• Email Ate My Life

last modified November 19, 2019 by strypey


In late 2013, I decided I was tired of the way the internet seemed to be taking over my lived experience. I decided go on a "net fast" - no internet for one whole year - and I figured I might as well keep notes on the experience and share it with the world in the form of a book. I originally intended to start on Jan1, 2014, but after a few delays, my one year net fast started in May 2014, and finished in May 2015.

Before I began, I made a number of preparations, including writing extensive notes on my motivations, and some of the challenges I expected to face. During the net fast, I kept an incident notebook, jotting down quick notes on any situation in which I was accidentally exposed to the net, or felt socially pressured to use it. I also wrote longer essay fragments about the various insights that came up for me as the experience progressed, thinking that much of this material could become part of the book. Since I started using the net again, I've written more essay fragments about what that's been like.

The Book

'Email Ate My Life' will document my experience, in the form of a book with three parts:

  • Before: the first part will cover why I decided to do the net fast, the questions I wanted to explore, what I thought it might be like beforehand, and the preparations I made before I went offline on May 2. The notes which will make up the bulk of this section were written before
  • During: the second part will go through the experience itself, mostly in chronological order, exploring each of the challenges, realizations, and social issues that resulted as they came up.
  • After: the third part will discuss the experience in hindsight, and attempt to draw some conclusions about the place of the internet in our society, our culture, and our lives, and what we could do to keep that conscious, and under our control.


Various disruptions pushed this project onto the backburner for a few months after my net fast ended, including a serious bout of depression, and relocated to China. Now that we're settled in, I intend to get back into working on the book. This time, I'm looking at it as a summer project, with the goal of publishing by the end of 2021.

End of February, 2019: I intend to have all my paper drafts and notes typed up. Done!

End of June, 2021: I intend to have an overview and sample chapters ready to send off to potential publishing agents (and independent publishers)

End of July, 2021: I intend to have at least a rough draft of the whole book, although there may be gaps where I want to conduct interviews or research topics like the "digital divide" in more depth.

End of August, 2021: I intend to have a complete draft of the book, ready to be presented to an editor.

End of December, 2021: I intend to have the book released/ published