The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
My Internet Addiction Story
I remember growing up in a world where there was no Internet. A video game meant you played by yourself or with a friend who had the second controller. We actually went outside to play for nearly the entire day, and my mother would have to call me in for dinner. If I wanted to talk to my friend and see if he wanted to come over and hang out, I would have to pick up the land-line phone, dial his number – talk to his mom – and see if he could come over to play. Those were some good times. Times where we were not “connected” into something unimaginable at the time, the Internet.
Okay, the truth is, I did not really give up Internet fully. I can’t give up the Internet completely. My job requires me to be on the Internet and I have clients whose websites I have to maintain on the Internet, and other projects I am working on that require updates. I continue to run Confessions of the Professions, check my email, watch YouTube videos, stream Pandora or Netflix, research and read plenty of influential articles, and I work in an industry that requires me to be on the Internet for over 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, sometimes more. I never thought I would have a job — I would like to think of it as a career – in the Internet industry that requires me to work on a computer, allowing me to do what I love to do: Web Design and Internet. I don’t want to say it is unfortunate, as I do love my job, but that is over 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, that I am required to stare at a computer screen.
Having a job that requires me to be on the Internet only feeds into my Internet addiction, but I have become aware of my Internet addiction and have decided to get it under control. However, I would prefer a job where do I work on the Internet than one where I do not. Since I no longer work at home and I am required to be in an office, I must return home after work. When I get home, I would often do the same thing: Hop on the computer and check all my daily stops on the Internet. Considering my job required me to relocate recently, I had to find an apartment and I did not do what most people do when they first move into a new place: I did not call any cable company or Internet company.
Actually, I am not without Internet entirely where I live. My apartment complex came with free Internet, which requires me to walk to the other side of the building in order to access it, and it is not always the best. Sometimes it goes down or has a weak signal. I still prefer not to run out and purchase Internet from any cable company. My reasoning: To put a cap on my Internet addiction.
Instead of running home to get on the Internet, where I had access to it all day at work, I am now forced to go for a walk or go for a swim. I am not really forced to do those things, but I have become fully aware that I have the free time to do those things now, and why not? I sat at my desk for nearly nine hours and now my body is just going to come home and sit again? I get active for at least an hour a day – from walking, biking, hiking, or swimming. I ride my bike to and from work nearly everyday, which allows for me to have a somewhat active exercise lifestyle. On weekends, I may go for a long hike, walk, or a bike ride in order to continue an active lifestyle.
I also recently purchased a Chromebook that comes with 200mb free each month from T-Mobile, with the ability to purchase more bandwidth if I really need it, allowing me to simply connect and look up a website or make a post on Confessions of the Professions. The offer was appealing, and if for any reason, I need the Internet in case of an emergency, I have the Chromebook T-Mobile 200 MB available to me.
The fact is, we have grown so accustomed and spoiled to having Internet on our phones, on our computers, and WiFi available in most places – especially coffee houses and more fast food restaurants are beginning to offer free WiFi services – that we hardly ever have a chance to be without it, to be without our faces and eyes buried in some computer screen, where we are sometimes doing pointless stuff. Under certain circumstances, there are plenty of us who do need a Mobile Hotspot or WiFi connection in order to get some work done, but the majority of us are probably just addicted to “being connected” to the Internet all the time.
I have made the choice to not “be connected” all the time when I am inside of my apartment, where I am left to face my demons, my thoughts, and to actually use a computer without an Internet connection. What is most interesting is: I find myself more productive without Internet access — especially when it comes to writing articles for Confessions of the Professions or getting other non-Internet related work done.
I have made my apartment a safe-haven away from my Internet addiction. Of course, this is not entirely true – I have my smart phone which can access the Internet. I have gone a few days, even a week without the Internet, and while I may have thought about it, I did not really miss it. While I know I would never fully want to be without the Internet, as it has made life a lot easier, I do not want to be as addicted as I have been, so being aware of my addiction, and doing little things to prevent myself from using and being on the Internet all the time is helpful. There is more to life than the Internet. There is a world full of people to meet, places to visit, and fun activities to do that take place in the real world. The Internet is great for research and sharing your life with family and friends, keeping in touch with people, and even doing business, but the Internet should not be an excuse for not living your life – and “living life” is more than just going to the supermarket or a restaurant a few nights a week.
While I would never tell anyone what to do with their lives, I would hope to always be an inspiration and encourage people to be aware of their Internet addiction, admit that they have an addiction to being on the computer and the Internet, and start doing things to spend less time on the computer and the Internet, and more things and time spent with their families, friends, and communities instead. Life is worth living if you live it well – but the last thing you want to do is look back on your life and realize that you spent a huge majority of your life in front of a computer screen – probably doing mostly nothing, unless you made money doing it!