I'm posting this question so I don't have to get offline
February 27, 2009 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Do you have suggestions about dealing with internet addiction in general and chat board addiction in particular?

I feel like I'm getting very addicted to the Internet.

The appeal is that places like Metafilter feel like the kind of social life I had in high school, college, and shared housing in grad school. At night when I was bored, I'd sit around the common room and shoot the breeze with people.

I have a great group of friends and a busy work life, so I'll have plans a few nights a week, but on the evenings when I don't have anything scheduled, I'll generally be online from 7 until midnight. I get lonely and bored even while I'm cooking, so I'll start the soup and then surf the web while it heats up. Ditto weekends and pretty much most unscheduled time, ever. Most chores get done in brief bursts while I'm thinking about something I read. I go to the gym right before or after work so I don't get sucked into the internet first. I even have a great long-term boyfriend. He does work-related stuff while I'm chatting on Metafilter. We'll talk for an hour or so and then go back to our separate online whatever.

After having spent another night online, I wish I had organized my desk or done another hour of work or basically done anything else. Even two hours ago, I was thinking "I should get off the internet," but then I decided to read just one last thread, and then one more. After a vacation, I'll feel so refreshed from having gone cold turkey for a week, but then my habit will slowly grow again.

This is a vague question but I'm just looking for how to start getting a handle on this. Should I treat the "cause" and move to a group house with a lot of people so I get the social input I'm getting online now? What if that's not really the cause? Should I treat the symptom and just lock myself out of the Internet? Talk to my therapist about this? Harness my internet addiction by starting a blog so at least it feeds into my creative and career goals? Any other ideas?

Also, at the moment, I'm feeling intimidated by the whole thing. I'd love to hear stories about people who used to be "heavy users" but found a way to ease off their online habit and ultimately achieve a better equilibrium between the internet and real life.

Sorry for being chicken and posting this anonymously. I'm just embarrassed about how much I'm online. You can email me at anony.account.123@gmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
posted by grouse at 8:06 AM on February 27, 2009

Do you use firefox? If so, I 100% recommend Leechblock. You can set it to block all sites for specific time periods, or some specific sites for whenever, etc... tons of options.

I just started using it, and it is helping me a lot.
posted by inigo2 at 9:17 AM on February 27, 2009

One thing that I've found helps is to tell myself "It will be here later". So in this case:

Even two hours ago, I was thinking "I should get off the internet," but then I decided to read just one last thread, and then one more.

I will hold myself to read "one last thread" and then get off the Internet and do something "real". I make it a point not to multi-task, for example, while heating the soup or doing other mundane tasks. Instead, I'll practice mindfulness, or clean out the junk drawer, or rearrange the fridge, just to have time in meatspace.

When I moved into my apartment (all mine for the first time!) I didn't get internet service specifically because I was afraid I'd become antisocial. I had to take my laptop to a cafe, where I could ignore others in public.

That's a pretty hardcore stance that I don't expect everyone to take, but it worked for me (sort of--the laptop now lives at my boyfriend's apartment, where Internet is plentiful, but we're at my apartment half the week).

It's an ongoing battle, but I don't think the problem is internet addiction so much as it is lack of self-discipline.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:37 AM on February 27, 2009

Seconding Leechblock.
posted by The Toad at 10:23 AM on February 27, 2009

Get rid of your computer.
posted by footnote at 8:01 PM on February 27, 2009

I got crappy pre-paid dialup instead of the ADSL I used to have. It helps a bit.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 8:56 PM on February 27, 2009

I used to use Leechblock, but I prefer the TimeTracker add-on. With leech block I would just go to other sites (than the ones I listed) to waste time. But with TimeTracker I get a neat little timer telling me how much I have used the internet today.
posted by LaszloKv at 9:52 PM on February 27, 2009

Another recommendation for Leechblock, with one caveat: take the time to experiment with different rulesets. I've found that whitelisting necessities and productive stuff (mail, google docs, parts of my blog) and setting a daily quota for the rest of the web works much better than trying to limit sites one by one. YMMV, and Leechblock is super-customizable, so try a few different systems.
posted by ecmendenhall at 8:23 AM on February 28, 2009

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