Thursday, July 1, 2010

Are You Addicted to the Internet?


No matter what store I'm shopping in, there seems to be one common theme-people with their heads glued to their phones. They are either walking and texting (usually not looking where they're going) or they're busy composing an e-mail, chatting up a storm, often completely oblivious towhat is going on around them, including their own children's needs and cries for attention.

Just last week I was in HomeGoods and a lady was chatting away and looking at some items on a clearance cart. As she tried to keep the phone from falling, she in turn broke something in the store! She looked mortified and quickly closed her phone and threw it in her purse, after apologizing to the store clerk. Then there is the whole problem of 'texting while driving' which is quickly becoming a huge danger. I found out that a friend of a friend just died while texting and driving a couple of months ago. So sad, he was in his early 30's-so avoidable and completely unnecessary.

I have a question for you. Are you addicted to your e-mail or the internet? I'll be honest, I think I am. Perhaps not to the extreme that many are, but this article on breaking the cycle of e-mail addiction really resonated with me. Guess what? It turns out that the addiction all comes down to one main need, which is instant gratification.

Back in the day we waited weeks for hand written letters and longed to hear a friend's voice on the phone, today we can text, instant message, e-mail, call from anywhere in the world, skype, or write someone via social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Three years ago my hubby got me a Blackberry curve for my birthday. I loved it-at first. Then the constant barrage of e-mails daily was enough to drive me crazy. I run a design business and while I do my best to respond to all of  my customers, I don't want to be accessible 24/7, nor is is necessary. I draw the line  at client contact on weekends-I don't answer business calls, and after a year of owning that  new phone, I turned off the data feature and saved myself a bunch of money in the process. A year after that I cancelled my phone plan when the contract was up and now use a pay as you go plan, making the majority of my calls from my home office. Sure it became less convenient, but I was so glad I did. In no time at all I was once again accustomed to not having instant information at my fingertips. I never wanted to be that person that was obsessed with their 'crackberry' and now it is worse with so many people having iPhones.

Then, five months ago I decided to remove myself from facebook (you might remember my post on my Facebook Sabbatical) because it was a distraction in my life at a time when I had so much to focus on as well as a few other reasons which I explain there. I gained more time back in my day but  it was unfortunately replaced with Twitter and more time spent blogging. LOL. Having said that I only spend 10 minutes per day max on twitter and I try to write most of my blog posts in the late evening after my work day and spending time with my hubby. At then end of the day, I think blogging is far more productive than frittering away time looking at photos and checking facebook statuses. I like to learn and reading blogs allows me to learn more about what I love-writing, crafting, yard sales, decorating, cooking, gardening, baking and gives me inspirational ideas too. This is all something that facebook never offered (via my personal account) so all in all I think it was a smart move.

My main concern is getting a handle on e-mail and web surfing. I have several e-mail accounts and while I don't check all of them each day, my main 2 accounts get checked multiple times daily when I'm on my laptop. I think I need to go on an e-mail and internet fast or detox of sorts. I find myself searching for decor ideas, reading blogs, checking my bank balance, renewing my library books, reading new articles, etc. While many of those things do save me time and hassle, I need to better define boundaries for myself.

As this Harvard Business Review article suggests, there are ways to slowly ease yourself away from the constant 'checking' of e-mail. Having said all of this, I am going to begin today. I will only check e-mail first thing in the morning  and again at 10pm-that is it. I hope to minimize the time I spend surfing by giving myself very specific limits. I already leave my cell and laptop behind when I travel for pleasure, so I'll keep that in place too. I'm looking forward to less online distractions and more time working on my home and spending time with hubby who could probably also use an internet detox, but I'll leave that up to his discretion.  My greatest hope is that at a time when so much is happening here at casa Davis, that I can find and maintain a healthy level of balance.

How about YOU? Do you feel compelled to constantly check your text messages, cell phone, facebook account or e-mail? Do you find that it affects the time you have available for other important things?

Happy Canada Day to all of my Canadian readers and friends! :)

12 comments:

  1. Hi Karla, good question. I think I am. I think most bloggers are. Some of us know where to draw the lines others still need to learn to do so and others may be happy this way.
    Even though I can manage time pretty well, I feel that I really need to do some improvement in the addiction department!
    x

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  2. I make it a point to leave my phone so I can't hear it. I have been thinking about dropping facebook. I do love blogging! I get so much inspiration from it. I'm with ya here!
    Great post!
    KarenSue

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  3. I was in definite danger of becoming fixated on my e-mail, Facebook and blogging. I decided a while back to limit my time and do no blog reading after dinner, that's couple time for my husband and me. I haven't checked Facebook in forever. Seriously, I don't really need to know every time one of my friends eats an amazing slice of pizza or just finished listening to John Mayer's latest.

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  4. Hi Karla-
    Well, becuase I blog I guess I spend a little too much time on the pc but I don't have it on my phone so that saves me. I'm not a texter and I check FB but not really involved too much in it. My hubby on the other hand has his job which is with him 24/7 :( Thanks for the giveaway mention!
    XO

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  5. Karla~ My name is Kristin and I am a blackberry addict. As a matter of fsact my phone is broke and I am going to get a new one tomorrow. And I have been without my berry for a few days and I will admit I use it way too much. This was a much needed post for me to read .
    Kristin

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  6. This post holds so much truth for me. I had to step back and evaluate how much time I spent online. I decided to go on a 40 day fast from facebook and its been one of my best decisions made. I have so much more time now to enjoy other hobbies such as reading and cooking new recipes. I admire your discipline in setting boundaries for yourself with your internet access hours. Instant gratification has ruined our generation and its good to see that you have a handle on things and is taking your time back. Very inspiring!

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  7. Here I am on vacation with a sleeping husband beside me and my new iPad on my knees reading blogs! And do I ever love this thing!

    The world of blogging and the friends and support I've found here I would never give up, though I've learned to restrain my number of blog posts and realistically assess how many of my friends I can "visit" each day. I kind of love how big my world's gotten, that when my daughter has a weird pain I can look up possible diagnoses and home cures, at the stuff available at my fingertips. But yes, the husband sleeping beside me. The real world relationships. I'll sign off on that!

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  8. I too realized that my life revolved around the internet. So, not only did I cancel my internet service at home but I also got into trouble at work for being on Facebook so much With not having internet at home and not being able to do Facebook at work, I am definitely finding more time to do other things. Plus, I find I have way more time with my kids now to go to the park or play games with them, which we all love. Internet definitely sucks up your life without you even realizing it.

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  9. Hi Karla, I am not an addict but I do love reading blogs and writing my own. I hardly ever use my cell phone and I do not text. If I want to get in touch with someone I will pick up my phone ,write a note or email. I think we are turning into a society with too many acquaintences and not enough real deep and meaningful relationships. I do face book to touch base with my kids but usually it is in the form of messages not on the wall. I truly do not get it. I really don't care if someone went to Starbucks,shoot I don't think any one would care that I went to the grocery store either. I know it is a generational thing but I fear for the lack of true communication and social skills. Great post, Loved that you are making a healthy change, Kathysue

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  10. Thank you ladies for all of your comments! Well, it turns out that I'm not 'addicted' afterall (yes, I know that's what every addict says. LOL), just need to set some boundaries. This long weekend was a good test since we were at home.

    I left my laptop off the whole weekend and wasn't even interested in turning it on to so much as check e-mail. My blackberry is only used as a phone now (no data/email) so I did not have access via it either. I have not used text messaging since moving to Florida 4 yrs ago. It felt great to get away from cyberspace for a while and just relax. :)

    ~K

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  11. I do think I am some what addicted to facebook and reading blogs!! I am off for the summer and I am finding that I am not getting much done.......extra stuff that is.. Tomorrow I am planning on setting up some type of schedule!!

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  12. I don't have a Blackberry (or similar), so I know I'm not as addicted as some.
    As for texting and driving, I'm so sorry about your friend, but people who text make me really mad - it only takes a second to do something fatal in a car.
    I have definitely noticed, if I sit down at the computer first thing in the morning (on the weekend, say), then the day tends to run away from me. And last thing at night, well, goodness, bedtime just doesn't happen unless I'm strict about shutting it down!!

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Warmly,
Karla

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