Quest of Un-Internet Ad Infinitum


#1

Hey everybody!

I recently posted my introduction, and I thought I would make a journal and document progress, thoughts and whatever other random things I feel like. In short, I’m an internet (namely Youtube) addict and I am trying to change my ways. I spend up to 20 hours a day on my computer and it has severely impacted every aspect of my life; in fact the internet is my life. Anyways, I decided recently that I would take measures to rehabilitate my addiction among other things and my first action was installing Cold Turkey, a desktop application that can block sites for set periods of time with no way of reversing it without using a command line. I have also disabled the web browsers on my phone as well as uninstalling all entertainment applications. Social media is not an issue for me, I only have a handful of close friends.

So far all of this has helped me spend little to no time on the sites that I frequent the most, namely Youtube. Since the change I haven’t accessed Youtube at all which is great. However, I noticed that even without all of my favorite websites I will still find something to do on my computer. I’ve been on my computer since I woke up even though I can’t access most sites. I will find myself googling about health, looking through research papers, and browsing through random forums. I can say that my time on my computer has gotten more educational, but it hasn’t decreased. It’s definitely less exciting, but I have nothing else to do right now.

The reason for this is because I woke up at 10pm (my sleep schedule is incredibly fucked), and I have been awake all throughout the night. There’s nothing to do at night except be on my computer, so my first order of business is definitely fixing my sleep schedule. If I’m awake during the day then I will have the option to be active, go out places, talk to my friends, etc. Right now I’m starting to feel tired and I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the rest of the day without falling asleep. I normally stay awake for 24 hours a couple days a week, but that’s only because I can keep my mind busy with Youtube. Since I’m tired, I have zero energy or motivation to go and do things now that it’s day time. I might re-enable Youtube on my phone to help me get through today, I don’t know.

However, I do have a plan for how I’m going to maintain my sleep schedule while also killing two birds with one stone. There’s this wonderful app, and I can’t recommend it enough to people who are heavy sleepers or frequent snoozers. It’s called Alarmy (it’s for android by the way), and it allows you to set alarms that are obnoxiously loud with multiple settings for how to turn them off. You can set it so you have to shake the phone for a set amount of times, solve math problems, but the most genius one of them all: Barcode/QR code. You scan a barcode or QR code, and then when the alarm goes off the only way of turning it off is to scan the code again. The possibilities are endless. I have used this feature in the past and it has saved my ass so many times. Just take an item from the opposite end of your house, scan the barcode, and when your alarm goes off in the morning, you are forced to walk across your whole house to turn it off. There’s really no way of accidentally sleeping in. I haven’t used it for a while now because I don’t have any daily obligations, but I’m going to start again.

Anyways, what I have done is set my tube of toothpaste as the code this time. I have had trouble over the years brushing my teeth on a consistent and regular basis. My teeth look fine, but I have had more fillings than I can count on two hands. So when I wake up to my alarm I am forced to go to my bathroom and I am immediately reminded to brush my teeth, floss, and use mouthwash. I also set the same alarm, except at night time! So hopefully this will result in both a better sleep schedule, and better dental health. Once my sleep schedule is fixed, hopefully getting more time away from my computer will be easier, and a consistent schedule will make this consistently easier.

I think what I have learned so far in my first day of my journey is that addictions and bad habits are multi-faceted and have to be approached from different and less-aparent angles. For example, many studies have proven that the number one contributing factor to drug addiction is actually just a lack of family and friends, specifically ones that are close and supportive. It’s not obvious that a bad sleep schedule can contribute to more internet use, but when you think about it… there’s not a whole lot else to do at night but be on your phone, TV, or computer. It’s hard to be productive at 3 in the morning, and staying up for long hours leaves you with little energy or drive to do anything. This was especially true for when I was a kid. Back then, if I was awake during the day then I could go over to my friends house, go play basketball, ride bikes, whatever; but if I was up late at night, then I was most likely on my computer. The majority of my computer use growing up would occur between 8pm-8am (I’ve always had bad sleep habits by the way).

I think my two biggest roadblocks I forsee in relation to fixing my sleep schedule will be the fact that all my friends are night-owls who go to bed at 2 to 5 in the morning, and that I normally stay up for long hours and sleep for long hours… I can’t remember the last time I only slept for 6 hours, normally I sleep for at least 10, and at most 16. I know that sounds insane, but severe depression is a hell of a thing. I think I can deal with my friends, they will definitely try to pressure me into staying up but I’m an expert at telling them off; and if they know that its for a healthier Sean then they will understand, they know just how much I need to get better. On the other hand, I think I will allow myself to get more sleep if I go to bed earlier. My morning alarm will always go off at the same time, but I have a choice of when I go to sleep. I don’t need to wake up early, so 10am seems pretty fair to me. That way if I go to bed at midnight I will get my 10 hours, but I can go to bed earlier and sleep for longer if I like. If I choose to go to sleep later than midnight, then I have to suffer the consequences.

Hopefully my plans moving forward work out. I have no clue how I’m going to stay awake for another 12 hours today… I was hoping that writing this journal post would bide some time for me. I think it’s important to write things down, they feel so much more concrete and meaningful that way. It also helps that people read these things so I feel more obligated to stick to it. I am a painfully honest person and I can’t bring myself to lie and say that I have done what I was supposed to if I haven’t, so this will be a good thing for me to continue doing. Sorry if I write so much. Hopefully some of my thoughts and random information might be helpful to you, especially that app Alarmy, it’s really a wonderful tool if you sleep in a lot. Technology isn’t all bad, you just have to make it work for you, not the other way around.


#2

Great idea!

I agree, sleep is super important. It doesn’t always seem that way, but it effects everything else you’re trying to implement. I would recommend a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. It has a lot of great information about building and breaking habits. And I think he has numerous articles about habits on his website as well. I listened to the audiobook recently.

Good luck man, you can do this!


#3

One reader named Daniel told me, “I jump out of bed every morning without any hesitation. The reason? The only way to turn off my alarm is to scan a QR Code I keep in the bathroom. This worked wonders for me.”

I looked him up and followed a link to an article, and come to find out someone has the exact same idea. Absolutely crazy.

I would just like to add that a lot of the advice in the article I’ve already been doing to break and form habits so far, and they really do work.


#4

What I believe could be a good thing to try for you would be to progressively increase the time between waking up and using your phone or PC. The problem seems to be that sitting down in front of the PC is the default behaviour and having to suffer through a delay before it could help you form a different default habit or routine.


#5

So, it’s been a week since I started taking my internet use seriously and there has been many realizations and modifications to my original plan or idea of what it was that I was going to do. So far, I honestly have not spent that much less time on my computer, but I think that at this stage that is sort of to be expected. What is important, is that I have managed to cut down from 10 hours a day on Youtube to just 2 and a half that I spend on my phone mostly before bed. Given this, the time spent on my computer and throughout the day has been much different and notably much more social. Yesterday was the last day of the block, and I watched like 6 hours of Youtube and spent less time talking to friends so that will go right back on another ban.

I decided that when starting this that I would leave one game on my computer that all my friends play, League of Legends. I decided this because my friends always ask me to play but I would often say no and just watch Youtube instead. I would also be asked to join discord and talk with everybody, but after 10 minutes I would just mute/deafen myself and watch Youtube. Since I haven’t been able to access Youtube on my desktop I have been talking with others in the discord for several hours a day and playing games with them and I think it has made me a lot happier as of recent. Also, when you talk to friends more often you run into more situations where you decide to physically do something or go somewhere so I find that I get away from my computer more often.

Another good note, is that I’ve been sleeping better and even this morning despite going to bed at 2am, I woke up at 8am. This normally only happens if I slept well, and this is confirmed by the fact I didn’t wake up with any soreness; most notably my jaw is usually sore in the mornings due to my TMJ and bruxism, and I didn’t wake up with any of that. No light shining through the window, no alarm, just my body deciding that I got enough sleep and needed to wake up. Hopefully I experience this more often. I’ve also been very good about respecting the time and telling my friends that I’m going to sleep, as well as immediately getting into my bed right after. Hopefully I continue that as well.

On slightly bad note depending on how you look at it, I have been smoking weed almost every day this week from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. It’s actually not weed, but an oil concentrate pen. This is important to note because these are much easier to dose from and its as simple as vaping with similar absence of smell, meaning there isn’t really as much holding me back from smoking and thus I do it much more often. Being high all day has it’s drawbacks such as being noticeably less motivated and aware. However, I think this is partially linked with my better sleep. I find that if I smoke early in the morning, then I am much more tired at night and fall asleep much quicker as well as sleeping better. I am also just in a generally better mood overall and I find that I eat less throughout the day when I’m high, so all in all this isn’t really a negative to me right now. If I can get myself to only smoke in the morning and not re-dose throughout the day then I think this could be a positive thing. Weed has some great benefits for my mood, but it goes away when you abuse it for too long. I find weed makes me happy at first but if I continue to keep smoking I eventually just become a bit of a vegetable. It’s hard to find a balance here.

Some good news is that on Wednesday, I walked for an hour uphill then downhill in freezing weather with snow all over the ground, and on Thursday walked for 7 miles in the same conditions. I walked at a brisk pace the whole way through and by the time I was done I was so sore that I took two Aleve, a muscle relaxer that I have for my jaw (which was acting up that day) and hopped right into an ice bath for 10 minutes. As soon as that was over I hopped right in bed and passed out for 16 hours (those muscle relaxers make you sleep forever.) I got a blood blister on my toe which is still healing and I was incredibly sore for three days, but I will probably go on another walk this week with hopefully better recovery.

My plan is to work my way up to being able to run again and do it consistently. I could run for a couple miles right now, but I would likely get very sore and it wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience for me. I learned in the past that when you get back into exercise after years of neglecting your body, you have to take things slow. As of right now I could probably bench 90% of what I could when I was in highschool, but I would also probably hurt my muscles horribly and be unable to exercise for two weeks. With that being said, it’s not as fun to walk instead of running. I love running and the high you get from it is much greater than walking, but I know I can’t do it consistently yet so it’s not worth trying to do if I am to be serious about being consistent. I think this is why I have repeatedly failed over the last couple years. I kept trying to run before I could walk and inevitably tripping and face-planting so to speak. It’s also important that I don’t make excuses that the weather isn’t nice enough to go for a walk. I see men and women in their 50’s running outside when it’s below freezing every year. There’s no excuse that I can’t do the same.

On another tangent, I really need to get a better office chair. I thought it was amazing when I first bought my executive-style office chair, but over time I have realized these are horrible for you back as they are all naturally slouched. I need to get a ergonomic chair that is straight-backed so when I lean back I am still sitting upright. My friend has a “racing chair” that I sit in sometimes and I noticed that despite being notably less comfortable in materials, it’s straight back and lumbar support makes up for that tremendously. If you have an ‘executive’ office chair then I suggest you buy an ergonomic chair, and if you’re ever in the market for an office chair that you buy ergonomic. Your back will thank you.

Other than all of that, everything is roughly the same as it has been. My main goal right now is to improve things that I’ve deemed are directly or partially related to what enables bad computer habits. I will probably always use my computer but I need to be more productive and do things that make me happier, and not shut myself out from the world and taking a trip to fantasy land for hours on end.

The sun is shining today… I feel good. Maybe I’ll go for another walk. :grin:

In a reply to horatio’s last post, I don’t think that my main goal is to separate myself from my computer right now. I could try and separate myself from my computer but if I have nothing to replace that time with then it’s really no better. I’ve also found that when I have things in my life like a job, a relationship, friend gatherings, etc, I naturally spend less time on my computer and get zero ‘withdrawal’ from it. There were periods where I spent less than an hour on Youtube a day in this past year, but I wasn’t even consciously doing it; I just had better things to do. I’m currently trying to get healthy again so I don’t burn myself out of those better things to do, because that seems to be the trend: I start working again and being physical feels great but then I hurt myself or run out of mental willpower to continue and inevitably end up right back at my computer for 15 hours a day. You can get a heroin addict to quit heroin but if they’re still jobless and living on the streets around all their heroin-addict buddies then they’re going to relapse 100% of the time.

As always thanks for reading this if you have, hopefully some of the things I’ve brought up here are useful to you in some way. Feel free to reply if you wish to do so.


#6

I want to reply just to let you know that I read your whole post. It sounds good that you had a series of realizations of what’s going on inside your head.

What troubles me is your usage of weed. While you say that it does good things for your mood I would wager that you would be better off long-term stopping to use it. It still is a psychoactive drug and does things with you that make you not really being yourself long-term.

Keep us posted. I like to read your updates.