How to break internet addiction?
November 17, 2004 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I find that I am somewhat addicted to AskMe and the web in general. How have you dealt with your Internet addiction? [mi]

For about six years I've prided myself on very infrequent TV use, preferring that the time be spent on something more productive/mind-using. But recently I have realized that I have adopted a web-using pattern that is very similar to a channel surfer. I will check, for example, AskMe for interesting new posts, then another site, then a few more. After I am done I start through that little cycle again until I run out of time/am late/am very very tired because I should have gone to bed hours ago.

Sometimes I have tried to cut it down to once a day. But there might be a particular post that I am interested in (such as this question, I'm sure) and I find I can't stop checking it over and over, and then I can't keep my eyes off the rest of the site.

I don't want to eliminate my usage--I find I get a lot out of reading these sites once a day, and that that time spent is relatively effective. How do I do this, but stop the vicious cycle from beginning?
posted by grouse to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Get your hands on a good RSS aggregator and fill it up with your favorite blogs and news websites. For me, this causes me to devote a smaller chunk of time to reading websites, and makes the channel-surfing superfluous. It made my websurfing more structured and less "random," and while it doesn't cure an addiction it certainly mitigates some of its effects.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2004

I'd say 'cold turkey' for a while - as I don't think 'once a day' works - it's a bit like 'just one cigarette after a meal.' If you can't manage that, when you are on, remind yourself to walk away from the computer on a regular basis; just getting away from the screen helps to break the loop. Also if you drink coffee/soda, try reducing caffeine/sugar intake, especially in afternoon/evening, as (for me) this can lead to obsessive surfing/searching/reloading loops.

You could also find something more interesting to do that does not involve a computer.

Although really who am I to talk ...
posted by carter at 9:46 AM on November 17, 2004

Response by poster: PrinceValium: I have tried that a couple of times but found aggregator use somewhat frustrating--maybe this is because I wasn't using a "good" aggregator. Any you would suggest in particular for Windows?
posted by grouse at 9:48 AM on November 17, 2004

Response by poster: carter: I prefer to think of it as "just one more hit off the crack pipe." But I need that hit!
posted by grouse at 9:50 AM on November 17, 2004

But I need that hit!

Heh, that's what they all say ;)

Metafilter: Just one more hit of the crack pipe.
posted by carter at 10:09 AM on November 17, 2004

Re: aggregators--get thee to Bloglines.

The beauty of reading mefi and askme through an aggregator is that it's much, much less tempting to click through to comments.

That said, I don't think an aggregator will help your problem. At least it didn't for me. It made my web time a lot more efficient and valuable, but I'm still obsessive. I think if I could manage to check my email only twice a day, I would have accomplished something remarkable.
posted by frykitty at 10:19 AM on November 17, 2004

See also the previous internet addition thread
posted by majick at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2004

Reading is good. Sharing in culture is good. You spend a lot of time reading stuff on the internet. That's great. See if you can increase the amount of time spent reading blogs each day. And be thankful you're not wasting your time playing video games.
posted by ba at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2004

I have the same issue.
Do you work alone or from home?
I find that if I turn the TV on while I'm working, I have that sense of "company," or other people, that I seem to be looking for when I hit the web obsessively -- and get a lot more done. Yay, Tivo.
posted by mimi at 10:35 AM on November 17, 2004

How have you dealt with your Internet addiction?

I cut out TV entirely. I also try to create as much content online as I consume, at least relatively speaking. I have an RSS reader for the blogs that I don't need to actually look at, design-wise, and I try to use IM instead of email for quickie conversations and shift email to letter-writing. I never tell my boyfriend "gimme a few minutes, I have to do this one more thing online...." and I make sure messing about online isn't the last thing I do before I go to bed, or the first thing I do in the morning.

I try to get up on the days I don't go to work and have a cup of coffee and read a book for an hour or two which usually makes sitting and vegging online seem less appealing afterwards. I drink a lot of water and try to make bathroom breaks the time when I ask myself "is this surfing time really necessary?" It's hard because I do a lot of writing for work and I do it at the same laptop that I do all my online junk and it's very very easy to have one slop on to the other. I'm seriously considering moving to an unwired laptop for my writing projects just so I can get things done in a more timely fashion.
posted by jessamyn at 10:57 AM on November 17, 2004 [2 favorites]

I just posted this in the thread above but what I did was create another user on my computer and didn't load any net apps on it. Whenever I needed to do something with out distraction, I logged on as that user. It was a pain in the ass to switch back so it kept me motivated to finish that day's tasks before I treated myself as logging in as my "real" self.
posted by dobbs at 11:50 AM on November 17, 2004

I also posted another solution to this problem in the thread above, fyi.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:09 PM on November 17, 2004

One thing about Internet problems is I realize everything's attached to the dang computer; specifically music. Listen to a portable CD player or Ipod and walk around instead of listening with the headphones connecting you to the machine like it's a leash. I remember a pretty funny moment when I tried to get up from my desk with my headphones on only to be yanked quickly down by the cord. Ha, a little too honest for comfort, really.

I really love walking around work and at home with my Ipod on random when I'm trying not to hunt around the web so much.

It can also be oddly refreshing to visit a library to look over newspapers instead of news sites, etc.
posted by Peter H at 1:19 PM on November 17, 2004

Wow, you're addicted to helping people out on ask.mefi, and to more generally reading stuff on the web. How ever will you cope?

I find that a good book will keep my mind off surfing for a while. I'm currently reading "The Most Beautiful Molecule" at work and "America: The Book" at home.

I also have a range of phsical projects, such as laptop to digital picture frame conversions that keep me away from the Internets for brief periods at a time.

You could also try the Teevee.
posted by krisjohn at 6:18 PM on November 17, 2004

When I feel like I've been on too long, I shut down my laptop, close it up, and put it somewhere where it will take some effort to get it (on a shelf, under a bed, hidden beneath a pile of clothes, etc). I am so damn lazy that I will actually decide it isn't worth it to fish out the thing, plug it in, and turn it on. If I really need to be working on the computer, I hide my wireless card.

I then try to devote my time to things like reading, writing, doing Pilates, initating social engagements, writing letters to friends, making CD mixes, drawing, playing guitar -- endless fun distractions and duties, really. All the things the screen makes us forget!
posted by fricative at 5:58 AM on November 18, 2004

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