A big little thing called Digital Fatigue: Backstory

A series exploring whats it's like growing up in a digital world. ADSL, LAN Partys & ultimately ignoring...

A big little thing called Digital Fatigue: Backstory

Nelson, arguably the most outdoorsy hotspot in New Zealand.

You can do anything ending in “ing” within an hours drive. Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Tramping, Skiing, the list keeps growing. My parents did all that. I stayed at home with the dog.

But lucky for me, I was living in the early 2000s. Growing tired of Nintendo 64, the family got a computer with a dial-up modem. After a trip to Noel Leeming's for Xtra’s “Internet Starter Pack”, the line was engaged. Surfing the World Wide Web was a go!

A fantastic Xtra ad from the early 2000's.

Then one day, this magical box arrived in the mail. It was a D-LINK 504T. It was like Christmas came early. Paired with Unlimited ADSL, downloads changed from ‘1 day remaining’ to an hour or so.

We played online games like Counter-Strike & Battlefield. Endless hours were spent on MSN Messenger, The Sims and making custom skins for our Bebo accounts. Did I mention Limewire?

Everyone wanted to be connected.
Everyone wanted to impress.
Everyone wanted a Nokia.

When offline, I’d be out filming mates doing Jackass-type shenanigans, skateboarding and downhill mountain biking. Presumably, all a teen could do in Nelson.

Oh, and ponder how a microwave works if the door was open...

I was in the AV club at Nelson College. Camera, lighting, audio? I was the guy. Most teachers didn’t know about all this technology; it soon involved me wagging class to help them out.


I eventually dropped out of college at the end of 2007. Spending an extra two years for the much-hyped “university entrance” wasn’t for me. I was no academic by any count.

That year I did ‘gateway program’, spending one day a week at the regional TV station. Broadcast media was for me. I spent 2008 doing an arts & media course at the local polytech.

While my dad was organising adventure/multisport events, I was organising events of my own. “The Nelson Lan”, it was called.  The only party I was interested in was a LAN party.

What started in my parent’s garage grew into a regular gathering of 25+ people with custom-built desktops driven to a rented community hall. We would game for 2-3 days straight, probably peeking from all the energy drinks, junk food & ‘donated’ booze. I’m lucky to do an overnighter these days!

Extremely frustrated with the arts & media course that had a focus on painting “art”. I clocked out. It was time to fly. LAN partys no more. Destination: Auckland.

Auckland (photo by unsplash)

You know it’s funny what’s happening to us. Our lives have become digital. Our friends, now virtual. And everything you could ever wanna know is just a click away.

Experiencing the world through endless second-hand information isn’t enough. If we want authenticity, we have to initiate it.

We will never know our full potential unless we push ourselves to find it.
It’s this self-discovery that inevitably takes us to the wildest places on earth.

- Travis Rice
The Art Of Flight

I came across this quote in late 2011 while watching the fantastic snowboarding documentary; The Art Of Flight. - Watch it for free on Red Bull TV

It’s been ten years since I first heard that. Did I consider those wise words? Nope. Any endeavour was as good as a new year’s resolution. It was the hint that flew over my head.

I’ve always had massive respect for the outdoors, adventure and travel. I loved camping, tramping, clicking around Google Earth. From a young age, I’m sure deep down I wanted to be surrounded by it 24/7.

Once in a blue moon, I’d find aspiration to visit a doc hut, some 3 hours up a valley with no reception. Every time I would come back feeling fantastic, energised and on track. Excited for the next trip.

West Matukituki Valley in the rain. - Mt Aspiring National Park.

Then I’d get back home, sit down at my computer, and get right back into it. Notifications were aplenty. I had missed out on lots in the eyes of social media. In my mind, I agreed. My line of work probably didn’t help either.  I’ll get into that in my next post.

For more than a decade, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I learned to cope with what I can only describe as a constant weight hanging over me, a burden, a bizarre type of depression maybe?

Whatever it was, I assumed it was just a stock-standard part of life. I got on with it. It turns out I was experiencing some incredibly f#@ked up form of digital fatigue.

This is the first post in a series to come.

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I can't wait to break down my experiences & share them with you!