Today I am coining (as far as I am currently aware) a new term. "The Sheeplenet".
Sheeplenet: A term referring to Google, FaceBook, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter
Instagram (still facebook), Snapchat, Youtube (still Google), Etc.
That most people are referring to when they use the term Internet.
To be clear, the Sheeplenet is not, nor has it ever been "The Internet". The Internet is the collection of interconnected autonomous networks that people use via their ISP to talk to those things.
I am coining the term mostly for personal use but mainly to disambiguate all those services from "The Internet". I'm all over the Internet. I use it every day. I'm just not on the Sheeplenet.
People are often confused when I tell them, "I'm not on service A", "No I'm not on service B or C eiither.". This confusion leads to questions like, "Aren't you on the Internet?". Which is of course technically very, very, incorrect. That is akin to asking someone, "Don't you drive?" just because they never go to your favourite mall or coffee shop.
I use the "Sheeple" part, Not disparagingly but rather to refer to the unconsidered way that the vast majority of people end up, not only on these services, but also thinking that they are the "Internet".
Because of this incorrect mindset (And it is a mindset that the companies in question work hard to foster in the people that spend time there) people stop wondering what other wonderful things the Internet can do. What else is out there? What strange and wonderful corners are there? How else can the fact that I, You, almost anyone, can talk to every other computer on the planet be put to amazing uses?
It is the loss of the understanding that a service that you can access via the Internet is not "The Internet". It is a misconception that hides the wonder, potential, and freedom of the Internet from those using said services. I can talk to almost anyone on the planet with the Internet without the need for any of the Sheeplenet. Doing so is trivially easy. It's not because I'm an uber techie, or have some special ability that others lack. The only special ability I have is seeing the open roads of the Internet as exactly that. Roads that take me where I want to go. Without having to use any service that is gonna steal my data, my privacy, and my individuality in the process.
So if you're looking for Freemor.. I'm, "out there, traveling the open highways of the Internet...." And I am definitely not alone out there. There are many other people traveling those roads instead of sitting in a Mall and thinking it is the totality of this thing called the Internet.
Come on out and join us. Feel the freedom of the digital highway as you explore the wonder that truely is "The Internet".
So, I came to the realization that I was in a broken relationship. One in which
my attention was often demanded for petty reasons. A relationship where
interacting with the other party failed to fill any deep or meaningful need
despite a promise that it would be more fulfilling.
The other party was my smartphone. So it was time for a divorce.
Put in less whimsical terms I recently and increasingly realized I was spending
far too much time on my device. I'd find myself reaching for it in any idle
moment, as many do. And I never left such events feeling rewarded or fulfilled.
I think that part of what has cause this increased awareness is that in all my
other computing I work in an almost completely text centric environment.
Bowing to the need for the occasional use of a GUI based browser is about the
only non-text interactions I have. But even with browsing most of what I do is
done with a text only browser.
Also all my other computing devices are not always on/always connected
This disparity between my normal computing devices and my smartphone I think
really highlighted the differences. A growing frustration with the direction
that Android is going is also in the mix. As many may know I De-Googled my life
a while back and have been very happy for it. So my smartphone runs a Google
free version of AOSP. With only apps from F-droid on it. So I'm heading in a
more free (as in freedom) direction and every new version of Android that comes
out does more and more to lock Android and to lock it to Google.
One of the first thing I noticed is that when working in a non-GUI environment
I was more focused, more productive, and more task oriented. Where as on
the phone everything felt muddled, unfocused and often meaningless.
I also do not like the treacherous nature of smartphones. As anyone who reads
my blog will know privacy is a huge issue for me and smartphones simply leak
far too much personal information.. So I had already been mulling what I would
do when it was time to replace my current device. I did not want to get another
So with all this going on and me recently building myself a small mobile
computing device.. Much more of a MID then a smartphone and Linux based not
Android based. I decided it was time to start saying good-bye to my smartphone.
Now there were some minor considerations that might have meant that I would have
to keep the phone. At least for a while. But I wanted to minimize my use of it.
The first thing I did was transfer as much of the non-communication things I
did on it over to my new MID (BTW also text centric), and even a few of the
communication functions like Instant messaging.
That went well and I felt no real pain in doing so. Mostly what it did is give
that overly attached part of me a mental safety net. "OK, phew, I still have
all that, just on the other device"
The next step was turning off all non-critical notifications. If it wasn't
something that absolutely required my immediate attention off went the
notification. This step was amazingly successful. I quickly stopped looking at
my phone all the time. Even the amount of checking it in the idle times
dropped. I even started to lose the desire to keep it with me all the time.
After that came A big one. Pull every attention sucking, non-critical
communication thing off the phone. All social media things gone from the phone.
All games, gone. All those random interesting but ultimately time wasting
apps, gone. Calendar, gone (have it on my MID now). Even the browser,
Youtube player, etc.. gone.
This sounds rather radical but it was necessary if I was to say good-bye to my
phone.. All that was left were things that deal directly with real time
communications, and privacy enhancements. So basically phone, SMS (encrypted),
GPS navigation, and contacts. Plus a few enhancements like firewall, ConnectBot
And. I didn't go nuts.. In fact my routines changed in pleasant ways. I
no longer reached for the phone as soon as I woke up. No reason to. It often lay
forgotten until I was about to head out for the day. I still check my social
media but it is a much more intentional type of interaction which happens on my
laptop while having my morning coffee, and ends once I'm caught up. Same with
After another purge further stripping the phone down to nothing but basic phone
features, and turning off WiFi, which went far better then I thought it would. I
was ready to take the plunge. I ordered a $70 feature phone to replace my smart
The phone arrived quickly and despite myself and others being concerned that I
would end up ultimately being unhappy with the phone, quite the opposite has
happened. Other then some initial pain learning how to TXT with T9 style input
again, life is fine.
Although I can no longer easily do encrypted SMS only a few people ever got on
board with that and most of what I send via SMS isn't anything that needs
encryption. I don't really care if the powers the be see me asking my wife if
we need bananas. For anything that requires encryption I can use the Instant
Messanger on my MID.
I am actually loving the flip phone. It is smaller, lighter, better on battery,
has a replaceable battery, feels and acts more phone like, and still is able to
play my music and podcasts through my Bluetooth headphones. I do not need more.
And best of all I got my life back. I'm no longer tied to a hugely expensive,
privacy sucking, attention sucking, thing that is doomed to the landfill because
the battery can not be replaced.
I even now turn the phone off when not in use. Imagine that. A life where I only
get bugged by the outside world when I chose to. A world where I control how and
when I talk to people or people talk to me. A world where I watch all the way
through a TV show (or several) without ever two screening. A world in which
when I'm with friend I'm with them not split between them and my annoying smart
I'd strongly suggest that others should try to follow in my path. Even if you
only got as far as pairing back what is on the phone and limiting notifications
to only the important ones I suspect you'd notice a large difference in your
life. I certainly did.