Building a Life Outside the Internet


#1

About a week ago I started reading a lot more about nosurf, and really reconsidering my internet use and accepting that I actually did have an addiction to the thing. This wasn’t the first time I had heard of nosurf or read about it, but every other time I’d just read it and take the advice in passing, letting it flow in one ear and out the other while I tried justifying to myself that my internet use was perfectly normal and non harmful. I’ve had about a week to read the forums and journals (which are absolutely amazing, with some truly talented writers) and really think about my past usage, and so I decided to write a journal.

Early Years and Gaming
I’ve been using the internet excessively as an escape from loneliness, stress, and feelings of inadequacy for what I’d say is about 5 years now. Prior to the internet video games were my go to crutch for life’s issues, and I spent many thousands of hours playing games. Sometimes with friends, but mostly by myself. Gaming was fun, and it was great with friends - but like with everything like that in my life I have always seemed to take it to the extreme, and to a point where it did far more harm than good for me. While most other kids at school hung out on weekends, and played sport, I would hold myself up at home playing LoL and shooters for 12hours. I’d eagerly await the end of the school day so I could rush home and play a few matches.
My parents repeatedly told me that I was playing too many games, and that I was wasting my life away, and I distinctly remember it always hitting a nerve when they said this because deep down I knew it was true, but I would still just dismiss what they said as ramblings of an out of touch generation.

Eventually I I realised what I was doing and stopped playing a lot, and instead reddit, youtube, and random forums flooded in to fill the space left in my life. All of it.

My Internet Addiction
Reddit was like this amazing place which seemed like the repository of all knowledge, wisdom, and humour that the world could offer, and in tiny, condensed, easily digestible portions. It pulled me in with memes and the personal stories and advice of strangers I felt I could relate to, or wished to relate to, while the odd bits of pseudo useful advice, anecdotes, and plethora of hobby and learning based subreddits which I never used worked as an excuse to justify the far too often 8+ hours a day I would regularly spend on the site. The I can’t count the amount of times I’d try learn programming, only to give it up hours later when I ran into the first road bump, or all the days I tried setting out on day 1 of an exercise program, only to give up shortly after.

Conversely, Youtube was an outlet to still get my gaming fix, while feeling connected and related to the streamers and youtube personalities that I watched. Youtube was like a friend simulator which I would rush to at the end of each day while hoping for some genuine human connection and fun. I ended up slowly giving up on youtube early this year, but I’m saddened to think about the thousands and thousands of hours spent on youtube and what could have been with that time.

Shit Habits, Shit Feelings, Shit Life
In conjunction with youtube, from 17-19.5 I think my life was just a weird haze between these 2 sites and Netflix. I had no actual hobbies (Netflix is a hobby right? haha), my social life was barely existent, my grades slipped once I started university. I become quite depressed (I wouldn’t say I had depression, but it was bad) and I isolated myself somehow more than I already had, and skipped class to stay at home and search reddit for a mix of random content to make the time pass quicker, and feel-good bull shit in the hope that my life would somehow get better without any work on my part. My life become a cycle or sleep, reddit, porn, and netflix. Pretty much anything to dull the feelings of stress, self hatred, sadness, boredom, and I think most of all loneliness which I felt at the time. I’d run to subreddits that made me like I could relate to others because of how shit I felt about myself. The non-stop self depreciating, self hating, depressive memes made me feel like I somehow belonged on the site, while the happy posts of facebook friends made me feel more isolated and detached from everyone around me. My grades, which were the biggest part of my identity, started to slip, and all in all it felt like my life was headed down a very steep hill.

I genuinely started feeling like I didn’t deserve happiness because I was a shit person. And that people didn’t like me because that’s just the way life was meant to be for me. I felt like a burden
to others for much of the time since I started university, as if my presence somehow detracted from their happiness. I started developing anxious thoughts about a lot of things, and the life ahead of my seemed daunting. It was daunting because of one main thing; the immense fear that I would wind up alone in the world. The fear that I would never find a relationship, and that I would lose all of my friends, and spend my days alone online. Loneliness drove me to gaming, and then the internet, all while exacerbating the problem. The isolation and constant consumption of negative media made me believe in a world that was very different to reality. A world where I was somehow both my own villain and victim. I don’t remember why or how, but I managed to realise my thought patterns about halfway through last year, and I made a concerted effort to change it.

Starting to Build Something
I made a bunch of life adjustments as quickly as I could. I changed universities to one that I feel much happier at, and where I don’t hate the commute. I found a part time job that I spent 3-4 full days a week at when I can. I started making an active push to hang out with friends and make new ones.

I cut down my internet time a lot as well. The majority of the day surfing the web became 3-5 hours, so relative I suppose, but the content was no longer the depressing pool of self pity it used to be, which was one of the larger changes. I guess my internet usage went from terrible to bad; my life was getting a lot better and things were looking up!

So for around 8-9 months life continued on this way, but it still felt like I was cruising along in my won life, without taking nay direction. I had an internet addiction which I still used to suppress my negative emotions and feelings of loneliness, but the feelings weren’t as intense as before (not that I had ever actually let myself experience the feelings since I always covered them up with cheap novelty), and I was keeping on track with living a kind of normal, expected life. Social life was improving, although still relatively small.

Around June this year someone said something to me which really caught me off guard in a lot of ways, and I don’t know why. She said that she was taking time to just work on herself, and so she had to give up this thing which she wanted to do, but knew wasn’t going to be good for her. I guess at that point it really hit me that I had to take responsibility for my own life and my own happiness. I don’t know why it hit me so much, but it just did.

Very shortly after I got a gym membership and made a commitment to go at least 6 days a week (which I have held to), and I studied my butt off for my final exams that semester, which helped to pull up my grades which were falling. I organised a holiday with some friends. I enrolled in an internship program at my school, which I’m currently doing, and I’ve been organising more meet ups and events with friends.

Where I am Now
So the last 2 months has been pretty busy for me, with university, internship, work, gym every day, and trying to meet with friends when I can, but reddit has still remained at a couple hours a day (up until last week). It fills my 1.5 hour commutes, my breaks, and a lot of my free time.

Part of me wants to say reddit is a huge time sink and that it never gave me anything, because I think that would make it a lot easier to let go of the whole thing, but the my truth is that it really helped me to become a far more empathetic and open minded person, and made me understand myself a lot better. After 5 years however it started to become clearer that the diversity of voices I had thought were on reddit were in-fact just 90% rehashes of the same mindset and opinions. The same posts were repeated day after day, and by the end I always knew what the top comments would be before opening common threads, because they were the same every time.
Toxic mindsets and world views were also aplenty on many subreddits, and hearing them over and over, no matter how much I knew they are wrong, slowly caused them to seep into me own views. And the sad thing is I don’t even know what my own views are. I feel like I’ve just parroted what other people upvoted the most and were most popular, without giving any real thought to most issues.
I haven’t gone on reddit in 5 days. I’ve been meditating more, and trying to do more productive things like study, work, and spending time with other people.

The Persistent Issues to Fix

Writing this I realise that my entire teenage years, and up to now at age 20, I’ve always excessively used either gaming or the internet as a crutch, and as a way to escape negative feelings. I never learnt to actually deal with them during my adolescence, and always seemed to run away from them for the most part. I guess I’ve never actually learnt to deal with them properly.

Loneliness is still a problem for me, and finding constructive ways of dealing with it is difficult, but I’m trying. I still get a mini rush every time I see message/facebook notifications, because I treat it as a sense of validation, which I really want to change as well.

I still tend to give up or refuse to start anything that is difficult, or doesn’t provide fast rewards for effort. My attention span is quite fried, which was evident by the fact that over the last few days I keep instinctively reaching for my phone every few minutes whenever I try to study or concentrate on something.

And of course the issue of finding something to fill up my spare time with is huge, so that I don’t fall back into the the mindless dopamine driven browsing that was my life for a long long time.


#2

This is one of the most deep reflective pieces I’ve read on here. Thanks for being so honest about your past and writing all this. I’m sure it’ll help someone else who stumbles upon your journal if they’re in the same situation that you are.

You’ve made a lot of progress so far man. I don’t have much to add, it seems like you’re already going in the right direction and have a sound understanding if the process. It might be just fine adjustments from here on out. If you need any help/advice on the way just let me know.

The one suggestion I have would be to try to take a 2 week break from Reddit and then see how you feel after. You can replace it with educational podcasts and audiobooks on a subject you enjoy. Most people who can take a decently long break find that’s enough to “snap them out” of the addition.

Good luck dude :+1:


#3

Thanks Nik!

I’ve still got a long way to go and a lot of bad habits (mostly internet and attention span related) that I want to resolve, but there has definitely been an improvement.

After 5 days off reddit I felt much more relaxed, however I decided to try it again today and the first post I saw was a political one about American politics and I went down the rabbit hole to quickly see what the new controversy was about. I stopped after a few minutes because in that time I started getting those all too familiar feelings of anger and frustration which in the past have only served to detract from me.

The topic of news in relation to internet addiction is one that is quite close to me, and so I think I’ll write my next post about it after I’ve thought about it some more.


#4

Well it has been a little over a week since I decided to properly start my nosurf journey, and what fun that has been!

I was lucky enough to have a packed first few days, which kept me busy enough to not notice the absence of excessive internet use in my life, but yesterday was my first real challenge, as I was pretty much left with an entire day at home with not much to do. Rain kept me inside for the day, but I also found it incredibly difficult to study, so I ended up watching some tv shows that I had been meaning to watch and did some budgeting to figure out where the heck all my money goes (turns out I spend waaaay to much on food haha). I also did the classic thing of looking into programming guides/free courses which made me laugh when I realised what I was doing. I need to first and foremost focus on my current studies and do well in them, instead of trying to start distributing what I’m wrongfully considering new found time across multiple ‘productive’ endeavours in an attempt to make up for lost time previously spent online. I also have programming in half my courses, so I don’t know why I’m not focusing on those lol. I went to take the whole ‘getting my shit together’ phase slowly and do it properly so that it sticks, instead of trying to rush everything and burning myself out and ending back where I started.

I’ve also begun reading Cal Newport’s ‘Deep Work’, which I’m finding interesting. It’s definitely one of those books where I feel almost enlightened while reading it, as if reading it has given me some sort of magical silver bullet with which to achieve all my dreams and succeed in life. It’s easy to get slightly caught up in that belief and to think that know I will never go back to hours of procrastination and sub par study and work due to being endowed with the ephemeral wisdom of ‘don’t multitask’, but I think it definitely has some good points so far, like don’t switch between tasks often, and don’t check emails/facebook. I’m only 45 pages in, so I should be done by the end of the week, but as with my previous point, I need to actually adopt the habits he talks about into my life where applicable, like in setting up my study environment to avoid distractions, as opposed to imagining some future version of myself who is being rewarded for putting in the hard work which I’m unable to imagine. That’s a common thing I find when I try to fantasise about my future or imagine my dream job - it always involve the benefits of the job (money, travel, free time), and never the actual work/

However the point about checking facebook is something I never really considered, since I always viewed taking 30seconds to read a facebook message as 30 seconds in isolation, as opposed to the minutes on the tail end of it where you can’t properly refocus.


#5

I used to code a lot too so I can relate to some of the things you’re experiencing with learning programming. Idk if you saw but I actually wrote a thread about the issues that people learning new skills on the internet face:

I linked this in the thread which is a good read too:

My advice to you with regards to programming is to just start coding every single day. People spend so much time debating What language? What framework? what IDE? Learn from books? Which book? Or codecademy? and on and on…

Instead I’d recommend just picking a language and committing to learning in it and programming in it everyday for the next 6 months. You can’t really go wrong with Javascript or Python as a noob.
Code everyday for at least 2 hours. Start building things as soon as you can. If you feel lost, I’d reccomend reaching out to people in real life, maybe experienced programmers at your school who can take you under their wing.

I don’t code anymore but I miss it a lot. It’s definitely one of the most rewarding pursuits I ever embarked on. IIRC it took me 2 years where I look back and don’t think I was absolutely shit at writing code (in relation to my peers at university, many kids had been programming since high school) but if I was really focused and dialed in I think I could have done it in one year.


#6

Yea I have read that thread and thought it was a great post! That’s something I’ve definitely tried to stop doing as when I would try to start learning something I would got so bogged down in the specifics in how to add tiny improvements to what I was doing instead of actually just doing the thing, which is the equivalent of spending time researching the optimal keyboard for programming to without having actually practiced programming (to use your example from the post). When I started at the gym I pretty much forced myself to pick a routine and just stick with it until the end fo the year so that I wouldn’t run into any of those problems.

I use R and Python a lot for my courses, but its usually done for statistics, stat simulations, and now some very basic machine learning, but I find the content very interesting so I think I’ll try to a project which extends on what were doing in class so that I can get better at it.

You should pick up programming again if you have time, and just do some fun projects which interest you! That might make it easier with getting back into the habit if you’re just doing it for fun.


#7

Ongoing Bad Surfing Habits
I’ve been finding it quite difficult to not get distracted on my computer for the last few days, be it at my internship or at home while trying to study. I’ve still got the bad habit of going to a website, finding there’s nothing there, closing the webpage, and them immediately opening it again. This often happens where I open my emails, close them, then immediately re open them, and the same with YouTube. I find the YouTube one weird, as I use the distraction free YouTube extension and only ever really visit 2 cooking channels, so I’ll end up just typing in the url and being sent to a blank page with the YouTube search bar at the top and with no videos that I want to watch, so I’ll just close it and then open it again lol.

I guess I did that for such a long time, where I would just jump between sites and refresh constantly in order to keep occupied and not get bored, but it’s kind of crazy to think that I’m just refreshing a page I know won’t change in the hope that I might get some sort of ‘reward’ eventually in the form of new content, so I’m like a gambling addict in that regards.

My second 5 days reddit break ended. It was as good as the first one, and I don’t miss it nearly as much as I thought I would. I started the timer for a third 5 day break after spending close to an hour mindlessly surfing the front page. Like did I not learn anything!?!?!

Politics
Taking a break from reddit has meant an equally long hiatus from the thrilling world of international politics (AKA American Politics). I got almost obsessive about reading American politics mid last year, which has only been negative for me as someone who lives on the opposite side of the world. The political landscape is so incredibly polarized, but also so absurd from an outsider position because of how excessive the corruption, lying, nepotism, racism, sexism, anti-intellectualism, and gas lighting has been since 2017; it’s as if they are trying to satirize the ‘ideals’ which they’ve embodied by taking them beyond their extremes. Everything just seems so fraudulent, illegal, and ultimately unjust in what has happened over the last 2 years, and it is so incredibly easy to just read the news as a way to stoke my negative emotions and get a rise out of me.

I swear the only reason I even kept reading it so much was because I just wanted to witness what I felt was ‘justice’ take place, in the form of people getting arrested, losing elections, investigated, etc. I’d read it not to be informed but to see someone’s downfall and relish on it or get angry at another perceived injustice (and I don’t mean injustice in a light way, especially given the recent supreme court seat). The thing is that everything that happens over there is completely out of my control and has a very minimal effect on me. Spending a 1-2 hours a day on it just made me feel like my life was out of my control in a sense since I can’t influence something which greatly affected me emotionally to occupied more of my thoughts than I’d like to admit.

So after two 5-day stretches of no reddit, I found my life remarkably more relaxed. I didn’t have a constant influx of information, I wasn’t stoking my negative emotions with the prod of American politics, and I wasn’t ignoring other aspects of my life in favor of endless scrolling and refreshing for useless novelty. I wasn’t reading terrible things in the news, I wasn’t bombarded with new information that I couldn’t possibly hope to process, I was simply just doing things in my life that I had control over and could get done.

Hobbies and Time Management
For the past 3 months I’ve been working 4 full days a week, and at university 2 full days, which has, probably for the better, left me with minimal free time. This has been good because the time these commitments have taken up was free anyway, so once they finish up soon I’ll just be left with a huge amount of freedom and few commitments which is very worrying. I’ll either try and request a lot more hours at my current job or see if I can find a second job/internship. The issue is that I hate going through the process of applying to places and getting rejected. It’s much less painful to just leave things as they are, even when I know I shouldn’t, because it avoids having to go through the process of applying to jobs, getting rejected, never getting calls back, walking in and asking for a manager, etc. But I’ll look into what my options are.

In staying busy this semester I realised how limited my time really is. I’ll wake up at 7 get ready, leave for work at 7:45, and get home around 6:15-6:30 (thanks to the lovely 1.5 hours of total commute). I leave for the gym at 8:30-8:45, get back home at around 10-10:15, eat, shower, get ready for bed and then spend the last 25minutes doing meditation and winding down. I pretty much have 2 - 2.5 hours a day to do what I want, including dinner, assignments, study, etc. I’m aware that I could try and find time elsewhere in the day, like during lunch, but thats quite difficult, so managing this hasn’t been easily and I’m lucky I’ve been studying properly on my off days in order to keep up with everything. I’m kind of scared that this is what life will be once I join the workforce as there is so little time for hobbies and keeping on top of all the other shit in life:confused:.


#8

Dealing with Life Without Escapism
I’m not sure if this is common for others, but I sometimes get hit with the feeling that I’m really far behind all of my peers, and that I’m never going to be able to catch up to them. This was always a predictable trigger for excessive internet use because its a really shit feeling which I don’t want to experience, and when I had the option to browse memes until I forgot about those thoughts I’d do that because it was far easier than having to deal with the thoughts, assess their validity, and figure out what to do to address the issue. When I got home today I instinctively went to type in reddit then realised what I was doing and why. I base a lot of my self worth off of my success relative to other people’s, which I know is bad and I’m trying to change how I view success to get over this. My two biggest points of comparison are seeing the amount of friends people have, and their ‘employability’ (grades, work experience, extracurricular involvement) and its the later that got me today.

I finished up at my internship for the day (its my final week) and I just felt really crap about my future. I feel like this was stemming from the combination of the fact that my internship would be ending soon, and with no possibility of continuing on due to its nature, and also that I struggled with the task I had assigned for myself today and felt like I was really shit at the work.

This feeling ended up transitioning into a lot of regret over why I hadn’t done anything else over the last 1.5 years and why I had wasted so much of it online. Another user (who I can’t remember) mentioned that realising how much time you’ve wasted, and alongside that all the foregone opportunities, is a very bitter pill to swallow, and I couldn’t agree more.

It’s been 2 years since I finished Highschool, and it feels like the gap that has formed between people in those 24 months is almost insurmountable, as crazy as that sounds. 2 years is really nothing, and I still have 2 more years to go (which if anything are more important than the first 2), but the headway that some people have made career and education wise is just crazy. I guess this ties into the notion of dealing with lost potential. I felt for a long time that I would be successful (which for me translated into getting a high paying job/ getting rich); I graduated as the dux of my school, got a few scholarships, had previous work experience, and was really excited about my education going forward.
Life got in the way I suppose and I got really depressed for a while in my first semester and ended up changing universities (thankfully), by my grades were only above average, as opposed to being at the top of the class as I previously was. I talked about this previously, but it was very difficult to deal with losing how I defined myself - as someone who was smart. I guess the catch is that I was smart in highschool, not hardworking or disciplined, but smart in highschool doesn’t translate to much in the real world. I don’t want to be part of the “peaked in highschool” crowd.

I can’t really use the internet to run away from these feelings and thoughts anymore but that’s good - that means I have to finally to address them.
So that means that I have to endure some discomfort while I work on developing a life where these feelings aren’t so common or hard hitting.

Long lists are daunting and terribly ineffective for me, so I’ll keep it simple with 2 focus areas over the next 6 weeks.

  1. Find Another Internship - There is an opening for a 2x a week internship with a logistics company which seems very interesting and its in an industry that I’m curious about and is related to one of my majors, so I will apply for this.

  2. Study for Exams and Finish Assignments- Exams are in a few weeks, and I have some big assignments still to do. Getting good grades is important to me and I want to prove to myself that I can do well when I try.

I ended up applying to help as an assistant in junior classes next year. I managed to get my lecturer to recommend me for the spot and they’ve asked for my CV which I’ll send them tomorrow. I’m also going to join a club at university and apply to be a director so that I can get more involved. This journal is titled “building a life outside the internet” and I hope to try and live up to my goal. Part of building that life is coming to terms with my current reality and learning to deal with and recognise my emotions and feelings, which I had numbed with distractions for such a long time.


#9

This is something I can somewhat relate too and I’m sure a lot of people can on here too probably. I was one of those “naturally smart” kids in high school. But as time went on my grades dipped. There was a lot of psychology as well as some environmental matters related to this.

  1. My internet addiction. It’s really hard to excel as a student when you’re wasting a lot of time online. That’s just a simple fact and can be viewed as the foundation growing forward.

  2. My growing lack of mastery, due to missing essential core components in the learning phase while advancing into my education, later material became much harder. Most classes I was in were based on having strong fundamentals. This is very important for STEM majors.

Basically most students in college who do poorly in math actually have bad fundamentals in high school math and don’t have the automatic muscle memory of other skilled students. Likewise with programming. Most kids who struggle in programming classes have bad fundamentals and haven’t practiced as much as other kids.

  1. Not just what to study but “how” you study.

The other component is just not knowing how to study or what they call “learning how to learn”, bad time management, lack of focus while studying.

I actually wrote an essay on this a while ago. If you want to PM me your email address I can send it to you.

  1. The last component which is interesting and not something I mentioned in the essay is the psychology your experiencing right now. Reflecting on your past grades, uncapping with the current state, comparing yourself to your peers and unhappy at how far your left behind.

I think part of why this occurs is a feeling of powerlessness or a lack of knowledge of how to fix it. Because right now your problems seem hefty and insurmountable. But what if I told you that they were trivial and easy? That you could race ahead of your peers quite easily?

That’s the practical approach and it’s good because it’ll serve you well academically and professional. It just comes down to thinking strategically and tactically rather than with the “talented” or “genetically gifted” mindset. Think about how you learn, the strategies you use, repetitive practice, building skills. Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Once these are in place everything in front of you is easy. This is fairly easy to do, just read the right books (Mindset by Dweck, Learning How To Learn by Oakley etc.)

The other approach is what I call the ideal “sage” approach. Mediating, studying philosophy. Learning to master your personal psychology so that you stop comparing yourself to your peers and instead only focus on you and what’s in your power. I call it the ideal approach because while I do think it’s valuable to learn, i think it can take years for the wisdom to fully sink in meaning it’s not fully practical. I stil reccomend investing some time in it because the self awareness you’ll develop will be helpful in your academics as well.


#10

Benefits of No Reddit
Since cutting out reddit I have a lot more free time (I guess I should call it available time, since I’m still meant to be doing stuff during it like assignments haha). I’ve spent a lot of it on doing assignments which I’m glad about, but also reading some journals here (mostly just getting through @Anthymn’s journal which is really exceptionally written and really insightful - I’ve learnt heaps from it about how I interact with the internet and why and her advice is really pertinent ).

I rarely think about reddit anymore and it has kind of just slipped out of my life which I’m surprised about. once my 5 days block is done I’ll do the next for 10 days and see how that goes.

Saturdays I generally don’t get up to much in terms of study, I usually just get home from work and binge some netflix, relax, and go to the gym, but I’ll be doing some stuff with friends this time which will be a much welcomed break and limit the chances of spending too much time online out of boredom. Sunday morning I’m also going for breakfast and a drive with some other friends, so I’m really looking forward to the weekend.

I’m in this stage at the moment as I know that I need to re learn some maths and stats in order to do well in my senior units of maths and statistics. Its an annoying place to be in and is that situation I mentioned in my post where I know I should do it, and I know I will be better off for doing it, but the difficulty and effort that I have to put into it over a few months is just so discouraging - but that’s what needs to be done so I should just get with it. A friend and I are going to learn the MIT courseware intro to programming over our summer break, so that will be good as it will provide a structure, and we’ll be able to motivate and keep each other accountable.

I definitely have a growth mindset, and I’ve witnessed enough people go from mediocre to amazing in school to know that’s its 95% hardwork that gets you somewhere. Learning how to learn would probably be quite beneficial, so I might look into it when I have time. I should probably do it before my exams if anything, but knowing me I probably won’t put anything into practice immediately haha

You seem to have a really positive outlook on learning, which I think I have as well for the most part. I wrote my post when I was feeling a bit down, so it seemed to come off a bit negative since I didn’t really mention much about recent improvements, and in re reading it it definitely sounds a bit dramatic and overly focused on the negatives for a lot of it. I think I should have a new rule that let any post I want to write sit for a day so that I can review it and see if that is how I really feel about it/if it is a good reflection of things, so that I’m not giving an emotionally driven and skewed perspective of my life and progress. Writing it down felt good to get some frustration out, but it feels much easier to write about negative things and get into a cycle of self pity, which I don’t really want. I want this journal to be about growth and moving away from the internet, but also reflectively of what actually happens (the good and the bad), so maybe treating things a bit more objectively will help with this (i.e. what it is, then how I feel about it, as opposed to just saying how I feel about something, which makes it difficult to be objective about it).


#11

First of all, my compliments, this journal is a very pleasant read and I am glad that I found it.

This hits close to home to anybody that grew up with a game console or PC. Like you said, it is an escape mechanism and for me it was a way to deal with the divorce of my parents when I was 12.

I have read through all of your posts, and it feels that I read a journal of my old self. Lots of things felt - maybe a bit too - familiar and I would like to share some thoughts with you. In order to do so I have to think a little bit and find the time to write it, just so you know.

Furthermore, the only good thing - to put your own situation into perspective - is that instead of looking only at the people that are advancing a little quicker in life than you, don’t forget about the people that are falling back compared to you as well. I am a few years older and although are stories are almost similar, for me the gap came later on in university. This made me realize that newer generations will have to fought through these problems at an earlier age and if succesful, have a brighter future ahead of them then the previous early adaptors of the internet.

Take care and good luck with your two tasks!

Edit: I’ll leave you with a quote:

Life’s a marathon, not a sprint


#12

Slow and Steady
Trying to race to catch up to where I’m meant to be, and then subsequently burning out, has been a frequent occurrence in the past with my trying to get my life on track to where I’d like to be. This came in the form of trying to completely overhaul my entire routine to fit in solely productive things, such as dedicating multiple hours to study each day, or blocking out wasteful activities, in the hope that going from one end of the productivity spectrum to the other would allow me to catch up on missed opportunities. I’m mainly referring to the 1.5 years from March 2017-July 2018 (first 3 semesters of uni) as prior to that I was actually very good with school and ok with extracurriculars/work despite the excessive internet time - I suppose having a structure really helps with actually setting time to do work.

As with most people a huge and sudden shift in my life was difficult to keep up, and after a few days I would just slowly start falling back to the internet as relative to the often times difficult and dull slog of going through content and trying to learn new things, it offered unfiltered and endless novelty and distraction with memes and youtube and reddit threads.

My NoSurf journey, although short, has been great so far, and taking it slow is what is helping me keep up with it. Instead of replacing everything I simply said no more reddit, which was the biggest issue, and I’m kinda amazed with what has happened since. With reddit out I was simply left with a lot of time with little to do, and so I turned to my assignments more for 2 reasons:

  1. I actually realised I enjoyed the assignments and content, its just that when you compare that to browsing reddit it will never be as fun because it is difficult and sometimes tedious, so cutting out reddit has made me realise that my course content is actually interesting.
  2. I am no longer just drowning out the voice in my head that tells me that I really need to do something (you know the one that make you feel guilty when you waste time and makes you aware that you’ll really regret your actions in the future).

So instead of trying to overhaul my whole life I’ve just basically remove 1 overall useless website and it has been working wonders. I think that makes it much easier to propose as a lifestyle change for me, because how can someone simply not stop using a website???
That has also made me more aware of other time wasting websites and habits, which I’m trying to resolve (e.g. using breaks between classes to actually get work done vs going online). I still use my phone too much on public transport and sometimes compulsively just open and close my email apps even when I no there is nothing there.

I ended up applying to a couple internship places, so we’ll see how that goes.
Studying fell a bit behind this week due to having quite a bit on, and on Friday (my last day of internship) I ended up browsing reddit for like an hour as the block timer ended, but I’ve put it back on for 10 days which should be fine.

My weekend was also really great. No mindless internet browsing to detract from feelings of boredom and loneliness has also meant I’m much more eager to hang out and organise events with friends. I glad that I’m not too socially awkward so meeting new people is fun, and having a few decent friends who I hang out with and talk with quite regularly helps a lot. Writing this now I definitely feel I was too critical of myself in previous posts and painted a very doom-and-gloom picture of my past/present.

I need to be cautious of using this site to waste time under the pretence of self improvement. I know what I need to do and how to get there, even if I don’t know all the specifics. I don’t need to know everything perfectly, or how to avoid hyper-specific pitfalls, etc. I don’t want to engage in the habit of trying to research everything to add the tiniest marginal benefit before I even start trying something for myself, as I often did in the past. The way to leave compulsive internet usage and addiction behind, and how to develop a life outside of that, is fairly constant for everyone. Knowing the simple key ideas of engaging with hobbies, friends, and work/study, and just making sure to stay away from the internet when it isn’t needed is, at least for me, the cornerstones for developing a life away from my previous excessive browsing habits. It will take a while, maybe a bit shorter, maybe a bit longer than expected, but going slow and doing it right so that it makes a lasting impact is what I’m aiming for.


#13

Less Procrastination
I’m sure everyone who has done/is doing nosurf has experienced the reduced procrastination. Taking out the largest method of procrastination means that I’m actually doing my study and assignments before the night before! No reddit and not having anyone followed on facebook leaves me without much to procrastinate with, so the last 3 day I’ve actually been doing work in my breaks between classes and studying in the time I set for myself, as opposed to doing 15 minutes of light study and 45minutes of browsing reddit. I also just want to say thank god I’ve actually started them ‘early’, because the amount of work I need to do to actually get a good mark in these tasks was deceptively large, and I would not have been able to complete them all 2 days before the are all due.
Also using a bullet journal which i’m happy to get messy is a really beneficial to sticking to a task, and having worked on an assignment makes me feel so much better afterwards because I know my marks will be better for it, and future me will be thankful lol.

Facebook Comparisons
I unfollowed everyone on facebook a while ago when I realised that I would always be comparing myself to them and making myself feel like shit because my life seemed so dull and meaningless in comparison to theirs. I hadn’t done this for a while, but 2 days ago I decided to look up an acquaintance’s profile to see what they were up to and it once again made me feel really bad, so no real change in that department. The whole comparing backstage to highlight reel thing is important here I feel, but sometimes you know that your highlight reel is way less exciting or fun or impressive than other people’s which is depressing in a way, and it definitely doesn’t help if you are already feeling bad already (which is why you were even on facebook in the first place and thought to look someone up :confused:). But the key thing is to focus on the fact that things are getting better! When I compare to a few weeks ago, or months ago, or even a year ago I am in a much better position than I was. I am working hard on improving things and doing what is in my power to make my life better, and making a concerted effort since joining this forum, and I feel I’m already starting to notice a difference alone in how I view myself, as staying away from the self-pitying echo chambers of certain subreddits really does clear your mind of those thoughts.

I was giving the idea of comparing myself to others some thought today, and nosurf came up again and in relation to the greater amount of studying aspect, because even though my life may not be the most exciting or successful, it is moving towards one that is much better than it used to be. Before I didn’t have too much going on, but I also didn’t do exceptionally in uni either (as grades used to be a defining factor for me), but removing excessive internet use means that you can focus on certain things like study and hobbies, and so you evolve from being meh or shit in everything, to being good in a few things and meh and shit in everything else haha, but this is a decent improvement regardless. Hopefully I’m not jinxing myself by talking about grades improving lol, but it does seem like this semester is looking better than previous ones.


#14

Quick Update on Study/Goals

So I ended up joining a society which was one of the things I mentioned earlier.
I’m making myself got to uni everyday so that I don’t procrastinate at home and waste the additional days that I have now that the internship finished. I still procrastinate a bit at uni, but I’m still quite productive and probably get orders of magnitude more work done that at home (which speaks to how little work I get done at home). I also haven’t been home for a full weekday in a long time and would prefer to keep it that way, as staying busy is much more rewarding than doing nothing. I probably got 4.5-5 good hours of work done over 8 hours.

I keep procrastinating doing one of my assignments by doing other easier assignments, which like I mentioned before is a very bad habit of mine. I’ll finish a decent draft of the hard one tonight because so that future me doesn’t have to panic as much in a few days haha.
Apart from that I’m trying to spend more time with friends at university by studying together. It makes study a bit less productive, but also much more enjoyable so :man_shrugging:

I’ll speak with a careers guidance person tomorrow to discuss how to approach looking for more internships, but I have some stuff that I want to learn myself over the holidays if it doesn’t work out. Also I’m thinking of going to japan for a holiday early next year, either alone of with a friend, so I’ll see how that turns out, as I want to do more travelling.


#15

Study Progress
So I’m keeping up with the everyday uni (apart from weekends). Study is also still going quite well. I’m getting into the stride of things, and staying at uni has been great for both getting work done, and being social, as I have a newish friend who I study with quite a lot now. She and her friends are also quite high achieving, which is motivating for making me persevere with study.
My 10 day block of reddit was going to end today, but I extended it for another 10 days. I’m loving not having it, and it has been a great lifestyle change which I’m definitely happy to keep up.
I think my productivity with studying varies quite a bit, and although I’m getting work done (and way more work than I would otherwise) I think I should try get more done at home as well, as I still have quite a lot of content to cover.

I also was extremely thankful to my past self for having done the drafts for my assignments, because that removed so much unneeded stress. Not doing things last minute really is better, who’d have thought!

I did procrastinate over the weekend though with some netflix, but I’m not too fussed by that. Also holiday plans with friends are progressing well.


#16

Progress Report
Study is still going well. I’m enjoying going to uni to study with friends and alone. I even made a new friend who I had an amazing experience of exploring the city for 10 hours with. Not sure if should have done that this close to exams, but I it was a really memorable experience, and I think all the study so far definitely gave me some leeway. I don’t think I would have spoken to her had I not decided to come to uni everyday :slight_smile:

Gym has been crappy this week, as I’ve had work until late 1 day, late study 1 day, and hanging out with the friend until very late 1 day, so only managed to go 2/5 days so far, but I’m happy for that to happen as long as I’m missing it for worthwhile things like that.

Internet time is going down, with still no reddit or desire to go back to it, but facebook messenger time is a weird issue that I’ll have to sort out.


#17

Progress

Life is looking pretty good at the moment. Internet use has been down considerably, study is going well, and friendships/relationships are becoming a lot more ‘meaningful’, or I guess substantive. I spoke with a friend about NoSurf type things today (cutting down phone use, mindless surfing, facebook etc) which was really great, as she is very similar to me in her views and is also cutting down.

Gym has been terrible still. I’m going today after 6 days of barely anything due to other commitments, so I’m super excited for that.

I feel like I should try do weekly posts going forward, as I’ve been very lucky in my recovery in that without reddit I don’t really spend much time online.

My posts have also gotten much shorter as well. I feel like what I needed to say has been said, and I want to leave some distance in what I discuss here and my actual going ons in life.


#18

If getting to the gym is a drag you might want to look into things that keep you fit without you having to go somewhere.

Two things I can recommend are:

Yoga
Bodyweight fitness

The other thing is that you might not be getting to the gym as much because it’s not the most exciting thing to do. I know for me I have a lot more motivation to go play badminton than to go to the gym. You could try signing up for a sport or something on your campus. You can also try recruiting people to go to the gym with you so it’s more of a social activity.


#19

I actually really enjoy going to the gym, but I guess priority-wise I still put socialising and study above it, and I’ve been doing a lot of those 2 recently.
Gym was better over the last few days, but still nothing amazing.

Study + nosurf Update

My first exam is tomorrow. I’m unsure of how I’ll go, is I don’t really know what to expect from it, but I’m hoping I’ll be ok with what I’ve done so far. My exam at the end of this week will be the hardest, so I’ll really have to study properly afterwards, but I’ve started going to a new library which is dead silent and easy to focus in.

No surf has been in a bit of a flux as well. I’ve been good with avoiding useless browsing online, but I’ve procrastinated study with holiday planning and things like that. I’ve watched a little too much netflix at night as well so I want to stop that.

I’ve booked a short holiday, am planning another short one, and am planning a bigger one with friends in a couple months, so that is going well.

I’ve completely fallen out of the meditation habit, so I want to get back into that.

I’ll try give a bigger/more in depth update after my second exam.


#20

Best of luck with both your exams!