12 Lessons From Beating Internet Addiction
1. You’ll need more than willpower
Willpower is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. The problem is that like muscles, willpower can become fatigued when overused.
Exams, deadlines, and the other realities of daily life can chip away at our willpower leaving nothing left for resisting the devices in our pockets.
On top of all this you have to fight against the army of neuroscientists, designers, and engineers in Silicon Valley who are designing these things to break down any remaining willpower you have left.
This means that relying on willpower alone is a recipe for failure. You need to have a system in place that takes some of the load off your conscious mind. By giving your willpower a break, you can let it rest and come back stronger.
2. The Internet Is Just As Addictive As Cigarettes Or Alcohol
The tiny pixels on your screen are changing the chemicals in your brain just like real drugs. Social media, pornography, and video games can cause cravings that are just as strong as what a smoker feels for a cigarette or an alcoholic feels for whiskey.
3. Don’t Do It Alone. You Need The Support Of Your Friends And Family.
You need to talk to the people you live with about your issues. Until you do this they’ll have no understanding of what you’re going through and won’t “get it.” They’ll ask questions like “Why don’t you just stop going on Facebook or YouTube?” When you explain, and they realize it’s a real problem, they’ll be a lot more empathetic and understanding. They’ll be more than willing to take on a little inconvenience to help you succeed.
4. You’ll Have To Give Up Things You Like
The only difference between people who become healthy and fit and people who stay fat is that the former are willing to give up the foods they like to achieve their goal. Likewise, there is no way to have the conveniences, freedom, and ability of modern internet if you aren’t willing to give up aspects of it that you enjoy. You’ll have to give up to gain.
5. NoSurf Is A Lifestyle
If you want your brain to rewire then there’s no going back. You can’t take a break from Instagram or SnapChat for a week or so. All the negative effects return almost the instant you log back in. This means you’ll have to fundamentally restructure how you live your life and how you derive enjoyment. You’ll have to start reading books instead of watching YouTube. You’ll have to go out of your comfort zone and build a real social life. It’s a long slow process but the rewards are worth it.
6. People Will Think You’re Crazy
When you show up with a flip phone or tell people that you don’t use social media they might think your weird, different, or a little crazy. Don’t let the opinions of others prevent you from taking steps to a better life.
7. We’re all addicts
We think of internet addicts as pale, virgin, neckbeards but this stereotype no longer holds true. The internet has become so widely adopted that addiction to it affects nearly every segment of society.
I’ve always been an outgoing guy with good social skills. When I was at home though, I was always glued to my screen.
My best friend is a classic “Type A” guy who went to an Ivy League school and works on Wall Street. When we went on vacation, I saw him inside scrolling through his emails. I saw him wake up in the middle of the night to check his iPhone.
One of the most beautiful, popular girls I know confessed to me that she once took 74 selfies before posting it on Instagram. She said after finally posting it, she constantly felt the need to check how many likes it was getting.
These are the new addicts.
8. Software Helps. Use It.
Smokers have nicotine patches. We have web blockers. Use them wisely and they can really ease the burden of quitting. I recommend Cold Turkey.
9. Social Media Is The New Cigarette
In the 1960’s people smoked everywhere. In hospitals. In restaurants. At work. No one knew how bad it was for them. 50 years later we’ve all started using social media in the same absent minded fashion. We never paused to ask ourselves the question that smokers should have: Could this be bad for us?
10. Leave Your House
We do most of our mindless browsing when we’re at home. This trains our brain to associate our home with the rewards from browsing. As a consequence, we’ll start to release dopamine when we’re at home and find it much harder to kick our habit.
One way to battle back is to leave the house. Go to a coffee shop or a public library whenever you can.
11. There’s No One Size Fits All Solution
The internet is used by over a billion people. College kids, teachers, programmers, and a hundred other categories of people rely on it daily. Every one of these people has their own lifestyle and set of use cases for the internet. What works for someone else won’t work for you. You’ll have to be smart, patient, and creative in designing your own personal strategy.
12. You Don’t Have To Cut Your Internet Or Give Up Your Smartphone (But It Definitely Helps)
If you want to cut internet at home and switch to a flip phone go for it. It’ll make your journey a lot easier. However, don’t believe that if you can’t take such drastic measures that it means you can’t overcome your internet addiction. It will be harder but you can still win.