WHY IS IT SO EASY TO GET ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET?
Help! I'm addicted to the Internet...again!
WHY IS IT SO EASY TO GET ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET?
One reason, is that it's just so RIGHT THERE, every single second!
It's on your desk at home...it's on your desk at work....it's on your phone...it's on your tablet...(I had to add that line, due to the growing popularity of tablets) it's... EVERYWHERE!
You can't get away from it, even if you want to (and let's face it...often we DON'T want to - that's the problem)!
With just a click of the mouse, or a tap of your phone, you can virtually GO anywhere you want.
You can virtually DO anything you want!
In addition, the Internet can PROVIDE you with just about anything you want!
SO MUCH STUFF ONLINE...WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Le'ts see..there are games, and there's shopping, and there's selling your own stuff, and there's uploading pictures of your cat doing something cute, and there's writing (contests, blogs, responding to blogs with heated comments, and let's not forget Hub Pages)! Then there's socializing. Lots of that!.
So if you are a person with no life and few friends...guess what? You can have a whole bunch of new friends and feel really, really popular - like you never did back in school. All you need to do is go to "your" site with your peeps, and suddenly, you are a super-star!
If you are a stay-at-home mom (like myself) who feels isolated - simply click-click-click and POOF! Now you are part of a whole community of stay-at-home moms, no longer feeling isolated!
Plus there are tons of interesting and funny things to read online; recipes to try, craft instructions to follow, videos to watch, forums to join, and even sites where you can be naughty (hey, if that's what you're into).
There are E-mails to answer, and Facebook and Twitter accounts to check up on, and connections to be made on LinkedIn, and Pinterest pictures to pin, and a Tumblr pic of someone with red and purple hair to reblog, and let's not forget a review to write on that movie you saw last night...
There are medical sites to visit that will explain that mysterious rash on your arm.....oh, and then there's your dog's sites, too....there might be some new friend requests. You wouldn't want to be rude and ignore those poor dogs, now would you?
The Internet is like this magic portal to the whole world - or to another DIMENSION (if you participate in RPG games, you can even BE another person} - that provides you with an easy escape, which is even more tempting if you currently aren't thrilled with your real life.
You name it - you can find it online. You never need to get bored. Or lonely! As long as you have your Internet connection.
So what's the problem?
TELL TALE SIGNS OF ADDICTION
The problem is when the Internet and all its endless goodies starts becoming MORE IMPORTANT than your real life....or when the Internet stops you from trying to solve the problems in your real life, which is what escapism is all about.
The real problem is when you'd rather talk to the people online than your own spouse or family!
Has this ever happened to you? You're online and someone in your family tries to talk to you...and you actually feel all annoyed, like you wish they'd just go away and leave you and your beloved Internet in peace?
Or how about this? You're sneakily typing away at some unGodly hour, while the rest of your family is sleeping....you know you should be sleeping too, but you just need to add this one paragraph to your blog, and then upload some new pictures....
Or here's another example of when too much of a good thing turns into a bad thing...when .a guy is more into those afore-mentioned naughty websites than his own wife or girlfriend!
AN INTERNET ADDICTION TEST
Can you answer YES to any of these 4 questions?
Do you often find yourself online saying, "Let me just check one more thing...." and before you know it, 3 hours have flown by?
Do you often feel guilty at the end of the day because you haven't accomplished anything besides being online for nine hours straight?
Do you often not know what the weather is like - or even what day it is, because you're too busy sitting inside, hunched over your computer?
Do you often use the Internet as a procrastination tool, because you simply can not bring yourself to clean up that disaster zone of a house, or get going on some other dreaded chore?
Do you have more friends online than you have in real life - and do they know more about you?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, and YES. Oh no...you guessed it. I just took my own test and failed!
Why do so many of us seem glued to our computers every second...... madly typing away with a feverish gleam in our eyes, as though our very lives depend on what we are typing?
And for those brief moments when we're not actually online (like maybe we took a break from the computer to take a shower....) we're THINKING about what we want to do NEXT online!
We're thinking about what piece of writing we have to fix, or what we're going to say in an E-mail...or what we want to buy on Amazon or E-bay, or how royally P.O.'d we are because somebody took us off their "friends" list,or what question we want to pose on a forum, or which celebrity we want to research.....or what our cat should post in "his" diary on Catster.
The Internet obsesses us. Look at me. I'm a great example. I'm actually online...TYPING ABOUT BEING ONLINE! Oh brother!
WHAT ABOUT THE LAUNDRY? OR WALKING THE DOG? OR SPENDING TIME WITH THE CAT? OR CALLING GREAT AUNT GERT?
We know we should be doing other things...like tackling our "in" basket, or tossing in a load of laundry, or spending time with our spouse...or our cat.(instead of pretending to BE our cat online)...or maybe even going outside and getting some fresh air for a change.
Fresh air? What's that? Can I bring my computer?
But.... no. Instead, we feverishly check our Facebook and Twitter accounts. On our phones, we watch the latest video, or type silly questions into Google Search, like..."do zombies go to the bathroom?" (Believe it or not, a lot of people have actually typed in this question, including yours truly).
Why oh why is the Internet more compelling than real life? Perhaps it's because we can go online and get immediate satisfaction. We can pose a question and BOOM, within seconds, we have more answers than we thought even existed!
Plus, getting back to the social aspects, when it comes to "meeting people,"it's just easier online...SOOOO much easier! With a click of an "accept" button we have a new friend! It's never that easy in real life. All of the anxiety of new social situations is magically removed.
Okay, I'm guilty. I'll be the first to admit (although I suppose you already guessed)!
It all started with those horrible chat rooms. Remember those, back in "00? Those chat rooms were so bad! You could never get a decent conversation going. But did that stop me? NOOO!
I found a guy to talk to in a chat room; a funny guy...a friendly guy....and I'm married! My husband discovered the E-mail trail...bad scene.....long story short....this was the boost I needed to stop my Internet addiction.
So I got more involved in real life. I made a few friends. I volunteered at my daughter's school. But then,I discovered.....THE EXPERIENCE PROJECT.
THE EXPERIENCE PROJECT!
The Experience Project had everything a stay-at home person such as myself could want. I could set my profile up with all my "experiences" (things that interested me, such as "movies," "bright colors," "cats," "Jewelry-making," etc...) and talk to others with the same experiences.
I quickly amassed a wide circle of "friends," " wrote about anything I wanted; read juicy confessions, made juicy confessions, played Caption of the Day, answered Question of the Day, talked about the weird dream I had that night and had it analyzed...
I was hooked!
I recall risking frostbite by walking a mile and a half to the library when it was 3 degrees out, because our Internet was on the blink. I just HAD to get to a computer, so I could go on The Experience Project. When I arrived at the library and saw the bank of computers, I remember feeling such a sense of calm, happiness, and anticipation (hmmmm....sort of sounds like I'm talking about drugs, doesn't it?)....despite the fact I could no longer feel my extremeties.
After awhile, though, the thrill of The Experience Project began to wear off. After all, there are a lot of weirdos lurking around that site; many who enjoy wearing plastic panties.... need I say more?
BACK TO THE OFF-LINE WORLD
So I could breath a sigh of relief, and (briefly) join the real world, once again. Aside from E-mailing my mom, and checking Amazon for reviews here and there, I wasn't itching to go online every single second. My mind wasn't preoccupied with "Internet thoughts." I actually wrote a children's book about a talking cat during this time, and tried my hand at painting. I think I even scrubbed the bathtub.
But then came....HUBPAGES!
Uh-oh, now I'm addicted again! What should I write about next?
What pictures do I need to collect?
When I'm online, I'm busy reading hubs, as well.
It started out slowly...and sneakily, like The Experience Project. But yes, I believe I am hooked once again!
Take right now, right this second, for instance. I have a sinkful of dishes to be washed, and laundry is piling up in the hamper. Plus, I really should look for a job. I feel tense, because I'm not getting any of this stuff done.
BUT ISN'T THIS TIME DIFFERENT?
But wait! (I argue back)......isn't this time different? I mean, Hubpages is a professional site! It has to do with making money! It has to do with being intelligent and creative, as opposed to just hanging out and wasting time.
I mean, I'm not sitting here playing FarmTown on Facebook for five hours straight, right?
I'm not flirting with strange men online, right?
And hey; writing articles is way more admirable than, say, watching The Real Housewives Of Orange County, or Snookie and J. Woww on TV....right? Right? ....(and the only people who should be saying wrong are the Real Housewives of Orange County themselves, or Snookie and J. Woww).
ADDICTED IS ADDICTED...
Well...yes...that's true...except I seem to be on the computer constantly! (In fact, I even signed on at 2 AM, because I could NOT sleep - due to the fact I was stressed over something I needed to fix online)!
When was the last time I went for a walk?
Painted a picture?
Read something OFF-line?
Hmmm. Can't remember.
Yes, I talk to my family in the evenings. But my mind is on Hubpages. I even have a notebook next to me on the couch, easily accessable for writing down spur-of-the-moment article ideas.
SO WHAT'S THE PLAN?
So what should I do about this?
What should we ALL do about this?
Well, we could just stop paying our Internet bill, or get rid of the "hotspot" feature on our phone, or sell our computer/tablet/laptop/phone.
(WHAAAAT? Okay, that's crazy talk).
Of course we're not going to do those things. Being connected is so important in this modern world. For instance, my daughter was actually told by teachers that she needs the Internet to do research for homework. And since my own mother isn't much of a "phone person," e-mail is a great way to keep in touch.
Besides, no matter what you get rid of at home, there's still Internet at work..and the public library....
STILL WONDERING...WHAT'S THE PLAN?
So I repeat....what should we all do about this addiction?
It's hard to know what to do, since a huge part of us does not want to give up the addiction - even though deep down inside, we know we should.
Right? RIGHT? I didn't hear anything!
Anyway, so here's what we're going to do. I mean, we could quit Hubpages. But it wouldn't be long before we found ourselves lured by something new.
So, it must be...TOUGH LOVE! We must force ourselves away from the computer to do other things....we should make a list of other things (NON-Internet things) we want to accomplish in a day. Or maybe new things we would like to try...like, say, fly a kite on the beach! Or take a French cooking class. Or paint flower-pot people with our child. Or learn ballroom dancing. (And no....taking pics of yourself for possible profile use does not count as "something else to do").
We should make more of an effort to talk to people in real life...we should make actual PHONE CALLS, you know? Remember those?
We should exercise...for our health, for our bodies, so we can live longer and lower our blood pressure and all that good stuff that doesn't happen when we just sit in one place typing for hours.
We should not allow ourselves to stop in the middle of whatever we're doing, because we suddenly need to go "fix" something on or "check" something on one of our millions of sites. We need to make firmer rules for ourselves and stick with them. We need to say: After I'm done putting this laundry away...THEN I can go online for a little while...but not before, I will NOT use the Internet as a procrastination tool!
In other words,we should not madly dash through washing the dishes, just because we thought up the perfect comment to pose on the Celebrites with Too Many Hair Extensions Forum. No, instead, we should focus on washing the dishes well, or food particles will be left on which can lead to food poisoning.
Of course, there's probably a Food Poisoning Forum going on somewhere...but who wants to be part of that?
OTHER STUFF WE SHOULD DO!
When our family is around, we should give them our full attention...instead of slipping off first chance we get to edit our online article, or talk to our new friend from across the seas. Or even worse...only HALF listen while they talk, while the other half watches a "How to Make Chibi Dolls" tutorial on YouTube.
We should entertain. Plan a party! Or how about a garage sale? What about volunteering? That's always good. Bake some blueberry cupcakes. There's always cleaning.
Okay, maybe we can forget cleaning. I can't really make a good argument for cleaning over the computer. There should be robot maids by this point anyway, honestly....that might make a funny hub...
No seriously! Let's not forget that time in front of the computer is not real life, okay? It's not healthy or natural....
(And no..... surfing online online outside at a picnic table does not count as healthy outdoor activity).
What about talking to people face to face?
What about just "enjoying the view?" The view that does not exist on a screen?
THE INTERNET DOES NOT CONTROL US, PEOPLE!
We can't allow the Internet to control us! We must take back the control! Truthfully, it never feels good when something else is controlling us, anyway.
We must have other thoughts running through our head when we find a few moments to ourselves besides, "Oooo! Let me quickly go online before my family gets back!"
So let's do it! Let's limit our Internet time! We can do it; I know we can. I'm not saying we should give up going online. Of course not! It's just...everything in moderation.
Okay, I need to stop typing now and start taking my own advice...
POST SCRIPT TO ARTICLE
Yesterday, I went into NYC for the day with my family. We walked around Central Park, hit the Museum of Natural History, bought some pizza - then I enjoyed a 7 dollar beer and a 4 dollar cupcake at Grand Central Station....I barely thought about the Internet all day! I'm very proud of myself.
EASY "REALISTIC" PLAN
Chances are, none of us is going to (willingly) give up our Internet.
After racking my brain, trying to come up with at least one helpful hint for dealing with our Internet addiction, I have come up with this. I call it, The Internt To Do List.
Simply write down all the things you want to accomplish online, and keep the list next to your computer. Cross off all the things that you accomplish - and add new as needed. Allow a certain specific time allotment for social sites (like we budget our kid's time online) if you must, and STICK TO IT!
This way, with the list by your (computer's) side,you are LESS likely to be distracted by other "things" (I liken it to being distracted by the new Spring clothes in Walmart, when I am just running in to get some hair spray and lotion). The list works. It helps keep you focused.
(And for those of you addicted to certain naughty sites - you know who you are - well, I'm not really in a position to help you. Just acknowledge the fact you need help...that's the first step...then figure out what you should do. But figure it out before the addiction ruins your life and makes you lose the ones you love)!
Give it a try, and good luck!
(WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING ONLINE)?