I Am an Internet Addict

This is an introduction to a topic I’ll probably write about in the future so follow this category if you want to keep updated (or subscribe via RSSor email). I’ll keep this post short and sweet since it’s actually quite ironic how I’m spending time on the internet right now talking about this! I just feel that putting it out there will give me the necessary pressure to follow through with my plans.

Perhaps my title depreciates what people with more severe levels of addiction go through. I mean absolutely no offence to those people. But I feel that if I carry on the way I am, I’m going to impact my life negatively. Internet addiction is a very serious condition for many people and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Many people are spending too much time on the web and it has already started showing its effects.

Any serious addiction includes the withdrawal to a comfort zone where things are easy but where real, tough but rewarding life is avoided. I have realised I need to make a big change in my life before things get to that level. And it’s probably come at a good time too since my final university exams are looming and I have a dissertation to write. This is the first step towards change: Admitting the problem.

What makes the internet hard to kick is that giving it up completely is not an option. The internet is a useful tool which is becoming more and more important in our lives. There has to be a limit though. Studies have shown that constant novelty from clicking links on the internet, especially by opening multiple tabs, can cause real addiction measurable in the brain. Here’s a clip which mentions this research among a TED discussion on internet porn addiction (I used the same clip recently in a post concerning my thoughts on porn).

I have decided that to overcome this problem of mine before it really gets serious, I need to enforce a well thought out change in structure to my day. Here’s a quick list of what I’ve thought about so far.

1. No casual internet browsing until serious work has been achieved

The morning is a particularly bad time to start casually browsing the internet. It being the first thing I do in my day is really quite sad. That anticipation that someone may have contacted me can wait. Most of these interactions don’t require the same immediate action like a mobile text often does so there’s really no rush to answering them.

2. For productive work, get out of the room I sleep and relax in

I would like to think I could force mind over matter and be productive in my room but it just hasn’t worked for me in the past. Maybe it’s just me but I have a completely different mental attitude depending on whether I’m in my room or in the library. The problem I have with working far from home is food. I either have to spend an unnecessary amount of money to keep myself content, which keeps me focused, or I have to prepare a packed lunch in advance which I never feel I have the time for (an example of a mental failure to assume responsibility). So an extra rule which will keep me productive while away from my bedroom is to start preparing packed lunches!

3. Casual Internet browsing to be limited to two constrained times of the day

As soon as I’ve published this post, I’m going to give myself only two hours a day of casual internet browsing; two hours where I don’t feel guilty about neglecting to do something more productive and fulfilling with my time. They will be divided into two and spent during my lunch and supper breaks. During the time that is freed up I’ll be more productive and able to take relaxing breaks from study. Let’s face it, staring at a computer screen while becoming over-stimulated by novel content is not the way to relax between studies. I might even make up the time to get back to the gym, something I love doing but have recently put off claiming that I have too much work on. In fact, I’ll make daily exercise part of my new routine too!

4. I’ve just started blogging, how does that fit in with my plans?

From now on my blogs are going to be developed by pen and paper in my free time. I’ll have a few articles in-the-making at the same time which I can slowly complete in my free-time. Once they are ready I’ll type and post them in my allowed casual browsing time. This might have the added bonus of increasing the quality of my writing and it’ll also mean that my time spent on the internet is more productive.

5. Read books published by respected authors

Some old-technologies will always be with us. I think it’s important not to neglect these in our relentless quest to advance as a species. Text-books and other pieces of literature were produced by experts with passion and determination and it is a shame that many have stopped considering good old fashioned books as research sources. With the time freed up by excessive use of the internet I want to re-establish my love for reading (I used to be such a book-worm as a child)

I’d love to hear your thoughts and any of your own experiences on the topic. Thank you for spending your time reading what I had to say!

12 thoughts on “I Am an Internet Addict

  1. Pingback: Unplug From Technology! — Health and WellbeingHealth and Wellbeing

  2. Good morning! Let me suggest a very straightforward approach to the issue. There are internet filtering programs such a http://www.wisechoice.net that will actually allow you to give yourself time limits. For example from midnight to 6am.(time for sleep).no access to the net. This can be password protected so that you do not have the password. If you are also having problems with certain kinds of content then you can block it such as porn, or gambling what ever….it is so cool that you can take control of the net rather than it have control over you!

  3. Hi Dean,

    Very nice post. Part of the reason some of us spend so much time online is because that spending is invisible. We’re a startup building a product called Nudge (http://skim.me/nudge) that makes spending time online visible to encourage you to waste less of it. Maybe give it a shot instead of trying to go cold turkey or using other brute force tactics to block yourself from going online. Love to hear what you think.



  4. Great post, with excellent content and advice.

    I do share both your experience and concern – ever since I started my blog I haven’t got much sleep either. Instead of sleeping at night I am lying awake working on a next post – often on more than one.
    To me it seems next to impossible to find a “cure” against it. It has become a new passion – which means I can only do it 100% or not at all.

    The funny thing is: my “addiction” is not related to the internet in general, but only to reading blogs and writing on mine. I recently started an account on Twitter, but I don’t spend much time there. There everyone sounds like tweeting their own monologues only, while I prefer real topics & real conversations with real people.

    I very much like your blog. You have lots to say and your voice is fresh, strong and genuine.

    • Thanks very much for that! I am brand new to blogging and brand new to writing anything longer than a facebook comment! Your comment is very encouraging 🙂

      I think any passion is actually fueled by taking breaks from it! Having a handful of passions somehow seems to improve the quality of them all.

      Have you tried, or do you ever prepare your content by pen and paper, away from the computer? I haven’t tried yet (far too busy programming for my university dissertation) but I imagine it would help me stay focused without the temptation to look elsewhere on the web for inspiration. Once I’ve explored the topic enough from my own perspective, I’d then be able to do efficient internet research to bind it all together.

      I think your blogging passion is great and it’s a productive thing to do so maybe it doesn’t fall under the category of ‘constant novelty’ so you might be alright with respects to the youtube clip above. However, not going to sleep can’t be good (I do it too, mostly until 2am but sometimes to 7am the next morning :/ )

      How long have you been blogging? (Sorry for the essay 🙂 )

      • These are very good points, too. And, oh, I love the length of your reply, too. 🙂

        Paper and pen? Bad for me, but by now I forgot how to use them (rolling eyes)

        Taking break is a good idea, I agree. Luckily sleeping problem isn’t always that bad. Am confused as to what you meant by “with respect to the yt clip – I didn’t watch the clip since it’s title is related to porn, and that is something I am unable (and unwilling) relate to in any sense.

        When did I start blogging? At the beginning of this year. You said you are brand new to blogging, but in fact you appear very experienced. : )

        • Thanks, only started earlier this month 🙂 …

          The youtube clip is anti-porn and since I’ve watched it I too am anti it! Even though the main discussion is the dangers of internet porn, they go into research explaining the actual root cause of porn addiction, ‘constant novelty’. They mention how constantly discovering new, exciting content on the internet can cause addiction (I only just started using Reddit, going to make sure I treat it with caution!)

  5. ex-internet addict here. for me, library-ing, keeping a diary, writing, sketching, reading a good book or a few magazines, having a long phone call with someone special, helping someone out, baking, listening to the radio, visiting family or going out and doing something exciting (hopefully no quaddies involved) are all better uses of my time !! that said I have made time to read your insightful and honest blog, keep up the good posts xx

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