Edit 8:57PM Eastern: I'm streaming live!


My name is Paul Miller. I write for The Verge, and before that Engadget. I mostly write features and editorials, and my biggest Reddit successes have involved my sporadic StarCraft coverage.

I'm leaving the internet for a year, starting May 1st, and keeping my job for The Verge writing about tech. I'll be available to answer questions up until midnight tonight (Monday, April 30th), which is when I pull the plug.


Proof: https://twitter.com/futurepaul/status/197011945042358273

DoubleProofPlusGood: http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/30/2988798/paul-miller-year-without-internet

ShamelessPlug: I explained some of my reasoning on this month's episode of On The Verge. http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/30/2987892/on-the-verge-episode-005-tony-fadell-and-chris-grant

This post from a little while back really spoke to me. He's not me exactly, but I do feel this way often: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/rd58d/i_am_wasting_my_20s_in_front_of_a_computer_screen/

4:35PM Eastern: I'm back in action for a while. Ask me something new! Mega-sprint will be at 9pm to midnight where I'll stream a bunch of stuff simultaneously and OD on stimulation. Then I'll pull the plug.

Comments: 2127 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

EatingSteak1661 karma

I actually did this, from July 2009-2010. I have to recommend against it.

Started off as a 'FUCK YOU' to AT&T, who screwed up setting up my Internet access, made me wait two weeks, then ended up saying they couldn't give me Internet access at all in my area, THEN SENT ME A BILL FOR IT. Long story on that, but tl;dr, they're evil, and I just said, "hell, why not, I can live without the internet"

  • I thought it would be sort of a 'challenge' at first. My god, how could we live without the internet, right?

  • It wasn't nearly as challenging as I had expected. I mean, I still had a job and a car, and stuff like buying groceries and walking in the park hadn't changed.

  • The minor conveniences really showed through. I had to use a PHONE BOOK to find a locksmith. A PHONE BOOK (really, first time in over 10 years). Booking plane tickets was a pain in the ass. Finding a newspaper or whatever to get movie showtimes. What time does this restaurant close, etc etc. What's going on I'm the city this weekend...

  • It became rather dull rather quickly. The movies, TV shows, and games I had saved on my computer became stale rather quickly. When I bought games in the store, they always ran like shit cause my comp wasn't patched. Had to have a friend get updates/drivers onto a CD, bleh (is that cheating?). Everything happened more slowly. You'd be surprised how much interesting stuff you have to talk and learn about of you actually read something that isn't cat pictures. And how boring you seem when you don't.

  • Regained some appreciation for 'old' forms of media, but was more often reminded of how much they suck. I fired through a lot of books, which was nice (and easier, when you're not getting bombarded with emails and facebook requests, and crap like that). Other than that, news from a paper or on TV is just insufferable. Ew.

  • Life just seemed to pass me by a bit more. I was always behind what games, movoesl and TV shows were hot, what news was interesting, how far battery technology or cell phone trends had developed (heh, I almost completely missed the decline of Blackberry).

Really hope you get to read this and it doesn't get buried. I'd recommend six months rather than a year. It's not nearly as challenging or rewarding as you'd think, it's just boring.

But congrats on the ambition. Hope it works out well for you!

[Edit] Glad enough people dug this up even with 700+ comments. A final thought I'd like to add is that you'd be surprised how many ways you use the internet indirectly. A celebrity or sports figure might make a big announcement on Twitter, someone calls you to tell that so-and-so just posted on facebook that they got engaged. You see a hardcopy of The Onion newspaper. Even mainstream news organizations get a lot of their content virally. You go to a party, and someone has an ipad hooked up to their sound system with Pandora streaming (yeah could do without that last one, I know).

I've always been amazed at how slow the 'dinosaurs' of established businesses are to pick up technology, but it's impressive to see even restaurant chains giving special perks if you "like" them on facebook or follow them on Twitter.

If nothing else, it's definitely obvious how much of life passes you by if you shut out technological changes. I missed out on so much in just a year... I'd feel like a complete moron if I had never bothered to use a computer ...can only imagine, but wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

futurepaul157 karma

I appreciate the concern! I'm still going ahead with it, but will watch out for the traps you mention. Maybe I'll like being bored? I have a lot of crazy experiments to try out along the way, so that might help me out. Plus I really do want to read a lot of books!

keeprunning717 karma

If someone gives you a GIF on a USB drive, can you watch it?

futurepaul839 karma

Always. Always and forever.

Zeu4s636 karma

If you had to guess what your one cracking point would be, what would it be?

futurepaul1427 karma


k1no316 karma


saute640 karma

So he can blog about it.

subtlestern386 karma

What's he going to do for a follow up act? Live strictly on the internet and not leave the house for a year? Ah fuck, I just gave him his next idea...

futurepaul557 karma

YES. Man, do you want royalties or just a credit in the liner?

mike10010100240 karma

Isn't this similar to saying "I'm going to live without electricity for a year"? You're going to make your life inherently more difficult while attempting to continue your job that requires you to constantly be up to date, all to prove....what? That the internet makes you a different person?

You're not even going to be truly giving up the internet. In order for you to function as a journalist in the tech field, you have to get your information from somewhere. Books and magazines are published too infrequently and don't contain the requisite data. You'll still be using telephones (a basic vocal form of internet), and you'll still have friends that will tell you data from the internet. So perhaps it would be easier to live in the woods somewhere, because otherwise you're just making some aspects of your life harder while maintaining the same addiction to information, if it should be called an addiction at all.

Personally, I find it just as much of a publicity stunt as living without electricity for a year. I wish you good luck, and I hope you find something meaningful, other than realizing that the internet is a useful tool for making your life easier. And, yes, I realize some might say it's an addiction, but the world moves faster than before the internet, and information changes faster every day. I wish you well, and I look forward to reading your journal entries.

futurepaul131 karma

I think it would almost be impossible to be alive in the modern world today without feeling the effects of the internet. I think the decisions I'm making will have a serious impact on my daily life, and it's that impact that I'm seeking and interested in.

My addiction to information might still exist, but it will at least be constrained in certain ways.

JackOCat235 karma

I know everyone at the Verge is kind of a hipster... but congrats on becoming the Michael Jordan of hipsters.

Working at a tech internet news site and not using the internet essentially because it is 'too main stream'. F***ing genius!

I recommend carrying around a camera that uses film, a pager and if you are going to use a cellphone, make it one of those giant 80s ones.

God's speed sir.

futurepaul109 karma

If you're going to be a hipster, you might as well go all the way, right? However, I'm not going freegan or starting a vegetable garden or doing any leatherwork while I'm away.

lidster233 karma

No question, but I'm looking forward to the followup AMA on May 1, 2013.

R3TR0208 karma

or May 2, 2012

futurepaul138 karma

This is a good question. Should I come back May 1 2013 or May 2?

waywardbiologist172 karma

Realistically, let's say your friend or significant other or family member is watching a movie on Netflix and invites you to sit down. You protest: "No, I can't do that. Let's go to Blockbuster." Don't you think this will put people off, like a vegetarian who ruins a meal by declining to eat anything or inconveniences the group by insisting on going to a veg-friendly place?

Maybe you should be lax on this one.

Edit: sorry, not "ruin." I like my veg friends and definitely support the movement on environmental (and to a lesser extent ethical) grounds, but sometimes it's a hassle. When so much of our socializing revolves around eating, it's no surprise you're going to see some conflict between people with different diets.

futurepaul246 karma

I don't want to be an asshole, but all my friends and fam have been very supportive so far, so I think they'll understand. I recently learned that Jackass 3 was a dry set to Steve-O's addiction recovery. So maybe it will be a little like that.

R3TR0139 karma

What if the Paper app adds a new brush that you need to download?

futurepaul211 karma

Start crying.

poet_will120 karma

Are you doing this for a story?

What do you think is going to be the most difficult aspect of this experiment?

futurepaul181 karma

I will be writing about my experiences a lot, but it's also a personal journey.

The toughest thing is not being able to research stuff I want to write about, and not being able to track down sources.

archon810188 karma

So you're going to throw floppies at Topolsky's head now?

  • "Hey, Topolsky"
  • "Hey, Miller"
  • "I'm done with this review of Snake '97, publish it, bitch!"

futurepaul158 karma

I def had a version of Snake for the Mac on floppy. 8/10 stars.

poet_will58 karma

So, how are you going to write about new technology? Is it going to me more interview and hands-on based reviews?

futurepaul74 karma

Yeah, probably. I will get newspapers and magazines, and be able to talk to my colleagues, so I'll be semi-current.

poet_will21 karma

With gadgets that have internet connectivity, will part of your review be about internet speeds and so forth?

futurepaul104 karma

Lucky for me I don't do a lot of reviews. Maybe I'll start reviewing 5-year-old MP3 players.

lipthem110 karma

Is the because of your experience with SkyDrive? DAMNIT Microsoft.

futurepaul135 karma

What pains me the most is that I'll never know the full joys of using SkyDrive and OneNote.

MyPackage64 karma

Are you hoping that by the time you come back Wifi calling and HD voice are widespread?

futurepaul107 karma

They'd better be. Otherwise I'll do another year.

macpatrik61 karma


futurepaul123 karma

They're paying me! So that says a lot. Nilay said he was really happy and excited for me, and then I almost started crying.

macpatrik50 karma


futurepaul66 karma

He's really excited for me too. At first I wasn't even sure if I could do this with a job at The Verge, but he made it happen.

SOLAR__FLARE54 karma

QUICK. Print up every Wikipedia article, just in case.

futurepaul84 karma

UGH. Ran out of toner :(

bcpk52 karma

Will you still be on the vergecast?

How will you survive without eSports?

futurepaul83 karma

Would it be cheating to go to a live esports event? Obviously a barcraft would be out of the question.

bcpk49 karma

Would it be cheating to go to a live esports event?

I guess not, but a lot of the "non-internet" alternatives to our common pastimes seem to not be free. Have you considered the financial impact of not using the internet?

futurepaul34 karma

I think some things will cost a lot more, but other things won't even come up, so I won't know what I'm missing. So more ripoffs, less impulse buys. We shall see!

manskies49 karma

How will you be writing about tech and leaving the internet for a year? Explain please. I'm confused.

futurepaul132 karma

Was there tech before the internet? I hope to find out!

danielmayhem35 karma

How does your brother, Ross, feel about this?

ohnorosco73 karma

I plan on using the internet twice as much to restore balance, starting now to add the usual (no relation) tag to this thread.

futurepaul36 karma

He's been giving me a lot more noogies lately. But I got the last laugh when he got grounded for not cleaning his room.

LaughingStoic30 karma

How do your parents feel about this?

futurepaul97 karma

My mom just called me and wished my luck! She's going to mail me some records I used to listen to growing up.

Aquagoat173 karma

Cool! Join us in /r/vinyl....oh yeah, shit sorry...

futurepaul32 karma


keeprunning25 karma

How do your friends feel about this?

futurepaul84 karma

I'll probably inconvenience them more than I'll inconvenience myself.

[deleted]12 karma


pentahelix26 karma

How do I feel about this?

TjerkR35 karma

How does the internet feel about this?

-The_Internet145 karma

I'm fine with it.

futurepaul76 karma

k, thx

thejongates27 karma

Are you including internal networks and home networks in this "ban"? Could you watch a streamed movie from your home computer? Can you receive a file from a coworker via intranet at The Verge?

futurepaul47 karma

I could do local networking, but I'm really scared of "accidentally" getting on the internet, just because I have wi-fi on. We'll see if I can clean room it.

MyPackage25 karma

remember when you trolled the internet and wrote about how awesome the blackberry storm keyboard was http://www.engadget.com/2008/10/08/blackberry-storm-9500-hands-on/

In all seriousness I wish you the best of luck Paul. The pieces you've written on wifi calling, Robotics and Starcraft have all been superb. I usually wont sit down and read long form content on tech websites but I do for your pieces. I'll continue following your work during your internet blackout.

futurepaul25 karma

This is my biggest regret in my career.

Thanks for the support!

jakelear17 karma

Paul, Thanks for doing the AMA. Can you go into more details about your disconnect? (eg, why are you going offline? how will you write about tech while disconnected?)

futurepaul34 karma

I'm going offline to see what it's like! Since my whole teenage and adult life has been on the internet, I don't have any perspective on how the internet impacts me personally and creatively (it's obviously been a boon for me professionally).

As for writing about tech, I have to figure out how to do research. A lot of my writing will probably be about my no-internet adventures. I'll submit stories on thumb drives... sneakernet!

icystorm10 karma

Good luck, Paul. I don't know how you'll manage this while working at The Verge, but more power to you if you can.

How are you going to share your Paper drawings without the Internet?

futurepaul46 karma

Screencap them on my iPad, sync them to my computer, then print them out at Kinkos, then mail them to people.

darkbob877 karma

Since email will be out of the question, which is your preferred method of long distance communication? Snail mail? Fax? Telegrams? Carrier pigeons?

futurepaul16 karma

Snail mail. Although I really want to see if anybody still operates telegraphs.

Other things: CB radio, dead drops, invisible ink to be revealed by lemon juice.