I consider myself a success story for NoSurf.
I have been doing NoSurf since Fall, 2016. It’s great to see that there’s a forum now, rather than just a subreddit! Reddit has been blocked on my router for a long time now.
Wifi/router locked with a password only my husband knows. Router has category filtering, and can block specific websites, too.
Xiaomi phone with built-in app lock with a password only my husband knows. All apps except Google Hangouts, email, and Google Photos blocked. Allows me to stay connected without the worry of relapsing.
I make an effort to do everything offline/off a device if possible. I don’t use my phone as a calendar or alarm. I use an actual physical spreadsheet for budgeting, rather than a digital one.
A huge supply of books, DVDs/BDs, CDs (and the MP3s ripped from those CDs). I also play tabletop games, and listen to live radio.
[*]A dog to get me out of the house, and on a regular routine.
It started winter 2015. I had always had a problem with controlling my technology use since I was a child, but this is when it really got out of hand. I couldn’t sleep until dawn every single day, even if I tried. I’d then sleep in until the afternoon. I was unable to make morning appointments, and was constantly late to work. I’ve had hypnopompic hallucinations (hallucinations upon waking up from sleep) ever since I was a child, too, but they became more frequent and more terrifying than ever because of how irregular my sleep schedule was. I saw spiders that’d lunge for me, floating severed fingers covered in blood, and then right towards the end, two episodes of hallucinations of intruders breaking in that I thought were real at first. Those two episodes had me in tears. During the last episode, I ran out the door, tripped, and scraped my knee before I realized it was a hallucination. That’s when I realize, something had to change about my lifestyle.
As a side note, I also had terrifying hypnogognic imagery (this is when you see photorealistic images when you close your eyes and try to fall asleep). This hypnogognic imagery made it even harder to fall asleep, as I was scared to shut my eyes.
At first I thought it was the blue light from my electronic devices, but through trial and error, I realized it was my internet use and video games. I quit social media, video games, streaming, and live TV altogether. I only look things up online in an actual emergency. For unimportant information I use a book, a dictionary, ask a friend, or just ponder what the answer could be, and be content with not being able to find the answer.
It didn’t happen overnight. I had A LOT of relapses. But I learned from every relapse and built my set up stronger and stronger. The longer I do NoSurf, the better I get at it. Old temptations fade. I don’t feel tempted to make a Twitter account, watch a YouTube video, or play a video game in the slightest anymore. They are boring to me. Even if I wanted to re-live the fun times online from the past, I can’t get myself to enjoy them anymore. Lately, when I relapse, if I try to do these things, I immediately stop because I don’t find them interesting anymore. My brain has been rewired by doing NoSurf. However, I still struggle with binging online articles. That is probably my last hurdle.
For over a year, I stopped hallucinating and seeing hypnogognic imagery completely. I slept at a normal time, and actually woke up in the morning. I naturally stopped biting my nails without even trying, because not being on and participating in social media made me less anxious and stressed. I got my life back, and year 2017 was the best year of my life because of how present I was in the offline world.
However, I’ve regressed a bit after I started freelancing online this February. My freelance job required me to be online. I tried my best to do most of my work offline and had NoSurf weekends, but when it came time to do research online for a project, as hard as I tried, I often couldn’t resist binging articles not related to work on the side. Even if I was being good and not binging articles, I was still often online researching for work, and even had to use Discord for work communication, and that was having an affect on me. If it weren’t for my router blocking Reddit and YouTube, I am sure I would’ve fallen into those temptations as well, which would’ve been even worse. We have category filtering, and most news websites and blogs are blocked, but it’s impossible to block everything without creating a whitelist, and it’s impossible to build the perfect whitelist.
Right now as I type this, during my final weeks as I finish up my last projects after quitting my freelancing job, I am going through a relapse. I’ve binged a lot of articles tonight, and joined this forum. Although it’s not as bad as it was back in 2016, I’ve started hallucinating, seeing hypnogognic imagery, staying up really late, and naturally without thinking about it biting my nails again. I’ve realized, because of my internet addiction, I cannot have an online job from home. So I quit. There were other reasons I quit, too. But this was definitely one of them, and I’m looking forward to going back to doing NoSurf 24/7 again. I will be powerwashing my Chromebook once my final projects for work are done, and sticking to just the communication apps I have on my phone.
I consider myself a success story, but NoSurf is a lifelong journey. You climb higher and higher up the mountain, and though you may lose your footing at some points, it doesn’t mean you’ve fallen down the whole mountain. All the progress you’ve made up to that point still matters. So I wanted to share this story while I could, before I get back to climbing that mountain again!