Online austerity

Posted 2018-11-18. Last updated 2022-02-18.

Update: This reflected my thoughts at the time and although many parts are still relevant, I think I was a bit misguided. The Web can certainly still be enjoyed, but we need to be very careful with what we consume and how much. Social media and porn are still to be avoided like the plague, but they're no reason to completely disconnect. The Web holds many treasures, let us find them while we still can.


I'm tired of the Internet.

If you spend too much time online, repent! Think about all the time you waste on social media, reading pointless articles online, browsing through forums and imageboards, and watching propaganda videos on Youtube. Woke people still dare to shit on TV for offering nothing but trashy content, but they're the same people staring at their smartphones like idiots all day looking at the latest memes on Twitter or Instagram... The irony is lost on everyone. Just as television consumed a generation, the future is endangered by reckless and obsessive use of the net.

And the problem is not ONLY social media. The problem is the avid consumption of online content in general, without minding the time. Beyond the realm of social media, the Internet is wonderful and scary. You can find petabytes of information, but it's rife with distraction and uselessness. For example, there are people who can spend entire afternoons on Wikipedia (I can be one of those people if I'm not cautious) and jump from article to article learning tiny bits of trivia yet never focusing their attention. For every useful math video you find on Youtube, there are a million stupid little other videos to grab your attention and literally take your life away. These are but two examples that can be inductively applied to other methods of wasting your time online: consider your own experiences.

The Internet can be so useful if used wisely, with focus, and in moderation.

However, I realised (very late) that out of my 2X years of life, I must have spent at least a third of them online, that is, in front of the goddamn computer doing absolutely fucking nothing, and that's FUCKED UP. I know I'm not alone in my predicament. I know there are people, a lot of them younger than me, that have given a sizable portion of their lives to the Machine, and that's FUCKED UP. I'm not sure if I can convince other people that this is as FUCKED UP as I think it is, so how am I planning to save myself and anyone willing to listen?

In the following part of the present article I'll outline my strange plan of salvation. The first step is to notice there's something wrong, the second to prepare mentally to a life of online austerity.

Hoarding content

Although the title mentions "austerity," note carefully that it also says "online." The issue is that you spend too much time online with an endless supply of information and distractions you can't possibly manage. However, "online austerity" doesn't mean you can't download a fuckton of data for offline use, eh? Use your drives! Spend an extra bit of your time online downloading everything related to your job, studies, or hobbies to any drives you may have. Here's what I've done.

Shortly before I left imageboards for good I encountered this torrent in my search for language resources. It contains all kinds of books from all kinds of areas of knowledge... although some might be a little weird or risky. There's stuff from artbooks to history books, from conspiracy to computers, and from weaponry and survival to meditation and tarot. You may not have a use for it all, of course, but it may come in handy when you unplug yourself... who knows?

I can't possibly insist enough to get everything you can think about from Library Genesis. If you can afford it (disk space-wise), download the ENTIRE site (you can seriously do it). I've gotten a lot of language and math books from there.

Kiwix: a godsend. Download full copies of Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Project Gutenberg, and your favourite Stack Exchange sites directly to your drives for offline use. If you can figure it out, do yourself a favour and set up kiwix-serve. With this you'll even be ready for a massive Internet outage!

You don't need porn, so keep that shit away.

And don't forget that libraries exist! Borrow as many books as allowed and then buy any important ones whenever you have the chance.

Block everything

When you're done downloading absolutely fucking everything you really need, uninstall any browsers you might have installed except for one. Download some master hosts file from Github with entries for ads, porn, and social media. Merge it with the hosts file in your system and say goodbye to some of the most dangerous sites. Keep yourself from removing entries.

If you use Firefox or one of its forks like a reasonable person, get a content blocker like Leechblock, add *.* to your block set, and protect the extension with a lengthy randomly-generated password. You should then manually whitelists any sites that you REALLY need, by prefixing them with a plus sign. I, for example, whitelisted sites like Libgen, Wikipedia, Stack Exchange, all sites linked to my institution, a couple more I use to download books and manga, and a few hobby related sites that host resources and stuff. Don't whitelist any search engines.

Get a hobby that doesn't require the use of the Internet

Ideally, you should get a hobby that doesn't require the use of computers at all. Sorry, gamers.

This part is self-explanatory. Think about the things you like and about the time you spend online, then go and use that time to perfect your craft! It's not too late.

Grab an instrument and play it, or some paper and write. Compose something. Draw. Read a book. Practise a language. Move your body, exercise, ride a bike or go for a walk. Go exploring. Do math. Learn to build and repair stuff. Read the manuals and actually learn to use your computer. Talk to your family. Cook. Play card games or DnD. Learn something new and unique. Keep a journal. Take care of your pet. Listen to music and appreciate it. Meditate and engage in introspection.

Conquer yourself. It's time to stop wasting time. It's time to go offline.