Now that I’m about a week into my (second) internet detox-run this year, I’m truly beginning to appreciate how addicted I have been to the Internet. (And how ironic it is that my best medium for conveying this addiction to a larger audience is … the Internet.)
As noted elsewhere my goal is for 30 days to NOT view anything on the Internet which is not “vital” or related to my personal goals – such as: strengthening certain friendships, helping my webdesign business with concrete tasks, helping me with concrete problems about writing and publishing.
Not just reading about the latest version of WordPress because it ‘could be relevant down the line’ but because I have a specific site I need to protect against breaking from the update.
Not just reading about publishing ebooks because I might do so at a later time, but reading about a specific problem related to a specific task I am on right now, such as how to self-edit a manuscript.
That may already sound like I have widened the net (no pun intended) too much with regard to what I’m allowed to spend time on during my little self-imposed trial, but in reality it excludes quite a lot:
- reading random articles in Facebook-feed
- watching latest interest YouTube-videos
- reading or perusing any article that pops up and looks interesting while I search for something specific on Google
- reading any post in my favorite discussion forums or social media groups (such as Facebook groups) that looks interesting
- reading anything else that looks interesting on websites where I read a specific article about a specific problem
A few days ago, I found myself doing the dishes and then going back and forth to my email to see if anyone had written anything “vital” to me (a definition I’ve deliberately left open – but it’s to do with emergencies at work or in the family, mostly). Thus, I found myself checking email maybe 5 times during an hour to see if anything “vital” had come up which could … divert my attention, I suppose.
And yes, I’ve disconnected my smart phone from email and social media.
So it seems there is a constant craving in me for the mental ‘flow state’, if I may call it that, of just reading or watching something of varying degree of interest. Closely related to that I yearn for some form of attention, e.g. by way of emails or likes or putting up my opinion in a thread on Facebook about something that really doesn’t matter.
The last example is particularly powerful, because in previous years I have spent a lot – a LOT – of time on Internet discussions about topics where the only thing that mattered really was who got the last word. Nothing else changed. Especially not participants’ opinions.
I’m still drawn to those discussions, which pop up in for example my Facebook-feed all the time. It’s like the old joke with a man sitting at his computer and his wife calling to him from the bedroom:
Wife: “Honey – come to bed.”
Husband: “Not now – somebody is wrong on the Internet again.”
Well, the joke sure is on me. Because I find it almost impossible to keep up some kind of opening towards the Internet and regular communication, such as writing on this blog and checking email, and then staying away from all the distractions listed above.
Distractions which take a huge amount of time. And mental space.
Just yesterday we talked about it, Char and I, because she had seen someone in a Facebook-group who annoyed her. The person kept posting something annoying, and Char couldn’t get it out of her head and it crept into our conversation perhaps 5 times during the day. Well, it could have been me. It has been me.
So where does that time go? It goes nowhere. It just disappears. Several hours during the day all in all. And even more hours if you add the magnification effect of thinking about someone ‘annoying’ or whatever else caught your attention, long after you have shut the browser window, and maybe is trying to enjoy your lunch.
I’m trying to edit my short novel these days, because it is
- A very meaningful endeavor, personally – in the top 5
- Something which might bring me an extra income stream down the line and release me from selling my time for money
- A very good way of spending time when you are waiting for the birth of your son, but don’t want to absorbed in something too stressful or exhausting
Yet, I continually have to fight the urge to just … look at something else. Because it is there. Because it is easy. Because I am addicted.
To flowing away on reading about FBI director James Comey’s firing and wondering when President Trump will get fired by democracy, as did Nixon. Or political expediency. Whichever wins first. Because just reading about it and wishing sure will make a difference. At least to myself feeling good about feeling part of the community that feels Trump is an idiot.
To checking out the latest news on somebody’s angsting about Amazon ebook-royalties and feeling good about my plans that I will end up, at least, with a mailing-list of my own so as to not be dependent on big publishers’ whims. Yes, and not getting written anything commercially marketable myself all the time.
To checking the latest videos on Facebook about anything really. Anything … And thus forgetting everything else for some blessed moments. Or hours.
To checking my mailbox for the nth time because maybe somebody has written to me and I get some attention, which I haven’t gotten because I haven’t picked up, say, the phone and called someone in weeks. Asked how they were doing …
To … okay, you get the idea.
The piss filling up and warming my pants this cold spring sure feels nice and warm.
But fine. Awareness of a behavior you want to change is the first step to that change. Even if it is an awareness you don’t like. Especially if it is an awareness you don’t like. You just have to be brave enough to keep it and not run away from it, as you usually do, and feel how much you don’t like it.
That’s when you realize you must change.
So I continue my 30 trial. And maybe I will make it 60.