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<nettime> Observer > Jake Davis > My life after Anonymous

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My life after Anonymous: 'I feel more fulfilled without the internet'

One of the key figures of the '50 days of Lulz' is now on
conditional bail -- and barred from going online. Here, he
describes how he feels serene, and recharged

Jake Davis
The Observer
Saturday 8 September 2012

The last time I was allowed to access the internet was
several moments before the police came through my door in
the Shetland Isles, over a year ago. During the past 12
months I have pleaded guilty to computer misuse under the
banners of "Internet Feds", "Anonymous" and "LulzSec". One
of my co-defendants and I have also been indicted with the
same charge in the United States, where we may possibly be
extradited, and if found guilty I could face several decades
in an American prison. Now I am on conditional bail and have
to wear an electronic tag around my ankle. I'm forbidden
from accessing the internet.

I'm often asked: what is life like without the net? It seems
strange that humans have evolved and adapted for thousands
of years without this simple connectivity, and now we in
modern society struggle to comprehend existence without it.
In a word, life is serene. I now find myself reading
newspapers as though they weren't ancient scrolls; entering
real shops with real money in order to buy real products,
and not wishing to Photoshop a cosmic being of unspeakable
horror into every possible social situation. Nothing needs
to be captioned or made into an elaborate joke to impress a
citizenry whose every emotion is represented by a sequence
of keystrokes.

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

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.

A miracle cure or some kind of therapeutic brilliance are
not something I could give, but I can confidently say that a
permanent lack of internet has made me a more fulfilled
individual. And as one of many kids glued to their screens
every day, I would never before have imagined myself even
thinking those words. Before, the idea of no internet was
inconceivable, but now -- not to sound as though it's some
kind of childish and predictable revelation spawned as a
result of going cold turkey -- I look back on the
transcripts of my online chats (produced as legal evidence
in my case, in great numbers) and wonder what all the fuss
was about.

It's not my place to speculate on whether or not the hacker
community should stop taking itself so seriously, but I
certainly became entangled within it and had forgotten how
easy it was simply to close a laptop lid.

I hope, then, that others in a similar situation may decide
to take a short break from the web (perhaps just for a week)
and see if similar effects are found. It can't hurt to try.

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