There’s no time like the present as they say. Well, it’s not even December, let alone January and I’ve decided to make a change. It’s a change that I’ve attempted to make before and have lost my resolution. You might say given up, but to give up implies that you actually make a decision to stop something. In these cases I made no such decision, I simply just stopped or forgot. Weeks later, I might stop and think, “Didn’t I decide to make a change here? Hmmm…”
Well, I’m going public which is always risky, but I feel like it’s warranted.
So, I’m not giving up the internet exactly but it’s sort of along that vein. I need to define more exactly what it is that I’m giving up or what I’m taking on, but essentially I’ve decided to be completely intentional about my internet use.
This may sound like a very unintrusive change, and it would be if I was a person who used the internet lightly here and there, and to be honest, I’ve got a lot going on and I don’t use it for hours and hours on end, but I’m a compulsive person and I find that whenever I have a spare moment I immediately head over to the computer and go to a news site or a sports site and click around. I like to do chess puzzles. I go to trivia sites sometimes. I recently decided to learn all the countries and capitals of the world among some other common knowledge datum that I thought I should learn and the internet is a great place to work on things like that.
It’s pretty benign stuff which you wouldn’t think is such a big deal except that, as I said, I’m a pretty compulsive person and when I have a spare moment I just spontaneously go to a computer. I don’t stop to think about things that I should be doing or could be doing. I just thoughtlessly go to the computer. I’m just there.
It’s also a dangerous way to procrastinate which is one of the main reasons that I’m trying to do this. If I’m working on a computer (which I often am) it’s very easy to click over to the internet and check the weather or look at the news or some sports scores. I’m constantly distracted by divergent and useless thoughts that take me off into other regions of the internet and it really doesn’t help me get things done.
There have been so many mornings when I have sat down, well before the sun comes up to get some writing done and I check the news, and then I check the basketball scores or the baseball scores or the football scores (American or European). Then I might think, “What other sports are there that have scores I can check…cricket? tennis? men’s field hockey? What’s going on in those leagues?” Then I might check to see what’s going on with Donald Trump. I might go onto his Twitter feed to see what he’s posted, and then I might go onto a news site only to remember that I already visited that site…twice, and I’ll look at another story. Then I’ll go back to the baseball scores…they haven’t changed and so on.
It’s bad. It’s useless and I could really get a lot more done if it put an end to it. It’s not always as bad as that, but it’s not far off.
These things are not a problem on their own, but it’s the act of simply going to the computer automatically and then thinking, “Hmmm, where I can go?” I want to move into a place of thinking about what needs to be done and then making time for it. If I need to look something up on the internet then that’s fine.
So far it’s going all right. I can’t cut myself off completely because I bank online, I blog online, its is helpful to check the weather sometimes and so on. So that’s tricky. I’m so compulsive about this (in some ways) that I think there’s just something soothing about clicking on buttons and seeing fresh content come up on my screen – any content, even if it’s the weather. I feel like my body is just craving to look at a website – even the most boring of websites.
So, I’ll think to myself that I want to check the weather, and then I’ll think to myself, “But do I really want to check the weather or is this just an excuse to push some buttons?”
Maybe there’s a sense of control – of agency. I click on something and I go to a certain site. There’s a certain degree of power in going on the internet and controlling where it is you go and what you click on.
But now I’ll come downstairs from putting down one of the kids and I’ll head for the computer and then I’ll stop and then there’s a moment of, “Now what am I going to do?” which is ridiculous because there’s always something that needs to get done. So instead of going on the internet and looking at nothing I might look at that basket of laundry and fold it, or I might fill out that form that needs to be completed. I might sit down and work on my book!
So, I really need to define exactly what it is that I’m doing so that I can identify what success looks like but I think you get the idea. I also don’t like to give things up for short periods of time. I want to figure out how to do this in a forever kind of way. That’s a bit scary. So I might want to think of ways that I can fit in the occasional chess puzzle or a look at a sports site.
I mean I have no idea what the Raptors are doing. I haven’t checked the scores since last week, and I actually don’t really mind that much, but I can check the newspapers at work – there’s other ways. It’s not like I’m cutting myself off from civilization.
But for now, it’s all in and although I feel a little bored and unsure of myself at moments, I think this is going to be fantastic.