For years, I thought that I was “addicted” to the internet. But then I wondered, If that’s true, why do I feel so liberated and relieved every time I disconnect?
Over time I’ve finally realized: I’m not addicted, but I do use the internet as my “filler.” Whenever I’m bored, or I get stuck in my work, or I have a bit of free time, I turn to the internet. It has become an instinct. Waiting in line? Pull out the iPod Touch and see if there’s free wifi around. Can’t figure out the next bit of a story? Check email and Twitter real quick. Boyfriend is watching a baseball game you don’t care about? Hop around the blogosphere to keep up with the latest news and posts.
I think this behavior always seemed okay to me because it’s “productive.” The era of multi-tasking trained me to believe that every waking moment should be put to use. The problem with that is, maximizing my time leaves little room for creativity.
As an only child with parents who worked long hours at their small business, I learned to entertain myself. Each day after school was over, but before my parents were ready for dinner, I built houses out of cardboard, made dolls out of paper, scribbled stories in my notebook. Imagination was my “filler,” writing my addiction.
That’s how this all started, you know?
And that’s what I have to get back to. I need to learn to embrace my boredom again. To endure the quiet times instead of trying to fill them with activity. To redefine productivity as characters and dialogue, not emails and networking.
As part of that, I’ve recently instated a no-internet-between-midnight-and-noon rule. It’s only been a week, but I’m optimistic about my progress. Like with Aisha’s request/suggestion, it’s not the kind of thing that will change me or my life overnight. But I think it’s a step in the right direction.
And if I take enough of those steps, I might actually end up where I want to be.