Have you ever loved something you knew was bad for you?
This is how I feel about the internet. I just got out of a 3 year relationship, and am currently sitting in an empty apartment (well, empty of my things) getting ready to leave in the morning to move into a new town. I have experienced an unhealthy urge and addiction to the internet for nearly a year now. The internet provides me with so many beneficial things, communication, job opportunities, art opportunities, community, entertainment, knowledge, directions, and inspiration. However, while all those things are extremely valuable, it also offers me a world of distractions, games, endless videos, the false sense of being awake, access to information I don't need, and advertisements.
I am sure every one of you reading this post, has at some point been distracted by something on the internet that then takes hours away from your life. Or, at best, sidetracks you from what you were initially intending to do. When I have constant internet access I never have time to just sit and think because my mind immediately wants to check the internet again.
Gmail....any new messages? Facebook.....any new notifications? YouTube....any new subscribed videos?
When those three options are explored then there is a secondary ring of things to check, or else if I pressing matters in the real world (cooking food, cleaning, art projects, friends) then maybe I will just be done with the internet for a while. But as soon as I have a chance to take a deep breath, I race back to the computer to check those three sites again. Like an obsession.
I know I have a problem using the internet to distract myself from other emotions or problems. During the end of my deteriorating relationship with my girlfriend Kelsey, I would find myself turning to the internet more and more often. I do admit, if I wasn't turning to the internet, I would be turning to something else (video games, sports, books, movies) to distract me. The internet just happens to be so good at distracting me that it creeps into distracting me even when I want to be doing the things I want to do. For instance, I love to paint and draw. I often sit down to work on projects and find myself taking necessary breaks to check up on the internet. These breaks usually brood into long internet sessions with breaks to paint and draw. It is becoming a problem.
Why am I writing this blog right now? I'll tell you why. It is because I currently am sitting here without the internet. It is true. I can't do my routine check ups. Gmail....any new messages? Facebook.....any new notifications? YouTube....any new subscribed videos? I realize how quickly I become uneasy and concerned about not being connected to the internet and want desperately to check my gmail, facebook and youtube. I could be using this time to paint and draw and yet I am here writing a love letter to the internet instead. How I miss you dear internet, with your sweet html's and your beautiful links and sidebars. The thing is, this is why I do not own a cell phone. Because I am acutely aware of my ability to become easily enchanted by such technology. I have slowly allowed the internet to take a pretty serious grasp of my attention away from the rest of the real world and the things I love to do. This a sad and difficult thing to deal with.
What is the Solution?
With this painful but valuable time I have without the internet, the whole three days until I go to the library, I am going to come up with some solution options to help me fix my problem. For this, I need your help. I am going to make some suggestions and I want you to tell me if you have any better solutions or if you think my ideas will work. My new apartment will eventually have internet access... which is a relief, since I really do use it daily to communicate with job opportunities, art clients, art sales, friends and family. However, it is also a burden, especially if I fall into pattern of using the internet all day long. I need to give myself some rules and guidelines that I will not only follow but adhere to, in my daily life. I often tell myself things like, “alright I'll be on until 2am, and then I need to sleep,” or “alright I'll check my stuff and then finish this painting.” Needless to say I end up watching videos and playing games until long past my own deadline and regretting it later. My rules need to be firm, and I need a way to keep myself honest and respectful of my own usage of time.
NO INTERNET. This option would involve spending no time on the internet at home, and only using it for specific tasks by visiting the library or public spaces. I have tried and considered this option many times but I write three blogs on a regular basis and get a lot of art sales business based on posting new work of art all around the internet. Therefore, avoiding the internet at home would just hurt those things I need to do online. The times I have tried it leads me to spend countless hours at coffee shops and internet hot spots trying to suck up as much internet as possible.
ONLINE CURFEW. Having a set time to go on the internet, or a set time to not go on the internet. Closing down my computer completely, packing it up and putting it away from 5pm- 10pm, or after 8pm each day. The reason this has not worked for me yet is because given my varying work schedule I feel like I cannot set proper time periods and end up being too loose and flexible and ignoring any curfews. Is there a decent way to keep myself from breaking my own curfews?
COMPUER YES, BUT INTERNET NO. This is a solution which I have tried a few different times with some decent results. The idea is to give myself a set one or two hours per day to use the internet but then unplug the internet for the rest of the day. This allows me to download videos I want to watch, e-mails I need to respond to, images I need for references, and then when the cord is pulled I only have the most important things on my computer to work on/watch/ respond to. When I exhaust those things I then need to be spending my time doing all the things that I keep ignoring.
These are the three options that I have come up with and I feel there is probably a perfect solution somewhere in between. Again, I would love to hear how you keep yourself from over indulging on the internet. The best relationship I've ever had with the internet was when I did not have it at all, and only on days that I went in to work as a security guard would I then use the internet and consequently also get paid for it. It was the best possible scenario, because I had the internet a few days a week, but when I left work I was free from it. It did not follow me at home, and it did not keep me up at night (other things still kept me up at night, just not the internet). Maybe the solution is to find another job as a security guard with internet access.
Oh I Forgot About Those Things
Catherine, one of my friends I met in Unity, Maine asked me what my new years resolutions were this year, and I told her I had not even thought of it. Which was true. Then I began thinking about it, and there were a number of things I have been trying to resolve in my own life that would make PERFECT resolutions. I am happy to say I can include limiting my internet usage to the things on my resolution list this year. I will post my new year resolutions in a upcoming post.
Do you have a problem over using the internet?
What are the ways you try to limit your internet usage?