Internet Addiction & The Power of Habit
Posted August 24, 2008on:
Like most bloggers I know, I struggle with an addiction to the internet. I call my internet “habit” an addiction because that’s how it feels most of the time; I feel compelled to read and write and before I know it, an hour (or more) has passed. I suppose that if I were making lots of money blogging, internet addiction would be in my job description, but it doesn’t work so well if you’re a working mother with a household to run and a blogging hobby that feels like it’s taking over your life.
The thing is, I’ve been amazed at how little time I’ve spent online during my vacation. My husband brought his laptop and our rental house has easy access, but I’m completely off my usual routines and my internet “cravings” are all but non-existent.
I’ve checked my email a few times, and looked at my blog and peeked at a few others now and again. When the idea for this post came to me, I thought I’d be anxious to sit down and write, but it took a couple of days before I made the time.
I must confess that the weather has been picture-perfect, and in fact was so hot, that sitting in bed working on the laptop was out of the question for the first few nights. What a terrible habit anyway! But once my pattern was broken, I just didn’t feel the need to be online – I’ve actually read an entire book in just a few days! Isn’t that what vacation really should be?
A lot of self-improvement and productivity blogs and books talk about habits: how to break bad ones and how to establish good ones. While flylady preaches to homemakers about establishing housekeeping routines, Leo at zenhabits inspires his readers to empty their inboxes, get their important tasks done, even run a marathon – all thanks to the power of habit.
I’ve learned how powerful habits are when it comes to eating and exercising. Most people groan when I tell them I get up at 5am to exercise, but the truth is, it’s become a habit and it’s not that hard anymore. A few years ago I decided I needed to eat more fruit; it was hard at first, but now making a plate of fruit to serve with meals is automatic.
This experience of suddenly losing my compulsion to be online has been pretty powerful, and raises a lot of questions for me about my quest for self-improvement and how I might harness the power of habit to meet my goals. In general I think it’s harder to stop doing something (smoke, eat too much, surf the net) than it is to add a positive activity (eat more fruit, floss, make your bed); I think that’s part of the reason why dieting is so hard for most of us.
But if it only took two days of staying off the computer for me to (almost) lose my compulsion altogether, what else might I be able to accomplish? I have some ideas about that, which I will share in future posts.
In the meantime, what about you? Have you had this kind of experience with habits and routines? What have you learned or accomplished as a result? Have you found a way to manage your internet “habit” or do you feel it’s out of control?
Please share – I’d love to hear from you!