not, but we act as if the patterns we recognize are all that life is or can be. This is wrong– this is actual stupidity.

If you want to be smart, you have to begin by being stupid. The hard part is staying that way.

All on the path are brothers

A few months ago, a friend pointed me to this essay from Julian Assange’s old website. I remember thinking a lot about it. He had a quest, and in a way, it doesn’t matter what it was. It only mattered that, when he really looked at himself, he was doing what he thought was best for the world.

Good for the world, but not the way that people think Reaganomics is good for the world. The way that children think it.

Because, if you have a quest, then all of the suffering makes much more sense.

If you have a goal, then a lot of the actions you need to take become much clearer.

Even if your goal isn’t perfect, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s better– even 5% better.

You feel like you are a part of something. You feel like you will come back and be transfigured, and that people will see you differently.

But in fact, you will be more yourself than you ever were.

Final note

This is my 1000th post on this blog. I’m pretty proud of it.

I remember when I started in 2003, I didn’t think I was a writer at all. I did podcasts because I considered myself a verbal person. Well, I’ve changed.

When I began, I wrote bullshit, self-interested posts that were based on people thinking that my life and myself were interesting. On my show, I played a bunch of hip-hop music. It turned out that what people wanted to hear were my opinions. So I talked more.

The result, I guess, is where I am now.

This blog is now about growth. I’ve said I’d like to be unrecognizable in five years. I’d also like the same for you.

So I’d like you to subscribe. Why? Because quests are important. Top 10 and Twitter posts are not, but they are loud, so they seem that way. Often, the stuff that’s important is quiet. It isn’t obvious.

Your quest is quiet but important. So is mine. Hopefully, we’ll learn something, chat about it, and help each other along.

Thanks.

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* Filed by Julien at 9:42 am under challenge, direction, projects, risk


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

Check out more of my blog, my free book or add me on twitter. Also, we're hiring. Check that out.

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104 Responses to “Why You Should Quit the Internet”

  1. Mitch Joel - Twist Image Says:

    I can’t quit you… ;)

    The problem with quitting the Internet (for me) is that I would miss inspiration and words like this. For me, it’s about balance, breaks and finding the time to do my own thinking (reading, writing, creating).

    I guess, in my own little way, I’m quitting things all of the time.

  2. Ryan Critchett Says:

    With it bro.

    Sure, all of these things are great, but the ultimate goal here is an experience and you can only have that by getting out there, being uncomfortable as hell and forcing yourself to grow.

    I think this is an important message for people who use their analytics as a way of explaining who they are and who think the internet and gaining popularity is the cureall. Ultimately, like Ferriss talks about, it’s an experience we’re looking for. I think we should all be doing what you’re talking about. That’s gonna kick ass dude! And no one will hate you for it, or stop coming to your blog. If anything, people will admire that and will hopefully be triggered to go out and explore on their own.

    Cool post J.

  3. NomadicNeill Says:

    Exactly.

    More questing in real life and less in world of warcraft.

  4. Chris Jordan Says:

    Long time reader; first time commenter.

    This might be the best blog post I’ve read this year… by anyone. And indeed, for a 1,000th post it’s a dandy for sure! Timeless.

    • Julien Says:

      Wow! Thank you Chris, that’s high praise.

      @Neill, it’s because the real world can lead you to the unexpected, while the internet only rarely does.

  5. Jeff Gibbard Says:

    Julien,

    I see what you are getting at but I’m not sure that quitting the internet is the right move for everyone. It’s like using a chainsaw for surgery when all that’s needed is a scalpel.

    If you find yourself addicted to a vague sense of connectedness, opting to sit behind your iphone at dinner with others or avoiding contact altogether, then yes, maybe drastic measures are needed. But rather than quit I would encourage people to be more deliberate in their usage of the internet.

    As today’s communication platform, asking people to withdraw from the internet is similar to saying don’t pick up the phone, when the real point isn’t to stop using it, but to stop overusing it and ignoring the physical world.

    When I tell people that I work in Social Media, some will joke and say things like “you mean ANTI-social media right, haha.” I think your underlying point is not to let the technology get in the way.

    By the way I love your blog and your raw style. You “keep it real.”

    • Julien Says:

      Hi Jeff, I think we agree but we’re using different words. That said, “web addiction,” if you want to call it that, is particularly insidious and probably everyone reading this is susceptible to it, imho. Probably you too, so I’d rather paint with a broad stroke and then have people opt themselves out (like you did) then try to target too much and have lots of people miss something they should hear. Feel me?

  6. Chris Jordan Says:

    It was the part about acting stupid :) And I dig things on the Internet with an anti-Internet undertone (not that that’s what I took away from this at all…). But yeah, well done. Makes me want to start my own blog back up.

  7. Belinda Gomez Says:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world–I earn my living by use of the computer and the internet. No one pays me to walk long distances–they pay me to find them materials they need in order to do their work.
    As a freelancer, if I don’t work–I don’t earn money. No sick days, no pension, no retirement and no rich uncle.
    This advice might be great for someone, but certainly not me!

  8. Sean Malarkey Says:

    Julien, amazing post – put a lot of things in perspective for me. I loved your close -”Because quests are important. Top 10 and Twitter posts are not, but they are loud, so they seem that way. Often, the stuff that’s important is quiet. It isn’t obvious.”

    Enjoy your walk!

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Kathy Rausch Says:

    LOVE IT! I love my job (working on the internet), but I know for a fact (for me) that the internet doesn’t bring happiness. Working with people and helping them unfold their possibilities and bring their message to the world, brings me happiness. I would do the same thing with rocks, if rocks were the medium of choice.

    I’ll be in Shri Lanka for a half a month in August. I know I’ll use the internet to prepare, but I have no plans of using it while I’m there. I’m looking forward to being in remote places where the internet has nothing to do with connections and communication.

    Thanks for the insightful post!

  10. Dan York Says:

    Awesome post, Julien! Best wishes for your time offline in May. Sounds like a great trip and I wish you all the best on your quest! Thanks for reminding us all of the importance of finding that balance and appreciating the offline as much as the online…

  11. Kyle Reed Says:

    We will miss you. Congrats on the 1000 post.

    That stuff on acting stupid and this quote is money
    “What we know is vastly dwarfed by what we do not”

    What a great way to say it.

    This post reminds me a lot of what Donald Miller talks about in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

    It is easy to get caught up in the quest of having a big online platform, but that can all disappear with one button pushed by the president (if in fact he has a kill switch for the interwebs).

    But it is easy to lose track of the journey that we are on and the physical world around us. It is time to stop sitting behind a computer and start walking around in nature. I love this challenge from you. Thanks

  12. John O'Neal Says:

    Wow, great stuff Julien. Journey and story have been powerful forces for me. I used to live in Spain and took groups of students walking on the Camino. The Camino has so much to offer, beauty, spiritual richness, ancient culture, mysticism, and the chance to experience the simplicity of being a pilgrim. There’s also a deep richness in meeting pilgrims from all over the world, all on a quest, all looking for something. The thing I loved most about the Camino was the chance to clear the clutter and noise to be able to listen to the still, small voice. About 10 years ago some friends and I started a refugio for pilgrims at kilometer 73. It’s called the Pilgrim’s Fountain, perhaps you can find refreshment there on your way through. http://www.lafuentedelperegrino.com Best of luck to you Julien. Ultreya. @juanoneal

  13. Joan Ball Says:

    Quest. It’s a brilliant word, really. Forces a step outside our self-serving “strategic plans” and “goals and objectives” into something mysterious. Implies uncertainty. Implies adventure. Implies meaning. This post deserves more than the cursory glance. More than a quick response to an eye-catching headline. That’s the thing about wisdom. It is an invitation rather than a event.

  14. Phyllis Nichols Says:

    It really is all about the journey isn’t it?
    The experience.
    The feeling (not the noun feelings) but the physical feeling of what you are doing.
    We are capable of so much more than we ever expect from ourselves.
    I look forward to hearing how your journey continues!

  15. Andrew P Says:

    Great post, Julien.

    Have a great time on your long walk. I hope you find what you’re looking for, and a lot of other great things that you are not.

  16. Anne Wayman Says:

    You know, I’ve completed quests, been tested and succeeded. I’ve also failed.

    I’m off the ‘net one day a week… it’s not enough!

    Thanks for the reminder… am now open to my next quest.

  17. Carl Says:

    Julien, thanks for the thoughtful piece. I challenge, though, one central premise: the polar view of the ‘net. There’s a prevailing notion that you’re engaged with the internet in unhealthy doses, or completely disconnected. It’s only a subtext, but gets distracting (exhibit A, several comments above).

    “tis a mild disagreement, though. I, too, value the breaking free of the routine. That’s critical to invigorating creativity. Conversely, I have friends who are gifted at finding the new and wondrous in-place, right where they are. That’s been my challenge (as someone who’s meandered the globe on my pilgrimage).

  18. Joseph Ratliff Says:

    Julien, well said.

    For some people whom I’ve had conversations with, it’s almost like the Internet has “replaced” part of their social lives.

    In my opinion, that should NEVER be the case.

    Enjoy your trip dude.

  19. Mark Robertson Says:

    Injected into my bloodstream, J. Partly because J Campbell is my Professor/Merlin (and my second favorite JC).

    One comment on #12: in the post-journey life, there is a wasteland and a new Eden. Everyday.

    According to W Bruggeman there are 3 types of “songs” in the Hebraic tradition: psalms of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation.

    The idea of ascents, is that step 12 is organic. In movies we see 1-12. In our lives we experience an apocalypse and a New Jerusalem every well-lived day.

    Godspeed,
    M

  20. Courtney Cantrell Says:

    Hi Julien. Thanks for this post. I’m having a hard time mentally formulating my reaction to it, much less actually typing words.

    But my main response is a vivid memory of the time my friend and I got lost in the Alps and had to climb a cliff — without climbing gear — in order to get back to civilization. When we got to the top and gazed out over the bowl-shaped valley below, one of us looked at the other and said, “Right now, we are the coolest people in the entire world.”

    Anytime I need a boost or need to remember to disconnect from the “busyness” of daily (and Internet) life, I go back to that memory.

    I miss Europe. And I’ve never been to Spain. I am desperately jealous of your impending trip. I hope it’s cramazing. :)

  21. Jeff Says:

    You have officially inspired me step away from the computer and take my dog straight to the beach right now! Cheers.

    JC

  22. Fleen Says:

    Nice post Julien, I walked the Camino last year. No internet, the first few days I was seeking out internet cafes, then it no longer mattered. Everything you have read about the camino is true. It is a great experience. I found trying to stay off the internet when you return is the hardest step though.

  23. Robyn Says:

    My heartfelt and sincere thanks to you for this post. I went on a solo journey for a few weeks in 2008, and am ready for another. In this ever changing world of digital communication, especially in the web/social media industries, taking a leave brings back a perspective that is all too easily lost, at least for me.
    Thank you, and enjoy every moment of your journey =)

  24. Peggy Says:

    I’m officially entering the “World of Julien” on this your 1000th posting. To say that I find you thoughts inspiring? An understatement. To say that I find your mission to reconnect with what’s “inside” by embracing this month long quest that will connect you to the visual splendour and wonder Mother Nature provides “outside” to be anything less than deeply motivating? Yet again, an understatement.
    Thank you for the gift of you and your thoughts, and your clearly communicated observations through this, your chosen modus operandi, Julien, and may your journey be blessed with enlightenment, laughter, love and all that shows the connectedness that makes us one in the same in all things, all ways, always. Bon voyage!

  25. Michele Welch Says:

    Hey Julien,

    Congrats on reaching the Post 1000 mark! Well done!

    It’s no mistake that I’ve watch Eat Pray Love, read Seth Godin’s book the Purple Cow and now reading this. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. =) What it is, not sure just yet.

    But I do know this, that a change is upon me (as it is on you). I applaud you for taking a break and living life and being open to all experiences, real and virtual. It’s a quest that will only you make you stronger.

    Will I quit the internet? Probably not. Will I take a break soon? Most likely. But do get that there is something bigger then us and if we just open ourselves up to it, it will show itself. When this happens, there’s nothing that can stop us.

    Best of luck and thanks for being a true inspiration!

  26. Stacey Hood Says:

    Great ideas Julien. Do I want to quit the Internet? No, not completely. But I do take worthwhile breaks from it, considering I work online almost all day! Now I find that talking a break from it, going outside, cleaning the house, etc. makes it all the more ‘valuable’.

    As I am an avid follower of Godin and Campbell, I find that the two do frequently cross-over in some strange manner from time-to-time and I’m caught in one of those “A-HA” moments that are unexplainable.

    But to me, it’s opportunity to learn and go to the next level. In my opinion, opportunities are everywhere, it’s up to you what you choose to do with them. Have a safe trip, pilgrim!

  27. Lee LaTour Says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Julian.

    I am walking the Camino in September and look forward to going off the grid for awhile. Enjoy your journey.

  28. Nicole Garton-Jones Says:

    How do you “drop dependents” exactly, speaking as a mother of two small children. This post has interesting ideas about opening your mind and life to new experiences, but it also reflects the somewhat narrow lens of someone of a certain age and life stage.

  29. Matt Says:

    Last night I spoke at a local university and educated some students on careers in social media.

    All without using the web.

    Without the internet (which is an integral part of my career) I would quest to educate others on the experiences I’ve had and how they could benefit from my decisions.

  30. Kaarina Dillabough Says:

    Perfect post Julien. Thanks for the reminder that each person’s quest is quiet, but important. And your quest to the Camino is a dream and quest that’s in my heart and soul.

    I read somewhere a story of a traveller who embarked on the trail and asked a pilgrim why there were piles of stones on the route. He answered:
    “It is said if you pick up a stone and put your sorrow into it, when you place the stone down, you leave your sorrow behind.’

    The traveller did so and later met up with the pilgrim, who said:

    “Didn’t I tell you? I don’t believe in sorrow stones. It’s just a story.”

    I love that story and the story you weave. And every day when I go out walking (which I believe I will now call questing), I pick up a pebble, infuse it with any cares or worries I have, carry it on my quest, and deposit it along the way.

    Enjoy your journey Julien. Safe travels, Kaarina

  31. Ian Says:

    Hi Julien – which route are you travelling when you walk the Camino de Santiago? We live about 500 meters from the path as it travels along the North Coast of Spain in Asturias. Let us know if you are taking this route and call in to say hello…

    Regards

    Ian and Luis

  32. Denim Says:

    Julien,

    Very very well said and timely. I wish there were more of you speaking directly to the next generation. With the internet woven into our daily lives and as we keep up with the 5G jones’, we are surely missing the under-represented *greatest generation* on the internet and have lost a wise voice that says ‘you’re sitting too close to the screen’ ‘its a beautiful day outside now disconnect go out and enjoy nature,’ ‘in my day you could feel a poke’, etc.
    Although this will sound ironic considering your post, I have founded a start-up to tackle this very issue – conveniently called My Internet Corporation. What I hope to accomplish in my grand quest is to remind people that our lives our finite and our time is our greatest, but perishing, resource. That there is so much more beauty and purpose offline than on and that the most important things in life are family and finding your own ‘quest’.
    Brilliant.

    Thank you for this.

    Denim

  33. Jeff Goins Says:

    I sat in a parking lot for 30 minutes, thinking about this. Great post. We all need to go on a journey.

  34. Sean Clark Says:

    Julien,

    You got more quality content into this blog post than some of the books I have read in the last 12 months.

    We spend so much time curating information, adding to our knowledge, we forget to ship, we forget to live life. I can’t pretend I will unplug totally but hell you have certainly made me consider the time i spend in the virtual world instead of with the family around me.

    I have been an avid follower of Media Hacks over the last years and you were always the outspoken rebel in the corner. This amplifies that rebel quality but has a solid foundation in truth.

    Julien I join you on your 5 year quest, see you on the other side!

    Sean

  35. James Whatley Says:

    Glad to see I’m not alone.
    Inspirational man.

    I’m doing the same in exactly four days.
    Going on my own quest, across Russia, Mongolia and China.

    You’ll be gone by the time I get back, but hopefully one day we can meet and share stories ourselves.

    Best of luck man.

  36. Kraig Karson Says:

    The internet is overrated. It brings out the worst in a lot of folks. some of the terrible things I see people post they would never dare say in person. I prefer the real world too. Good for you and thanks for sharing!:)

  37. MainSpring Video Says:

    I think it’s interesting that you had to come full circle – becoming an internet success – to get to the point of “quitting the internet” for 30 days. Sometimes that’s what it takes – it’s very true what you said: “The best stuff happens outside the web.” Congratulations and enjoy your trip!

  38. Kate M Bowers Says:

    Great post; so very inspiring. Thank you!

  39. Joshua Says:

    Thanks a lot Julian. Just when I’m nice and comfortable coasting along, you have to come out with a post that completely changes everything.

    I don’t know yet what my quest will look like, but I know that it will be different and better than before. Thank you for the push. Peace be upon you as you begin your journey.

  40. Richard Says:

    Enjoy your trip in Spain, I’m sure it will be amazing!

  41. Susan Giurleo Says:

    Congrats on your 1000th post…

    Part of my journey is to raise my dependent to emotionally healthy adulthood…It’s a challenge, I have no idea the path I will take, it’s an attachment beyond any I could have online….

    But I’m curious – if you’re totally quitting the internet, why should I subscribe to your blog?

  42. Kathy Sierra Says:

    I am at #7 on my quest. It is a dark time. Your 1000th post was just exactly what I needed to convince myself that the journey is progressing and that I am *this close*. I am at almost exactly one year since I deleted both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Had I not, this quest would not have been possible. I did not quit the internet entirely, or I’d never have seen this (just when I needed it!). But disengaging from the “ambient intimacy” stream of social media/networking for a time has given me something energizing that I did not know was missing. I thought I would return in a year, but as that anniversary just went by, I find I am not yet ready to return.
    As for my journey, it involves the harsh and beautiful conditions of an island of fire and ice, learning and documenting the uniquely proud and spirited horses that emerged from 1,000 years of isolation in the natural environment of Iceland.
    Good travels, Julien. Also… Thank-you.

  43. Howard Stein Says:

    Congrats on 1000 posts! Your stuff has been great. The internet will become a simple passing thought on your journey. As a South African, before emigrating to the US, three mates and I spent six weeks driving through the fragile and dangerous ecosystem of the Okavango Swamp in Southern Africa. There are NO MAPS for this delta as the water rises and drops continuously, submerging roads and revealing tracks. One aims a sturdy 4X4 by guesswork. The water is filled with Goliath Tigerfish a large cousin of the Pirhana, the most dangerous fish in the world. Ten of the world’s most dangerous species call Okavango home. Locals laughed at our campsites. We knew nothing. The trip is in my dna now. After it ended I moved to Los Angeles! Nuff said. Good luck Julien, may good things come from your silence.

  44. John McLachlan Says:

    Welcome to the 1980s (or before). :-)

    Great post, Julien. What an amazing journey to undertake. Can’t wait to hear about your insights.

    Will miss you though. John.

  45. Judy Helfand Says:

    Julien,
    I am thinking this May you will be our “Man of La Mancha”; weaving a play within a play. This is your quest and maybe we are like the prisoners waiting to learn how the story ends or at least we want to see the next scene.

    Cervantes or Don Quixote…
    ‘And the world will be better for this
    That one man, scorned and covered with scars
    Still strove with his last ounce of courage
    To reach the unreachable star’

    Remember to keep your eye on the understory.
    Judy

  46. Tim Bursch Says:

    Julien,
    Wow. #mindf. We get so easily suckered into complacency and miss out a bigger picture. Just blasted my mediocrity! Thank you for sharing and challenging. Enjoy your quest!

  47. John McLachlan Says:

    Judy’s wonderful comment made me think of:

    Through the woodland, through the valley,
    Comes a horseman wild and free.
    Tilting at the windmills passing,
    Who can the brave young horseman be?

    He is wild but he his mellow,
    He is strong but he is free.
    He is cruel but he is gentle,
    He is wise but he is meek.

    Go Julien.

  48. Christoph Schork Says:

    We are all too intertwined now, without the internet communication, we would never have read that post and all the comments. It is here to stay and we better accept it and live with it.

  49. Alison Richards Says:

    I’m on day 5 of a 30 day “quest” to live zero waste and zero impact. I followed a random string of tweets, blogs and links to get to your page. Life is brilliant the way it guides us to the intended destination. I’d like to think that I’m at step 9. The ordeal was May 28, 2009. I am blessed to be alive and give thanks each day for that. Thanks for imparting your thoughts and strengthening my conviction and dedication to the task at hand, 30 Zero Zero.

    Just 25 days to go… and then some.

    Enjoy your journey!

  50. Stu McLaren Says:

    Julien,

    I love the word “Quest”.

    It has meaning and purpose.

    It feels bigger than ourselves.

    My wife and I just completed a quest of our own:

    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=640339&id=621430493&l=bf9f0c94ab

    What’s interesting though is how one quest will lead to another.

    We have already begun thinking about the “next” quest but after reading this post I’m thinking much, much bigger – thank you for that Julien!

  51. Scarborough Dude Says:

    Julien, it’s been a rich experience just following your journey- starting for me at that first Montreal podcaster meetup. I love how you made the transition from audio to writing, when so many go the opposite (and easier) direction. I sincerely congratulate you on your well-deserved and hard won success. But it sometimes seems to me that you have attracted a heard of sheep, who will grab at every idea you throw out there, thinking it applies to them, when all you are trying to do is get people to think for themselves. I envision many of your followers planning self-indulgent journeys and who will return with little more than bragging rights & digital snapshots of them doing their thing. Far better they were implored to do something to help others, rather than satisfy their own egos. Giving up the internet for a few weeks does little to help make this a better world; one grows through service, not vacations. I know this will be misinterpreted, but I can attest that my 2 years teaching in a bush village in West Africa did more for me than any other travel I’ve ever done.

    • Julien Says:

      That’s not the first time I’ve had someone tell me that. If you check the comments over the past few months, you’ll notice a few others that say similar things (and sometimes even accuse me of wanting that kind of praise, etc).

      I don’t necessarily disagree with you, either, but I can’t control how people receive the message. Or can I?

  52. Bernard Dahl Says:

    Keep it up and you’ll be like the Dos-Equis man later on. With piercings.

  53. caminolola Says:

    Hey Julien,

    I did the same exact trip in May of 2007 and was able to capture and hold onto the feeling of invincibility for a good year. Since then, this invincibility and adrenaline of completing 800 kms on my own in a foreign land has slowly chipped away bit by bit.

    Today – I found your post serendipitously, and I’m reminded of where I was 3 years ago and what I was about to face. Thanks for putting your words out there and most importantly thanks for the reminder that I need to kick myself in the ass and do something again.

    Sincerely

    Camino Lola

  54. John O'Neal Says:

    PS – love the conch shell, missed it my first time through. Very cool symbol for the Camino.

  55. Amy Tobin Says:

    When I was 25 I could have done this – very low overhead and a lot more freedom.

    My BUSINESS depends on the internet, and I have mouths to feed.

    Once I make it big time, I’ll consider a bold move like this, but for now it’s just dreaming.

    I dig the inspiration, but more than anything I’m a pragmatist at this stage in my life. Money matters.

  56. Tanner Says:

    Julian, this is a really fucking inspiring article.

    It all comes down to this: do something with your life, your time, the minutes and seconds. DO SOMETHING, and start now (but remember that it’s not starting if you don’t actually launch something after).

    “Memorize and follow this never-fail recipe: get started. Don’t quit.” – Barbara Winter

  57. Debbie Says:

    Balance and purpose. Yes, if you’re so far gone in online presence, perhaps a complete respite from the Internet is in order. But I’m not sure its the answer if you can’t balance in the first place.

    Excellent reminder to refocus some energy on your own soul. Can be a hard task for some who are too focused on manipulating their perceived status. So much freedom in being true to yourself and not caring what others think…isn’t that the quest?

  58. Jaime Says:

    Hi Julien and commenters,

    I may be one of the people over the last few months who has made a comment similar to Scarborough Dude. When I first started reading your blog, I did feel challeneged by how people seemed to blindly adore your every word. With this post, however, you deserve it. As you said in this post, you have grown immensely over the course of 1000 posts.

    I am not an internet junkie and it would not be difficult for me to extricate myself (I don’t even use Facebook). This message is a reminder. It is like standing in front of the ocean. We are all so small and we miss our lives and our purpose for being here and for deserving to seek out the biggest, most beautiful, most colourful lives we can just because we are here and we are human. The meaning of life? I think it might be as simple as this: Live it.

  59. irene Says:

    Hi Julien, I have been reading your website for awhile now and it suprised me that you are going to spain to do the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. I am from Spain and did it last year (I took a different route though and walked only 200 km). It is an experience I recommend, but be sure to take vaseline for your boots and a needle and thread for your blisters…
    It is a wonderful route and I am certain that you will enjoy it. Take a light bag. Although i am sure that all this advice you will have already heard. Where are you starting from, France?
    Have fun.

  60. Satya Says:

    Congrats on hitting 1,000! Epic. Love the way your mind works and the edges you’re striding. Rivers and Tides is fucking brilliant btw.

  61. Jess Ostroff Says:

    Are you going alone?

  62. Henway Says:

    Does that Julian Assange essay link work for anyone??? Anyone wanna mirror it for me?

  63. gwern Says:

    Henway: the IA link is fine; being a charity on a very tight budget, you sometimes need to try a few times before requests get through.

    Julien Smith: This is my first visit here, and your essay was not too bad. However, it will probably be my last visit. I don’t think I have seen a website quite so visually unreadable in the last month. From the enormous footer photograph (which breaks page-up and page-dn, and which leads to a half fan when one scrolls down, so the footer thing doesn’t even work), to the checkerboard background (which gives me a blinding headache trying to read against), to the floating ‘subscribe by email’ link – it’s just a mess.

    But maybe that’s the ironic subtle point? ‘You’re reading this visually painful stuff rather than doing something better.’ If so, well done.

  64. Marina Modlin Says:

    Julien,

    I enjoyed this post, thank you. I am very jealous of your upcoming trip to Spain. Maybe I’ll do the same one day (sounds like something I’d do!) and think of you.

    Meanwhile, I’ve used this post, about quitting the internet, as a basis for my own first blog post. I’ve been meaning to start for a while – so thank you for providing the inspiration to dive in.

    Marina

  65. Dave Thackeray Says:

    Julien, I yo-yo here and away all the time. Unintentionally. This is no ego-massaging BS; I genuinely find you and your words captivating and I wonder why I haven’t bought your TA book with the equally-mesmerising Brogan co-helming.

    This quitting the internet thing is a compelling philosophy. Exactly how badly off were we in the pre-www days? One thing is for sure: We were less ignorant.

    We’re more aware, but more dumbed down. We can play in the sand and build or destroy our own egos, but rarely do we engorge on personal growth through the pipes.

    I mention this because I believe extinguishing power on the router would actually help us upgrade from ignorant to stupid. To make us ask questions again, rather than think because we have the Google, we automatically know it all.

    Arrogance is ugly and complacent. Stupid is pure and ready to learn. I know where I’d rather sit.

  66. Peter Paluska Says:

    Julien,

    This one is destined to go down as a classic, already is as far as I am concerned. Bravo.
    I think, for me, it all goes back to my favorite guiding principle in life: balance, balance, balance.

    I love the idea of unplugging for a measured amount of clock and calendar time, with deliberate, equally measured check-ins where appropriate.

    These days it is indeed more daunting, what with the inboxes filling up and all but maybe that is exactly why we must assume the role of quester and adventurer, seeker – Breaking away shows courage and inspires self-confidence.

    Our internal programming guides us with a sure hand when we state with unequivocal clarity that we are willing to stand naked in the pouring rain with no promise of a reward.

    Congratulations on your 1000th post, as well! C’est magnifique!

    Best wishes from hereon in,

    Peter

  67. Ray Martin Says:

    I like the Seth Godin quote about the most important time in a project being when you decide it will ship. It’s kind of like deciding that you’re going to take a trip and actually buying the plane ticket or taking the first step on your walk. Until then, it’s only an idea or a plan with no action. Thanks for sharing that. Good luck being off the grid next month!

  68. Edgar Says:

    Julien,

    Awesome post man!

    I like the “…because it’s your quest, not theirs.”

    That’s what we need. To have a quest in life. To live for something.

    And to quote Paulo Coelho: “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

  69. Josefin Gullbo Says:

    Julien,

    this truly was an inspiring blog post! The journey you’re about to undertake sounds amazing and I envy you for having the guts it takes to do something like this.
    I love how you say; “The best stuff happens outside the web. Outside is new and frightening, not comfortable. Encountering pain helps transform your vision of yourself and forces you to grow”. This is so true – I think that in today’s society, people easily forget that there is so much more to the world than what we are used to (the internet, and social media in general).
    Hopefully more people will be brave enough to face the world offline, and venture out to see the real world. Someone once said; ‘Sometimes when you loose yourself, it’s really just as well, because that’s when you find yourself’ – something I find very fitting.

    Good Luck on your quest!

    Josefin

  70. vaspi Says:

    i m in greece a tottally weird place in europe to live these days and i was telling my wife this morning that we should change everything very quickly cause the next few months things will change no matter what.the country has bankrupt onlythat it s not officially anounced

    she has her considerations, you know leaving behind a relativelly comfort life it s not easy.

    then i open the computer and fall on this post of yours and i m thinking holy shit this is not a coincidence, this came to me for a reason.

    thanx mate, good luck to your journey, though i m sure you dont need it

  71. Chris Pinnock Says:

    Good luck with the journey. Going offline for a bit doesn’t hurt anyone.

  72. John L Says:

    Good post here Sir!

    Quitting the internet is not a good thing.
    I am educating my self on the internet, and soon I know I will be able to build
    a machine that can run without fuel thanks to the internet.
    You simpely will not find information like that in common bookstores.
    Fuelless dot com should be on every computer in the whole world.
    Be the change you want to see in the world.

    Good luck with the walk!

  73. Kevin Says:

    For hero’s journey see Kal Bashir’s 510+ stage version over at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html ; it’s brilliant.

  74. The Good Greatsby Says:

    I’ve been trying to convince people to quit the Internet, but unfortunately my only method of reaching them is to use the Internet, and I sound a little hypocritical.

  75. Dave Sohnchen Says:

    I always find it ironic when posts like this come happen across my screen at just the precise moment it needs to.

    I need a quest. I’ve known it for a while but couldn’t articulate it the way you just did. I find myself running to the internet for validation and belonging. Pretty sad considering I’ve got a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters. Even now they’re across the room playing while sit here typing away.

    A couple days ago I recognized the illicit validation I seek online (http://bit.ly/eisSEX). I’ve had many ideas and dreams that have all come and gone because I didn’t decide to ship on any of them. I try to make them work online but lose interest because there’s no risk.

    Thank you for the push to start a quest and realign what matters most to me before it slips through my fingers without me noticing.

    Your writing is helping me grow.

  76. @KatCalbes Says:

    Julien (great name btw, also shared by my brilliant 4-yr-old nephew) – congrats on the 100th blog post. And thank you for sharing your amazing thoughts with the rest of us lucky folks. I am truly inspired. I believe my quest already began. Your blog post just reminded me to continue on it no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

  77. Deb Brown Says:

    Julien,
    I just quit the internet for 10 days. My father passed away, and I was needed IRL. Suddenly, the internet didn’t matter. It took me 10 days to get back to it. And now, I have a different outlook. See things are not worse, they are just different. Going without the internet was not a hard decision – it was a necessary one.

    Next time I go without, I hope I get to make the decision and not have it made for me. But there will be a next time – I recharge when I’m offline. It’s necessary.

    Safe travels my friend.

  78. Florina Baciu Says:

    Missing your posts, Julien!
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  79. Ann Sheybani Says:

    Amazing post. I found myself through adventure. First marathons, than high mountains. Before that, I was as aimless as they get. Looking outside of myself for solutions, and for someone else to blame.
    Have a couple of friends doing the same walk. Really compelling.
    Enjoy.

  80. Sean Toohey Says:

    Great post Julien. In 2007, I took the month of May off, and took the family to live in the jungles of Costa Rica. It was the best trip i ever had. Although I was rarely online, it was the first time I managed to write a short blog post every day (offline) so that I could recall the adventure. Every May since, i think I should be taking another month to re-connect with the family and just enjoy life.

    Cheers,
    Sean

  81. Martyn Says:

    You’re crazy.

    What’s up with the italics? The home page is all italic, the individual posts aren’t.

  82. Jessamy Goddard Says:

    Excellent post Julien. It certainly strikes a chord with my own feelings. I believe that you can make your own life completely change just by taking a few steps. The difficulty for us seems to be fear of taking a risk. Yet at the end of the day we are people with tremendous capabilities in an extraordinary world that we ignore much of the time. We gather stuff around ourselves as a security blanket. My own bookshelves are full of books I may never open again! We walk past so many people in the day and never even meet their eyes, let alone speak to them. What a waste! One thing I like about the internet is meeting people like you!

  83. RenegadePilgrim Says:

    Newsflash…there is internet on the Camino, if you need it. I walked the Camino last year and enjoyed being disconnected from society via the internet. My mother, however, did not. So, I made sure to check in every couple of days to let her know I was alive and well.

    I will be interested to hear what your experience is of the camino. Two things. Go with no expectations and be open to the experience. And don’t forget, the Camino provides!

    Buen Camino!

  84. Shirley Thompson Says:

    I walked the Camino from St. Jean Pied du Port to Santiago two years ago this month. Wishing you safe and happy travels…it is such a beautiful experience. I blogged along the way and took many photos. Glad I did because it’s so good to be able to go back and put myself in those moments again. http://shirleythompson.typepad.com/blog/

    My heart and spirit remain on the Camino as I walk on through life…there isn’t a week that goes in which the transformative power of the Camino doesn’t affect my choices and my approach to life in a strong and powerful way.

    Wishing you peace,
    Shirley

    PS: SmartWool socks with CoolMax liners rocked the Camino. 800 km and not a single blister!

  85. Samuel Lavoie Says:

    I’m digging the 30 days off walking in Spain. That for sure would be a blast of inspiration for the body, mind and soul.

    Peace

  86. Judy Helfand Says:

    Julien,
    I thought about you yesterday. I went to the movies with my husband. We saw “Moneyball”. I like movies that tell a true story. I think you might be a bit like Billy Beane. But that is not the reason I thought about you.
    I saw a preview for Martin Sheen’s soon to be released movie called “The Way”. http://theway-themovie.com/ It also stars his son Emilio Estevez.

    Hope to see you at BWELA. I won’t be there Thursday when you are speaking, but maybe you are staying on through Friday and Saturday. It would be great to meet you.

    Judy

  87. b' Says:

    yo fam,

    let me first start off by saying writers never die. insightful. to sum this article up, make you, yours.

    Drop. Decorate. I implore you, just think.

  88. Lana Says:

    Shit this is so resonating with me right now…fuck. I’m on number 5 supper excited, I should quit FB and twitter…and Google+ for that long…yeah, too much learning and fucking around and not enough doing shit…30 days ok seriously starting now 30 days unless people ask me a specific question or something or want to contact me via these platforms I am not touching them….I’m serious..this is gonna be tough but I’ma do it… jesus I can feel the withdrawal symptoms already lol

  89. Aaron Says:

    Really enjoy your stuff. I can relate with a lot of things you have figured out along the way, that I am just now figuring out. Truly inspirational and humorous.

  90. Dave Says:

    I’m quitting the internet because I’m sick of all the crap that people write.

  91. Todd Meyers Says:

    Julian -

    Have followed your blog for a while. First time to comment. I have spent the last 10+ years living a quest filled life. More people, less plugged in, has led to more awareness and clarity in my life. As a fifty one year old. It is beautiful to see your own children mature into compassionate, caring human-beings, who cherish their daily interaction (face-to-face) with friends and family. I have friends who rag about the younger generation and their supposed addiction to all things tech. I always respond with hope, as I see things they don’t right now. More and more of our kids generation are stepping out of their comfort zone and experiencing their own quest. I am proud of my daughters, nieces and nephews for taking on the challenges they have. I too, have learned from their experiences. It’s about doing life together.
    Keep up the great work.

  92. Andy Says:

    Amazing post. Really interesting thoughts – I’ve been considering notions of character recently, with regards to the somewhat odd notion of ‘individualism’. I developed a comedy government initiative on my latest podcast – that essentially would leave us dressing like cartoon characters (wearing the same style, colour etc clothes every day).

    We often hide behind our appearance, relying on it to convey our imagined/desired identity, and are able to somewhat sacrifice elements of our character because of it. I think the same can be true of the ways we use the internet. We can convince ourselves that this is who we really are and that our ‘real-life’ encounters are secondary to this.

    Anyway, that was not my main point. My main point was just how amazing I find the comment feeds on your posts – they provide portals into such an incredible cacophony of brilliance. Discovering some great websites as a result. So thanks for inspiring people enough to comment :)

    podcast is here: http://atlumschema.com/atlumschema/media/podcast/

  93. Kay Says:

    I stumbled across this post searching vainly on “How To Quit the Internet” – the irony is delicious really considering I actually googled that sentence. What I found was so much more, your blog is inspirational and as someone who has suffered mental illness for years now, I have a tendency to hide behind the virtual world in attempt to find happiness. Whether it be interactive role playing or finding friends online. Not to say it has been completely wasted as I have made real life friends through the internet but other than that it has given me more reasons to dwell on my habit to shy away from the real world when I’m on a particularly depressive episode. Thank you for your words, I will seriously consider doing this in order to find myself back.

  94. DeWayne Knight Says:

    I am quitting the Internet for an altogether different reason–because so many sites are installing paywalls and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter will soon begin generating revenue by imposing membership fees, no matter how much they say they won’t charge members. In other words, it’s money on top of money, since I, along with everyone else, already pay a monthly fee just to subscribe to the Internet. Additionally, I predict the day Congress will soon impose background checks for anyone wanting to get on the Net, akin to the Brady Bill for gun ownership.

  95. Ashley Says:

    Hi,
    just stumbled onto your page and saw you have written you are going to wear vibramfivefingers for doing camino de santiago. i did the walk last year (the best thing i have done in my life) and just wanted to let you know that i came across a few people over the journey that had those shoes and they created HUGE issues for them because a lot of the walk is unpaved and have small and large rocks all over the road and not wearing real hiking boots created bruising underneath their feet very quickly and took them out of action very quickly.

    im just speaking form what i saw last october and maybe you have some different or new version of that shoe they didnt have…

    anyways, good luck and enjoy! you really are in for an incredible journey!

  96. Eric Says:

    Just discovered you blog when a friend posted your “Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck” to Facebook and I’m loving what you have to say. I quit the internet for over a week in January 2010 and lived in a tree on a mountain in West Virginia in the winter with only my body as a heat source at the edge of a mountaintop removal coal mining site to stop blasting near an impoundment holding billions of gallons of coal slurry. I read your blog about money and like that as a kid if you had all the money you needed you’d protect the trees. If I had all the money I needed, I’d protect a lot more mountains and forests and waters.

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