Is the Internet Addictive or is There Another Reason Why I Waste Time Online?

I’ve announced I’m leaving Facebook. I could have slipped away quietly. It was tempting to do that. But I wanted to thank my friends for including me in their lives, taking an interest in mine, and being so kind and loving to me and my family over the past few years. Yes, Facebook hasn’t been all bad. Actually, it has enriched my life in many ways.

So many kind comments: “I’ll miss you!” and “No!” and “I understand!” and “Can I have your email address because I want to stay in touch?” and “How can I follow your blog?” In my last post, I said many of my Facebook friends aren’t real friends. That’s true. But some of them really are real. I’m going to miss them. I’m tempted to reverse my decision. But I’m not going to.

I’ve been thinking about disentangling myself from the Internet for a very long time.  I’m tired of my thoughts going around and around in circles,  feeling unsettled, knowing I need to make some changes. Yes, no, yes. I can’t live like this any longer. I need to move on.

I think about how much time I spend on the Internet. I hop all over the place, clicking links, chasing information, chatting, wasting time. My behaviour is rather pathetic. The other day, I followed a link from Facebook: You should see Susan Boyle today. You won’t believe your eyes! (Or words to that effect.) You might not believe this: I clicked through three dozen web pages of ‘that was then and this is now’ superstar photos. And I didn’t even see any of Susan Boyle. The more times I clicked, the more determined I was to keep going: I can’t give up now. Susan might be on the very next page. You know what the sad thing is? I haven’t even heard Susan Boyle sing. I’m not a fan. She’s just a name to me.

I’ve been doing more and more similar stupid things recently. I can’t seem to help myself. Why? Perhaps the Internet is addictive? Yes, I could blame the Internet, but I’d be deceiving myself. My children have no trouble using the Internet in a sensible manner. They use it purposefully and then disengage. They can’t afford to waste time online. They have loads of other things they want to do.

We often worry about the time our kids spend on their computers. We could be tempted to make strict screen time rules. But is it children who have a problem or is it us? Perhaps we assume our kids will react to a situation in the same way that we do. But maybe they won’t.

If the Internet isn’t addictive, why am I spending far too long online? A question worth pondering. Do I not have loads of other things I want to do? I have a long list of projects I could be working on. Am I tired? It’s easy to keep clicking when our energy levels are low. Can I blame social media? Does it distract me? Perhaps I have lost my ability to concentrate. Maybe it’s easier to keep on clicking than it is to settle down to some real work.

Some months ago, I read Cal Newport’s book Deep Work. I then spoke about it in a couple of my podcasts. I admitted I do very little deep work because I’m easily distracted. When I’d finished the book, I knew I had to change my behaviour. I made a vague resolution to do better. But, of course, I got distracted and never actually did anything.

I’m doing something now. I’m not going to let the Internet dictate how I behave. I’m going to follow the example of my children. I’m going to stop being pathetic and work on my concentration. It is possible to change. And then I shall do some deep work.

Very soon I shall no longer be on Facebook. Will I miss my friends? Will they miss me? What will I do when I suddenly have some news or a funny story or something interesting to share? Will anyone still read my blog? Lots of questions.

But the biggest question of all: How long will it take before I stop checking my phone for Facebook notifications?


Do you ever assume your children will have a problem with something just because you do? Are you easily distracted? And do you ever waste time following stupid links? I wonder if you like Susan Boyle and her music!

Tags: , , ,

Related Posts

Previous Post Next Post

Comments

  1. Reply

    This rings so true to me. I definitely think it is an overwhelm mindset. When we can focus, we get on with meaningful work.
    By disentangling from busy work, your brain will have energy again to settle.
    I need to do something like this too, but I get so much from all the groups on fb that I rejoined.
    I wonder if we feel lonely in real life, so go looking online. I think I do.
    On a brighter note, my boys have written their blog post finally!
    https://wordsfrommycamera.blogspot.com.au/2017/08/the-house-on-12th-street.html
    All the best Sue, I know this can’t have been easy.
    xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Reply

      Jaq,

      Oh yes, I do agree that my mind gets overwhelmed and this prevents me from getting on with meaningful work. Now that I’m disengaging, I hope things will improve!

      The internet does allow us to find like-minded friends. I don’t often meet up with friends in real life. We are the only homeschooling family in our parish and the only unschooling one in our larger community. I do appreciate being able to chat with online friends like you who understand what we’re doing. Maybe now I’m not on FB, I’ll have more time for connecting with other bloggers. Also, one day I’d love to meet you offline. You don’t live that far away from us!

    • Angie W
    • August 17, 2017
    Reply

    Well now I just have to follow you on your blog again. I admit to rarely reading blogs anymore because I too have been mindlessly clicking and scrolling. I’ve chased other’s photos as well, wondering what they look like now, but maybe not Susan Boyle. I’ll miss you on FB,.but I applaud your decision. God bless!

    1. Reply

      Angie,

      It’s so lovely to see you on my blog. It reminds me of the old days when we’d read and commented on each other’s blogs. Do you remember the post you wrote about your wonderful cupcake Rosary? I often think of it!

      I’m so pleased you’ll be following along. Thank you! God bless you too!

    • Luana
    • August 19, 2017
    Reply

    Yes, yes, yes, I think internet can be really addictive, especially when being tired and not feeling well. Sometimes I read something beautiful and inspiring and it lifts me up and I have renewed energy for the day. But of course it doesn`t happen every time online. Still, when overtired and not feeling well I tend to start clicking “till I get this feeling”, my high 😉 Because there is so much out there in the web and there MUST be something, that can simply and quickly make me feel much better!
    And thats probably the day, when I won`t get it, no matter what I read and where I click. But then it gets harder and harder to stop, because at that point I already feel even more miserable and overtired and need my “high” and “inspiration” even more.. and thats the perfect trap.

    Usually this is not a problem, but when I am exhausted.. internet can be dangerous. And all the sites I read give me even more chaos in my head and it gets harder to think clearly and sleep well and then it gets harder to stop. Perfect trap-circle.

    Well, it would be useful to learn to accept my feelings, even the uncomfortable ones, and to sit there and feel all the tiredness, or sadness, or exhaustion or whatever.. and try to express this feelings through words, or music, or drawing or.. simply sit and listen to my heart. It is hard to do and then I mostly prefer to run away from uncomfortable feelings.
    Thats where internet trap is waiting for me.

    I wish you few nights of good good sleep and some beautiful moments in the nature!
    Big hug, from today very tired Luana

    Your post keeps me from klicking further, I am going straight to my bed.

    1. Reply

      Luana,

      It can be really helpful thinking about possible reasons we’re finding it hard to deal with the Internet, can’t it? There’s no doubt that at certain times we find it difficult to use it properly. LIke you said, the Internet can be a big distraction from how we’re feeling: tired or sad or whatever… For me, it’s often too much trouble to find the right thing to do during these times. Maybe I should have some alternative activities ready such as the ones you suggested like music or drawing. I think I’d like to listen to more audiobooks and embroider. That would be far more profitable than mindlessly clicking around the Internet. Build up some new habits, maybe.

      Yes, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep sometimes. I’m trying to be disciplined and not use my computer after dinner. This gives me time to wind down.

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re also feeling exhausted. Thank you for your kind wishes. It was lovely of you to stop by with some encouraging words. I hope you’re able to get some good sleep as well! Sending back a big hug!

        • Luana
        • August 23, 2017
        Reply

        Thank you! I am really really glad I went to bed early last days, but I still didn`t manage to get enough sleep (sick children waking up). But this moment will come 🙂
        Hope you could sleep better and wish you sweet dreams!

        1. Reply

          Luana,

          I was so sorry to hear your children were sick. I hope they are all better and you’re now getting enough sleep!

    • Beate
    • August 20, 2017
    Reply

    I’ve found my Feedly and need to weed it out so I’m only seeing a few blogs 😉 You have a lovely online presence, so I’m happy you’re not going away altogether! As for Susan Boyle, I love her voice, but haven’t heard her in a long time.

    1. Reply

      Beate,

      Thank you for thinking about a way you can keep in touch with my blog. You are a kind and loving friend and I appreciate how you continually encourage me with my blog and podcast. I can’t disappear altogether. I’d miss you if I did that!

      After reading your comment, I now want to listen to Susan Boyle’s music. I won’t go clicking any more links looking for photos. Instead, I’ll just go to Spotify and listen to an album while I embroider!

    • Carolyn (Olyn Bee)
    • August 23, 2017
    Reply

    I listened to a podcast about how the internet CAN be physically addictive. We seek around on the internet and when we find something (whether it was what we were intending to find or not), we get a little hit of dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel good and the more we seek and find, the more hits we get. The internet is so perfect for this, more than anything else in the world, I think. Low dopamine is associated with depression, fatigue, and moodiness. It seems like this could be a vicious cycle – we come to depend on dopamine hits from surfing the internet, so when we aren’t getting those hits, our bodies don’t make enough dopamine, so we feel depressed or tired, so we get back on the internet to get more hits. Interesting stuff, huh? Well, it’s interesting to me! 🙂 I also am aware that I spend too much of my time putzing around the internet and an hour or two later I haven’t gotten anything done. It feels like a huge waste of time and I am more and more motivated to change things. But, I haven’t come up with a good enough replacement for my habit/addiction. I look forward to following you here (and podcasts) as you make changes in your life to do more deep work.

    1. Reply

      Carolyn,

      I’d love to listen to the podcast about how the Internet is addictive. If you have a moment, could you please stop by with a link? I read some articles about how app developers are taking advantage of people’s need for dopamine hits. It’s all rather alarming how we let our behaviour be dictated by the Internet. Or at least some of us let ourselves be affected by it. Maybe the Internet is a bigger trap for some of us than others. I pondered the Internet and social media in this week’s podcast. It is indeed interesting stuff!

      Thank you for continuing to follow me despite my absence from Facebook!

        • Carolyn (Olyn Bee)
        • September 2, 2017
        Reply

        Hi Sue! The podcast I listened to is: http://www.danielvitalis.com/rewild-yourself-podcast/sleep-starts-in-the-morning-shawn-stevenson-83
        The Rewild Yourself podcast “Sleep Starts in the Morning” with Shawn Stevenson. You can skip to 50:39 to hear Shawn talk about dopamine.

        I have been unable to download your latest podcast. So bummed. I restarted my iphone and tried a bunch of other things, to no avail. Have you had this problem and have any suggestions?

        1. Reply

          Carolyn,

          How frustrating that you were unable to download my latest podcast on your iPhone. I checked my Itunes feed and everything is working fine for me so I’m sorry but I really have no idea what the problem could be. You could download the episode from the Podbean site or listen to it via my blog. I hope you find some way of listening!

          Thank you so much for the podcast link. I’m looking forward to listening!

    • Elaine
    • September 1, 2017
    Reply

    I’m so grateful for your podcasts and input. Im just starting the journey of unschooling and with no one else around me remotely raising kids in a similar manner, sometimes I feel like I’m searching in the dark. Will this really work? For the past month and half, my 12 year old daughter has chosen nothing but that dreaded word “screen” time with 90% spent on gaming. I want to know what will happen next? This can’t be it. Even if I’m positive or at least neutral towards the internet and screens, this can’t be it right? I don’t think she’s addicted because she is having fun. But I also don’t think she is doing “deep work.” Because she jumps around from one game to another to another. I don’t know.

    I must share though that our relationship has greatly improved and I’m learning to trust her. I think that was the main goal to begin with. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for raising this important question about the internet and whether it is addictive or not. I find that most unschooling groups hold kids’ choice so tightly that if we question “screen” time, there is always a push back against you. Anyway, thank you.

    I do want to ask what your opinion is about binge like behaviors. Does it always pass?

    1. Reply

      Elaine,

      It sounds like your daughter is really enjoying unschooling. I bet she is learning a lot despite your fears that she isn’t doing any deep work while playing games. I have watched my children using the computer and have been amazed by the skills and knowledge they gain while playing games. Have you sat next to your daughter and observed her gaming? Could you ask her what the games are about? Maybe you could try playing too. This will give you an insight into the whole learning process. Your daughter might also be thrilled that you want to share something she is interested in.

      I bought a book about computer games and learning called ‘Don’t Bother Me Mom- I’m Learning’ by Marc Prensky. I haven’t finished reading it so I can’t tell you what I think, but it came highly recommended.

      https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Bother-Me-Mom-Im-Learning-ebook/dp/B0054DR0IS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1504417134&sr=1-1&keywords=don%27t+bother+me+mom+i%27m+learning

      It’s really hard not to worry about screens, isn’t it? Many people say they and the Internet are not addictive, but there are a lot of adults who seem to have problems handling them. If I find it difficult to control my online behaviour surely some children do as well. However, I don’t think addiction is inevitable because all my children use the Internet and their various screens without any problems at all. Maybe, for some people, computers, the Internet etc fulfil certain needs. If our kids don’t seem to be coping with their time online, should we dig a bit deeper? Can kids’ needs be fulfilled in other ways? Of course, there might not be a problem at all. Yes, binge behaviour could be a normal reaction to a sudden lifting of restrictions. I shared some more thoughts on this topic in my latest blog post, ‘Is it Really Okay to Give Unschooling Kids Unlimited Access to Screens and the Internet?’

      https://www.storiesofanunschoolingfamily.com/is-it-really-okay-to-give-unschooling-kids-unlimited-access-to-screens-and-the-internet/

      We don’t live near any other unschoolers either. But at least we have the Internet so we can connect up with like-minded people online. We can share ideas, support and encouragement with each other. (Despite the difficulties, the Internet allows us to do some wonderful things!) Please feel welcome to stop by and chat again whenever you feel like it!

Join in the conversation!

1 share
%d bloggers like this: