Regardless of whether you are a marketer, journalist, software developer, CEO, or just a 13 year old kid with nothing to do, everyone could could use a little more time offline.
Here are 5 great reasons to spend some time away from the internet... before it's too late.
1. There is nothing like breathing, smiling, far-from-perfect real people
The internet has come a long way and it now allows us to communicate with anyone, almost instantly, but giving the online world too much value can keep you from the much more important things in life. Real people are out there waiting for you to live life with them and the web will often make you forget it. When we are online, we are only interacting and collaborating with a minuscule part of the real people behind all those strings of data, misspelled sentences and shaky videos. There is much to be lived with family, friends, and even strangers. You will need to disconnect in order to really connect with them.
2. Your ego is lying to you
Constantly writing about your thoughts, ideas, and opinions is a great way to express yourself, but freedom of speech doesn't mean that you should only be concerned about your own 140 characters of brilliance. The more time you spend online, the less in touch you will be with reality. It is likely that you will get used to the comfort of hiding behind a screen and seeing others as a means to an end. It is also likely that you will place too much value on the idea of "being someone". One thing is to present yourself in a good way and offer your skills and abilities to a world that might need them, but it's another thing to think you need to be marketed 24/7 no matter what. You are not just a brand. You're much more than that.
3. There is a part of you that loves to be shallow
Looking at the "trending topics" on Twitter is enough to realize that most online conversations are about very trivial and unimportant things. While sports, technology, advertising, and even world news are fun to talk about and share with others, they often keep us from other much more profound and meaningful aspects of life. A love for snippets of information can keep us from learning, pondering, meditating, and truly discussing about deep things like values, faith, morality, justice, grace, repentance, love, truth, poverty, greed, and life itself. Keep the shallow you from swallowing the rest of you.
4. The simple things rarely transcend into the digital world
Sure, you can see YouTube videos of people sharing a meal and you can certainly tweet about your favorite sandwich (OK, I went too far with that one), but there's nothing like actually seating with friends to eat and talk. If you're constantly online (whether at work, at home, or on your cell phone), you might miss your child's first words, a you-had-to-be-there moment with your wife/husband, and other valuable memories that not even a camera can capture. Most things online will stay there for a while, but real life is constantly moving forward and there is absolutely no way to live anything twice.
5. The web keeps us from actually doing things
Typing, chatting, instant-messaging, and even thinking about things you want to do will help you remember that you want to do them. But at some point, you have to get up and just do them. Do we really need an iPhone app that tells us how many calories we need to burn and what exercises we need to do on a Tuesday? Not really. Go for a run. Call an old friend. Write a business plan. Burn it and then start a company without one. Send a real gift for a change. Write a real letter. Smile and laugh out loud in front of random people. Tell a story to a stranger. Spend some time with your pets. Play an actual game with others. Give a hug to someone who doesn't expect it. Stop being alive only in your mind. Don't be funny and witty only when you type.
Life is too short to spend most of it online.