When my family first got internet service back in the 90s - eons after all of my friends had it, let me just point out – my mom imposed a “30 minutes a day” rule. I was not happy. How was I supposed to scour Yahooligans! for games or perfect my Purple Moon profile or keep my Neopet alive in such a short time span. I mean, honestly.
Now, years of rampant internet usage behind me, I’m coming back around. I’m asking myself questions like “do I really need to refresh Tumblr for the third time in five minutes just in case I missed something?” and “will I survive if I miss the chance to retweet a timely joke on Twitter?” and “if a meal is eaten without being Instagrammed, was it ever eaten at all?”
I’m addicted and I don’t like it.
I feel like this is a phase every blogger eventually gets to, especially if you have one of those “day job” things and aren’t bringin’ in the big internet bucks. The internet is a fun place to be. Stuff is happening, it’s fast, it’s informative. What’s not to love about being connected to SO many people ALL the time? I’ve read countless posts about “unplugging” and always thought “oh come on, modern life is NOT that bad,” thinking these people were the type to pine for the “good old days” that they had not even been alive for. I hadn’t felt that urge to unplug and get away from it all. I felt the internet benefitted me and actually helped me to lead a more full life.
But, as things do, it crept in. I realized I had stayed up long past the point of tired just to read forums. I had mumbled responses to Adam’s questions because I was transfixed by a YouTube video. Yes, I brought my phone with me to the bathroom. I wondered whether this technological creep was actually beneficial at all. There were things I wanted to do – make dinner, crochet, read an actual book – that I didn’t get to because I was internetting. And what did I have to show for all that time online? Honestly, not a heck of a lot. The usefulness wore off within minutes of “logging on” and I was wasting time in the wikipedia rabbit hole.
So a couple weeks ago, I decided to put myself on an internet diet. 30 minutes a day (outside of work). That’s it.
My first step was unfollowing everything I had been hate-reading on Feedly/Instagram/Twitter/Facebook. Don’t act like you don’t hate-read stuff, fellow internet addicts. You follow certain people and weeks, months, years later you realize that everything they say or do annoys you to the core. Yet you don’t click “unfollow”. Because maybe just a little bit you like that spark of UGH every once in a while. But with only 30 sweet minutes to spend catching up, I ain’t got time for that. It was a cleansing purge. A colonic for my internet usage, if you will.
Then, I set up some rules:
1. All internet usage outside of work shall be limited to 30 minutes.
- This includes iPhone apps like Twitter and Instagram.
- This does not include streaming video like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu (mostly because I needed to binge watch Orange Is The New Black, obviously), but does include YouTube because that’s a time suck. I like to watch shows or movies while crocheting so I didn’t see that as part of the problem.
2. Weekend internet usage shall be limited to three 30 minute periods throughout the day.
3. Time limit can be extended if I’m actually being productive (writing on the blog. This clearly didn’t happen.)
Then I learned some things…
Giving up vast, uninhibited internet time was not as difficult as I had imagined and, maybe more surprisingly, I didn’t miss it. I wouldn’t say I’ve been all that more productive but I have felt better about those few precious hours between the end of the work day and snuggling into bed. I’ve cooked! Really, I have! I’ve read books! I’ve worked through a few skeins of my never ending pile of toy-quality yarn that I’m trying to use up (The Project That Never Ends.) There are improvements to be made, certainly. (I’m looking at you, Candy Crush addiction). But for now, I’m happy to keep my laptop closed.