In 2011 Lulzsec hacked into multiple major games publishers databases — stealing user info, and generally making rascals of themselves. During that period of activity, Jake “Topiary” Davis was arrested in the Shetland Isles, in the north of Scotland. Since then, after pleading guilty, Davis has been forbidden from using the internet. In this absolutely fascinating guest blog for The Guardian, Davis talks about how he's survived without the internet and how, in many ways, he feels as though it has made him a more fulfilled human being.
Things are calmer, slower and at times, I'll admit, more dull. I do very much miss the instant companionship of online life, the innocent chatroom palaver, and the ease with which circles with similar interests can be found. Of course, there are no search terms in real life – one actually has to search. However, there is something oddly endearing about being disconnected from the digital horde.
It is not so much the sudden simplicity of daily life – as you can imagine, trivial tasks have been made much more difficult – but the feeling of being able to close my eyes without being bombarded with flashing shapes or constant buzzing sounds, which had occurred frequently since my early teens and could only be attributed to perpetual computer marathons. Sleep is now tranquil and uninterrupted and books seem far more interesting. The paranoia has certainly vanished. I can only describe this sensation as the long-awaited renewal of a previously diminished attention span.
For it is our attention spans that have suffered the most. Our lives are compressed into short, advertisement-like bursts or "tweets". The constant stream of drivel fills page after page, eating away at our creativity. If hashtags were rice grains, do you know how many starving families we could feed? Neither do I – I can't Google it.
It's absolutely incredible. It's sharp, insightful and truly enlightening. I spent so much of my working an personal life on the internet, interacting with people, creating content, tweeting — hearing the viewpoint of a person so heavily involved in that lifestyle, who has since had to give it up, is just brilliant.
A must read.