Christian Internet Ethic (i.e. how to be in the internet), Part 3

The internet is not the only distraction. People are the worst. I don’t know who I am kidding (myself) when I go to a coffeehouse, one where I know there are people I like, and sit down to “write.” I always end up talking to someone for hours about stuff and junk. It’s just not a good place to go. It makes no sense to go to a coffeehouse and write. Who does that? To be seen? The writer in the corner. They’re onto something…
The main point I’m trying to make is: I needed to get rid of the internet, because my desire to write is not strong enough to override my physiological repulsion from creation. I also needed to get rid of people, but that is an ongoing project.
How did I do this?
Since the beginning of this, I have been talking about place. And so I think it is very important to carve out a place where you can write. Don’t trick yourself and say, “Well, as soon as I get a place, then I can start writing.” The goal ought to always be writing. Writing should be enough, even when it isn’t. You can always go deeper. I can always go deeper.
But, if you can’t, you really need a place.
In my search for a place where I could write, I realized something life-changing: I needed a place without internet. Jonathan Franzen recently made a list of ten serious rules aspiring writers should abide by. #8 was: it’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection is writing good fiction. Stephen King still uses a typwriter.
As for me, I cut off internet at home. I don’t get internet at home. As I write this, I am sitting at home, internet-free, typing it into Evernote. I can’t check my emails, even if I wanted to. It’s delightful.
But, you ask, how do you expect to run a blog? Be up-to-date on emails?
The first is no problem at all. The second would be a problem, if I was an “important” person. Luckily, I’m not a chairman of any board.
Monday is my internet day. I have written out on a schedule (one I aim to cling to, but often fail at doing) what I am to do on Interneday. This is what I call Monday, at least for the summer. When the school year rolls around, I need to figure out what will be the new cadences of place, where I go and when. The rest of the week, I write every day. When Interneday comes upon me, I take a journey to the internet, go downtown to a coffeeshop, and then schedule all the posts for the respective days of the week. It really is quite easy. And I love this, because it offers my week a sort of purity that before it did not have. Before, my days would be odd mixes of activities. Now, I know what to expect and when before the week even starts. This is the benefit of a schedule, something I learned from monasticism. And who said monasticism didn’t apply to lay life?
Anyway, what I am working on now for myself is not only having an Interneday, but also coming to the internet with a to-do list. I don’t want to come to the coffeeshop I have discipled myself to (this sort of loyalty is valuable for a lot of reasons) and not have a place. I did that this week on Interneday and I was lost for six hours, researching internet outrage and public shaming. It was fascinating and I learned a lot, but I was quite exhausted by the informational gluttony. And I missed all the sunlight.
To be continued…


  • Really appreciate your recent posts! Thank you for writing them. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat down at my desk to write and ended up doing something online completely unrelated to what I was going to do. I found it very helpful when you talked about going online with a purpose. We do that with other things, like going outside to mow the lawn, so why not with internet? I look forward to reading more of your thoughts about this topic.


  • I think it was Brother Smith who saith “plan the work, work the plan” or something to that effect. Brilliant monk he.


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