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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Hello, My name is Lydia and I'm addicted to the internet.

I've discovered I have a problem. A big problem. I'm stepping away from those I love and those around me, in favour of a fleeting hit of the virtual world. I'm addicted to my phone.
If you are spending more time thinking about what you're going to say to entertain random strangers (or 'friends' or followers) than actually talking to your real friends, then I suggest you do to.
As a result, I've decided to actively try to limit my online time - I'm trying to reduce my time on social media by limiting how often I look at it (3 set times a day) and leaving my phone in another room for periods of the day, or when in a social setting. I have noticed a negative impact on my relationships and concentration and I want that to change. I want to tune into my real world and the people actually around me.

We were listening to Freakonomics podcast (if you don't already listen to them, get them on your playlist now!) and the fabulous Aziz Ansari basically summed it up perfectly "all that shit people email you about all the time, all day, none of it is important. None of it is pressing. And if you just focus on the work you’re doing instead of focusing on it for like two minutes and then getting distracted to answer some question that isn’t pressing at all, you do a worse job...So I’d love to just throw out, if I could throw out the Internet as well, that’d be great. I never read anything. I’ve never read all these novels that are like these beautiful stories that have continued to have a resonance with people for so many generations...But instead, I choose not to read them. And I just read the Internet. Constantly. And hear about who said a racial slur or look at a photo of what Ludacris did last weekend. You know, just useless stuff. It’s like, I read the Internet so much I feel like I’m on page a million of the worst book ever. And I just won’t stop reading it. For some reason it’s so addictive.... I’ll say, the times where I haven’t read that stuff, the stuff that I normally read on the Internet, just nonsense blogs or whatever, the next day I’ve felt like I’ve missed nothing. You know? I deleted Twitter and Instagram off my phone. I mean I use them to like post stuff but I don’t have them on my phone. I don’t have, like, a feed. I don’t follow anyone. And I used to read that stuff a lot. And now I don’t read it. I don’t see those pictures. And I don’t miss it. And I feel like a lot of people do a lot of this stuff. And if they cut it out I don’t think they’d miss it that much. I really don’t. I mean when I don’t check in on those blogs and stuff, if I miss it I don’t go back and, like, if you don’t read [a] blog for a week,...you don’t go back and read Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Cause you’re not reading it for the information. What you’re reading it for, and this is just my personal theories about this stuff, what you’re reading it for is a hit of this drug called the Internet. The phone world. You just want a hit of it. Like when you scroll down and you see a new blog post you’re like oooh! That gets your brain excited. It’s like, oooh! There’s something new! And you click it and you read it and you’re like, oooh, but it’s garbage. It’s nothing. Like ok, alright. Somebody dropped an N-bomb. Great. Alright. I mean that is kind of a cool story, but, but you’re just searching for this new thing. When you look on your Facebook feed and you see these pictures it’s like, none of that shit really matters. You just want to see a new thing on there and it just gives you something to do. I’ve sat at my computer. I still do it. And I go on like Facebook or whatever and I’m like, what am I doing? I’m going on a loop with these same four sites for no reason. I’m not genuinely interested. Like, here’s a test, OK. Take, like, your nightly or morning browse of the Internet, right? Your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter, whatever. OK if someone every morning was like, I’m gonna print this and give you a bound copy of all this stuff you read so you don’t have to use the Internet. You can just get a bound copy of it. Would you read that book? No! You’d be like, this book sucks...It’s not that interesting."
The fact is, it's not really the information that's addictive, it's the checking for the 'latest hit' or the attention. So as I've found, the easiest way to limit the time spent in the phone world, is to take the phone away. If we're at home, it's in another room. If we're out, it's for checking with the babysitter only. Otherwise, the FB or twitter checking is for when I'm in a queue, or on the bus. One quick visit in the morning, and one before bed. Ansari agrees "if I go to dinner and I don’t have my phone, I don’t miss those moments of looking at my phone. But if I have my phone with me I want to look at it because it’s drug-like. You want to check it and just see what’s going on. And anytime there’s a lull in the conversation, our attention spans are so short you just have to look at it. But I don’t like that I have to look at it. I don’t like that I’m that compulsively addicted to checking my phone or the Internet. I definitely don’t like that. So it’s, you know, I’ve found the way to fight this kind of addiction is to kind of take the phones or whatever out of the equation. And then you end up being able to kind of resist it. And then you forget about it and your mind’s at ease."

I'm embarrassed to admit that what prompted this for me was my attention span (and not the fact I was ignoring the kids and my partner - shame on me but I never profess to be perfect) - I noticed it was harder for me to focus on reading books. My mind would start to wander midway through a chapter and I'd pick up my phone for a bit, then suddenly half an hour later, I'd still be on the phone. So now the phone goes in another room.

Interestingly, I have noticed others looking at their phones in restaurants or even dinner parties - there's nothing pressing. It's rude. That's all there is too it. I'm not judging because I'm still a work in progress, but I am taking a step in the right direction.

Do you rely on your phone world a little more than you should?

Linking with #MummyMondays

(PS I'm sorry that's such a huge cut & paste but I think he really nailed it. He has just written a non-fiction book on Modern Romance so I'm hoping this shameless plug of his new book will help him forgive me)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons:Aziz Ansari, Peabody Awards

25 comments:

  1. This is SO TRUE. I've been guilty of the same thing (ignoring my kids and Mickey Blue Eyes) so I've made a point to put my phone away. I don't know why I do this because when I focus on my family I have THE BEST time EVER. I had the most awesome belly laughs I've had in ages with Mr 6 this past weekend. Plus I love reading and writing and I want to spend more time doing those things than just pointless internet browsing. You're right, it really is addictive. It's a sickness, really. I gave up on spending time on Twatter but I'm still addicted to Facey. I refuse to have an Insta account, but that's really because I'm a shit photographer, otherwise I'd be as bad as every one else. I hadn't heard of that dude, but you're right, he has nailed it. Great post.

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    1. He's an actor and comedian - in lots of movies but Parks & Recreation was his big thing. If you haven't seen it, so funny!!!

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  2. Or you could do like me and turn that internet addiction into a business LOL. I currently do social media support for half a dozen businesses, and write web content as well. But yes, there are times when I need to have a digital detox and leave the phone behind!!!!

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  3. I'm like Janet and found a way to turn the addiction into a business. I'm starting to regret some of that though and now regularly schedule social media free weekends. Sometimes you need to disconnect to reconnect.

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  4. Yep I am really bad. I'm trying not to be so addicted but it's HARD!!!! My latest thing is to try and stay off social media at night and spend time with my hubby - but I do still sneak in a few glances!!

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  5. Well that was a perspective I'd never thought of! And yes, as the other ladies have mentioned, it's my career. As a Digital Editor the internet is in my daily life but I would be lying if I said there weren't times when I could just turn it off, cancel my social media accounts and just be.

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  6. Guilty as charged ... maybe that is why I like it when we go away and I do go social media free, very happily in fact. In real life I don't have many friends, or not ones that live in the same place as me so I am always wanting to check and hoping someone has contacted me. The digital world however sees me reading blogs and communicating through comments. That is all well and fine when I have nothing much to do (other than housework) on quiet weeks but often it impinges on the precious little time Mr Sparky and I have together, when he is often working overtime and I am working 4 nights a week. I need to limit it at night ... but then that becomes t.v time or when Mr Sparky googles stuff so maybe the answer is more time away camping and exploring.

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  7. I actually took all social media apps off my phone and iPad a little while ago. I've added some back on but not all. I'm at my desk all day so I can pfaff about on social media then. The only time I really procrastinate on SM is when I can't sleep and am lying in bed. Sometimes an hour or two will pass and I worry I'm letting myself get sidetracked.

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  8. Guilty here too. I've started to leave my phone to charge on my computer so it's no longer the last thing I see at night nor the first thing I look at in the morning. Love Aziz's view on our internet obsession - spot on!

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  9. yes my nose is always buried in my phone. now that I've deactivated my FB account we'll see if that changes at all.

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  10. Social media is addictive! I carry my iPad around with me almost everywhere! But I rationalise it by the fact that I no longer watch any tv series, so to me the internet is another form of entertainment and also a way to while away the time whilst my daughter is doing her athletics training three times a week. At home ion the evenings I try to concentrate on my family.

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  11. It's always a good idea to have a break from any devices. I do like his take on it but I'm also quietly amused that he posts on these things like Twitter or Instagram- just doesn't follow anyone. So he would have a feed- but it would be all him! :D

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  12. It's very mind-clearing to have a total physical break from devices. Whenever they are within reach, there is that impulse to 'just check'. I'd say I watch a lot less TV now than ten years ago, so it's been a replacement of one screen with another.

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  13. I've become so much worse since I started blogging. I had no interest before that, and it kind of goes completely against the whole 'slow living' ethos too.

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  14. Great post - and so so true. It's so easy to allow yourself to become addicted to the internet, whether it's FB, Twitter, Instagram, blog posts ... anything really! I try to have a complete break from any devices every morning, then also from 5-8 or 9pm while I make dinner, eat and chat to the family. It can be all-consuming otherwise!

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  15. I really don't use my phone much to check social media, which leaves me checking in and reading blogs when I'm on my desktop (I avoid the IPAD too, even when it is not being used by the kids!). I still think I can waste too much time, like Friday afternoon at work when my brain is slow.

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  16. I never use my phone to look at the Internet, only my lap top and I can't see anything except my emails when I'm at work from 7:30am until 4-5:00pm for 5 days a week so even though I waste a LOT of time online I think it's in reason... I think.

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  17. Well ... It can be a part of many people's job and hobbies so I see the good and bad in it. I live in the country so there are places where I can't use my phone at all and the digital detox is kind of enforced. I agree it's good to turn it off from time to time. I'm worst with y laptop. I need to have it with me all the time, so it's a big deal when I leave it at home.

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  18. On the weekends I rarely look at my phone, and when the kids are around I try very hard not to touch my phone. These days I figure that most of the shit posted is just people trying to impress others and show how great life is so it doesn't matter if I miss it!! xx

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  19. Yup - I am really bad at the moment and the worst thing is that I get really annoyed at my hubby and mum for the same thing. I'm trying really hard to stop it because it's not that important in the scheme of things.

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  20. "...page a million of the worst book ever..." - THIS.

    I can be great at putting down the phone and engaging but if I am in a procrastinate-y kind of mood, I can waste HOURS scrolling through garbage. It's a problem.

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  21. No phones at the eating table is our rule.
    Sometimes in moments of sheer work stress and pressure one arrives for a couple of minutes, but the rest of the family quickly remind the offender to put it away.
    Oh, but then there is Instagramming meals ...
    And checking in at restaurants ...
    Hmmmm.
    Ok, maybe I'm not so good.

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  22. He totally nailed it, didn't he? And you know that I've been onto the whole screen addiction thing for a while now. Our family has made big changes to get some screen freedom into our lives and it has made the world of difference. I find screens are so rude when out and about. What's going on on there that is more important than what we're doing right where we are? Nothing, that's what!

    Good on you for making some changes, Lydia. x

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  23. It's so true! I know that I am totally addicted and I think that it's worse at the moment when I am overseas as I am always checking to see if people are missing me or what I am missing out on being away. I always complain that I never have enough time to do other things that I love (including blogging which is also online) but the truth is, I think even if I spent half the amount of time on FB and Instagram (they are the biggest 2 for me) I would get so much more done!

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  24. It makes me think of how we're so preoccupied with never missing out on something. Everything is so instant and available online, and it's an easy trap to fall into.
    At the moment, I'm trying to get myself back onto screens more. Finding that balance is a tricky thing.
    Thanks for sharing the fabulous Aziz, Lydia. He's one of my favourites.

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