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Why I Walk 30 Minutes To Be Online

I’m still living in a tent, on an island in Norway. I’m still without electricity and without access to the Internet (other than via my iPhone). It’s been sunny, but today, it’s raining. And, I have realized that being offline 99% of the time for close to two weeks has been an interesting experience.

Now, walking along the beach, alone, looking at the rain, and listening to the waves, my mind drifts away.

It’s raining. I’m walking. I spot a church from a distance. I stop. No. It’s not a church, just a very old building that used to be white.

I’m standing in the rain, feeling cold, and looking at the sky. I’m not waiting for the sun, I’m just realizing that I have to adopt to nature. So, I close my eyes, and it’s like I can feel the wind grabbing me, lifting me up, and taking me to someplace else. I can still feel the raindrops touching my face, one by one, but it’s now dark. I am surrounded by complete darkness.

I can’t hear any sound. I can’t see anything at all. I feel like I am locked inside an empty room.

I try my best to not make a sound. I am just standing completely still. I don’t want anybody to notice me. But, I have the feeling that somebody can see me, and that they can hear me if I move. They are watching me, but I am surrounded by complete darkness and I can’t see them.

I feel that I am surrounded, but at the same time, I feel that I am all alone. Then, listening, I can hear voices from a distance. Two people talking, then three, four people, they are all talking. They are talking about me. I can’t hear my name, but I understand what they are saying. They are whispering.

“Where is he?”
“Who?”
“What’s his name again?”
“Who?”

I open my eyes. And I am back, at the beach, with a fantastic view overlooking the ocean. The seagulls have become my friends, and the raindrops feels like the best massage this world can offer against my skin.

Online Relationships are Different

There’s a reason why I was surrounded by complete darkness, and there’s a reason I heard people talking.

We have many benefits working online, and it’s like our business is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week all year long. We don’t have any doors, and if we did, it’s like they never closes. But, online business is still about relationships and building trust among people. And, it’s about being there for our friends, and being there for our customers.

I have thought a lot about being away, offline, for the past two weeks. I don’t have a business online, and people don’t rely on me being online all the time. But, at the same time, it’s like I should be online, at least for a few minutes every single day.

I believe that online relationships can be even better and stronger than offline relationships, especially after listening to Gary Vaynerchuck at a marketing conference. But, I am also asking myself if online relationships can last as long as offline relationships if we don’t invest a lot of time and effort.

Many people don’t subscribe to a website via RSS, or via email, and many people don’t leave comments, but we’ve still created a relationship through my writing. When no words get published in weeks, what will happen to our relationship?

Will it be like when I’m out walking and I meet an old friend, we just nod to each other and keep walking, or will we both smile from a distance, then stop and start talking, like we never were apart?

How Long is Too Long?

I still remember a few fantastic bloggers that I have stopped following. I can’t remember their names anymore. And I have no idea what they’re doing now. They stopped publishing. That’s what happened.

A blog is like a business, no matter if we’re earning money from it or not. We need to continue to add value, and we need to be personal.

When I ask, how long is too long, I’m thinking about a vacation away from it all. I’m living in a tent, but still, I’m at the public library once a week to publish a blog post and to continue “talk” with my friends online. But, if I didn’t do this, how long could I be completely offline, before you stopped caring, before you stopped thinking about me?

It depends. That’s my answer. We create strong relationships to some, and being offline for two weeks won’t do any harm. I don’t believe four or five weeks offline will make any difference either, but that’s for the strong relationships. Most of the relationships I have created online are weak, and I believe that four weeks or more offline can actually do a lot of harm. I have no experience or statistics showing me any evidence to support this claim, but it’s just a feeling.

Your turn

I would love to get your thoughts on this. A lot of people told me that when they’re on vacation, they’re on vacation and they are not writing at all. But, I have a feeling that when they say vacation, they’re talking about 1 week or maybe 2 weeks.

What do you think? How long could you stay completely offline? Remember, you’re not on Twitter, you’re not on Facebook, and you’re not answering email or anything. You’re just relaxing away from the computer.

So, how long can you stay offline without it hurting your “business”?



34 responses to “Why I Walk 30 Minutes To Be Online”

  1. paul wolfe says:

    Jens

    For One Spoon I could probably get away with being away for two weeks without too many problems – I’d auto-schedule a couple of posts. Triberr would do some of my tweeting….it would be cool.

    Much longer though would be harder.

    My bass site though can’t be left for more than a couple of days. It’s something that I need to work on – I somehow need to find someone who can answer emails for me when I’m away and deal with subscribers and some of the issues that crop up.

    Paul

    • jens says:

      Hi Paul,

      It’s interesting to see how life has evolved, when we can’t seem to be offline for more than a week at a time. I remember when I was at high school, and we didn’t have mobile phones and the only ones that were using Internet, was the teachers (and just a few of them) 🙂

      I haven’t been to your bass site. What’s the URL? I’d love to read what you’re writing about.

      Thanks a lot for your comment.

      Jens

  2. Adrienne says:

    I’m one of those in the past that would be offline completely while I’m on vacation for a week or two. But now that my business is online, I probably wouldn’t be able to get away with it that long now.

    Like Paul, I would schedule posts ahead of time and Triberr will do the tweeting as well. I’m also sure if I let some of my readers know I’d be away they would help me. But I would definitely have to have a laptop with me and get online I would think at least every other day.

    But I love what I do so it’s not like work to me. It’s not like I’m complaining that I have “work” to do like I would if I had an 8 to 5 job.

    Just glad you are enjoying yourself and are able to get online when you can. We would miss hearing from you but we wouldn’t abandon you Jens.

    Glad you are having a great time.

    Adrienne

    • jens says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      That’s the same with me. Four years ago, when I started living in a tent for the summer, I didn’t use my mobile phone, I wasn’t online for five weeks. Now, that I’m more active, and sort of have a business online, I feel that I have to be online at least once a week.

      It’s not something I’m forced to do, and I do it because I really enjoy it. Like you’re saying this type of “work” is just fun 🙂

      Jens

  3. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jens, I completely agree with Adrienne. I have an online friendship with a woman I have known for almost 10 years just online. Sometimes I don’t hear from her for a year, sometimes I hear from her every day. She followed me to England and back. Some friendships didn’t make the trip.

    One of my best friends I met online when she was living in Hawaii and I was living in New Jersey. We have moved quite a few times between the two of us, but we are as close as ever!

    It takes a lot for me to give up on a friendship. It happens but I don’t give up easily!

    Don’t worry, we’ll all be here when you get back. But with you writing such poetic prose, perhaps being away is what you’ll choose when you become a famous novelist!

    I am pondering this question too. I will be “off the grid” for 10 days in August. I am going to re-publish some of my posts from the early days (February/March) before anyone discovered my blog.

    Seriously, Jens, your writing is always great but this post is amazing. When you get back, please re-read this post and see the artistry with which this was crafted.

    Thank you for sharing your incredible talent with us! 🙂

    • jens says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      That’s the same with me, I have had several online relationships with people I have known for a few years. But, some friendships are not there anymore, well, I guess until one of us contacts the other 🙂

      It’s going to be interesting to talk to you in August after you’ve been off the grid for 10 days. If you’re like me, you’re going to have a hard time staying completely offline 🙂

      Thanks a lot for all your inspiration.

      Jens

  4. Dan says:

    I think the power of online relationships is that you can get a sense of the inter-relatedness of everyone. If you view it in the right way, it can be humbling to realise you are not the only person in the world who is busying themselves with things.

    The internet is simply a tool – if you had a hammer for example, you’d tell it what to hit, not the other way around. It’s too easy to be tied to your virtual world, forgetting that the wind, rain, sea, sand, sun, trees, family and friends whom you can physically be with, are much more important.

    Having said all that, I’d love to think I could spend a few weeks “off the grid” (thanks Carolyn!), but the reality is I’d probably do something or other if it was much longer than a week.

    • jens says:

      Hi Dan,

      Absolutely. Internet is simply a tool, but it seems that we use it in a different way. Some people I talk to use it only to find information, and to push information (advertise), others use it to “talk” to people and create long lasting relationships.

      Four years ago, when I started living in a tent for the summer (5 weeks). I didn’t use a mobile phone, and I didn’t go online for the 5 weeks. Now, it’s completely impossible to last for more than a week. That’s not because I have to, but because I really enjoy being online and creating content and “talk” with people.

      Thanks a lot for the awesome comment Dan.

      Jens

  5. john Falchetto says:

    Hi Jens,
    I have never taken an extended break from my online presence. Ican spend weekends without going online but that’s about it.

    I am hooked and I admit it. Similarly I am not ready to see how far I can go until it hurts my business.

    Your holiday sounds amazing where are you staying? Which island?

    • jens says:

      Hi John,

      It’s great to be hooked, isn’t it? 🙂 I know the feeling. And I would absolutely be even more hooked if I had an online business. Right now, this online adventure is more or less just a hobby for me… although I’m starting to feel that something is about to happen.

      The island where I am staying is in Norway, it’s called “Church Island” when I translate it to English. It’s a national park, where we’re only allowed to use tents in order to preserve the nature. It’s fantastic.

      I have thought a lot about going to France. I’ve never been there, and from what I’ve read and watched on TV, it looks amazing.

      Jens

  6. Rodney C. Davis says:

    It all depends on why people start blogging I guess. If its primarily for business, and they don’t have much staying power, lack of activity will make them lose interest. I think the more successful bloggers, even when they have business goals for their blogs, also have such a passion for what they are blogging about that they would keep on doing it for free, and for fun. If that’s the case, vacations are to get away from the REST of it all so you can do more and writing.

    • jens says:

      Hi Rodney,

      That’s true. I have visited several blogs lately that’s not been updated for weeks, and that’s mainly because the authors are on vacation. Most of them have written a blog post about their vacation plans and their posting schedules. And that’s great.

      But, I just can’t stay away, since I just love to write and keep in contact with people. On the other hand, 30 minutes to walk, by the beach, to a public library isn’t that bad either 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment.

      Jens

  7. Stuart says:

    Jens, I commend you for going for that long in a tent, without electricity. Some people today would freeze in terror at the thought of going without electricity for any period of time, but you prove it can be done.

    As for my blog, you’re right – blogging really is a 24 hour business. Especially as I’m in England, away from the ‘main base’ of the USA, the tme zones mean I can get many e-mails during my sleep. I can wake up with 30+ e-mails, all from during my sleep. The internet never sleeps 😉

    • jens says:

      Hi Stuart,

      Thanks a lot. I’m having a fantastic time living in a tent. The electricity is no problem at all, since we have a fridge and a heater that runs on gas. And, we have lights that are powered by the sun 🙂

      … and I also just received new batteries to my iPhone that will be charged by solar power. So, I guess I’m in heaven.

      I am getting way behind when it comes to email. I also get 30+ email every single day, especially during the time when I’m sleeping. Now, I only check email once a week, and that’s a lot of work (several hundred emails).

      Hope you’re having a great summer.

      Jens

  8. Bill Dorman says:

    Dude, if you are going to be standing in the rain in the pitch dark like a statue scaring the other people on the beach it might take me only one day to be gone.

    I hear what you are saying and wonder the same thing myself. You spend the time trying to gain momentum and develop relationships, but if you miss one post do 1/2 of your people drop off? Who knows…

    I think it varies, some relationships will be deeper than others. Also, I feel if you did it once you can jump back in and do it again. This is very fluid and so enjoy the relationships while they are there, hopefully enough of them have some depth.

    I’m still envious of your vacation. I know it’s great with your family, but I wonder what it would be like doing this solo? Would it give you time to be contemplative or would it drive you crazy?

    Good to see you buddy.

    • jens says:

      Hey Bill,

      It’s a good thing nobody sees me when I’m at the beach doing all the thinking 🙂

      Online relationships are interesting, and I’m like you, I am happy as long as I have my friends, when they’re gone, I’ll find new ones. So far, it seems to me that it’s fairly easy to see how’s all in, and who you can count on for help. And, I guess being on vacation will show me who’s still there when I get back.

      I’m glad that I’m with my family. I would go crazy being all alone for more than a week 🙂

      Thanks as always for your brilliant comment.

      Jens

  9. Sam says:

    I guess I’m lucky in that my online businesses are more based upon static content and organic traffic from search engines. i do check in daily but I doubt if anything would go wrong if I was even to leave them alone for a couple of months.

    In fact that would be cool – I wouldn’t even need to cash the cheques because Adsense, Amazon et al all pay direct into my bank.

    But then what would I do with my time …. I’d need to find a hobby!

    • jens says:

      Hi sam,

      That’s interesting. How do you build up such an affiliate business? I have just finished reading Steve Scott’s awesome affiliate course, and will start to implement that tactics after my vacation.

      Do you use email marketing?

      Jens

  10. Eddie Gear says:

    You rock Jens. I am not sure if I can be without the Internet. I’ve been so used to working on the web that I can be without it. Ufff, You must have some determination to stay away from the internet.

    • jens says:

      Hi Eddie,

      Me too. I thought I would have a big issue with being on vacation like this, but since I can walk to the public library (and a coffee shop) only 30 minutes away whenever I feel like it, I am having a fantastic time. I’m not sure how I would feel if I was going for a 5 week vacation without any type of online activity, that would probably drive me crazy 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment. And I hope you’re having a brilliant summer.

  11. Daniel says:

    It is hard to go offline for 1 or 2 weeks without hurting my business. Before I can take a 1 to 2 weeks break, I should plan ahead and finish as much work as I can or make arrangements until it is okay to leave it behind. This is actually a hard question since I never taught about it, but I see myself not enjoying especially if my mind keeps thinking about the work waiting for me when I come back.

    • jens says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Absolutely. It’s very important to plan ahead. I thought about planning my blog posts, and put them into a schedule so that they would be published automatically. But, I wanted to write about what I was doing on the vacation, instead of just regular marketing posts.

      The biggest issue with being away, is email. I get hundreds of emails in a week, and I have been checking email just about once a week, and it’s almost impossible to keep up with them all.

      But, my mind has been on vacation, and being close to nature, and not blogging 🙂

      Jens

  12. era says:

    How long can i stay offline? Hmmm, that’s a very simple question but i can hardly answer it… let’s see… maybe i can go offline for weeks? i have tried this when something went wrong with my internet and i just had to wait for the repairman to fix it… the problem was it took them a long time for them to work on it that’s why i was stuck in the house with no news about the cyber world.

    • jens says:

      Hi Era,

      I know how you felt. When I got my internet connection fixed a few years ago, it was so hard to wait… I had to walk to the public library or be at work.

      Being offline is no problem if we just plan, and we’re not waiting for a problem to be fixed. At least that’s my experience 🙂

      Jens

  13. marvic says:

    A week with out internet and computer really make me sick. Since I’m dependent into it. Your right being offline is no problem if we just have a plan. But there are times that your plan doesn’t work the way it is.

    • jens says:

      Hi Marvic,

      That’s probably why I can’t be 100% offline for the entire time that I’m on vacation. But, most of the time it works great, and my plan is to write when I’m offline, and only do the most important things when I’m online.

      What do you spend time on online, mostly business, or pleasure, or both?

      Thanks a lot for your comment.

      Jens

  14. Xris Luella says:

    Well you can always get an assistant to check your site.. and once you get a reliable assistant you can rest your mind on a vacation but you need something or someone to take you off your online life.

  15. Warren says:

    Hey Jens, I get to take a break here in a couple of days, as my girl and I are heading out of town for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t convince her on the tent (trust me, I tried) 🙂 But it will still be nice to get away for a bit, and enjoy the beaches, and the hot springs in the Okanagan.

    As per your last comment about an assistant and what they cost, for me it’s about $2000.00 a month And once my business can afford it, It will be the first thing I do! 🙂

    • jens says:

      Hey Warren,

      Didn’t she agree to sleep in a tent? That’s too bad 🙂

      Where are you going, I’m not familiar with that place?

      I would definitively get an assistant if I could afford it, but I’m not sure if I ever will 🙂

      Talk to you soon.

      Jens

  16. Brain says:

    Blogger must stay on blog at least 30 minutes everyday because it makes online reputation of blogger. These are good example that blog is not like facebook or twitter which don’t require to use daily. Thanks for your information.

  17. There’s another good reason to post blogs while on holiday; that’s when your mind has space to free-wheel and you get your best ideas.

  18. Yeremi Akpan says:

    I volunteered to go some were off the charts for a couple of weeks at the end of this month to take part in an educational campaign as part of my efforts to ‘cure’ myself of the internet.

    For two weeks, I will be disconnected. When I say disconnected, I mean it in every sense of the word. From what I hear, phone calls will not even be possible unless one gets up a tree situated atop a hill.

    I am excited and scared of the prospect at the same time. But then, why should I be? My goal in starting an online business was to be free, but sometimes I feel enslaved to my laptop. 🙁

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