Sunday, January 10, 2010

Quasi-Resolution: Stalk and Kill the Relentless Time-Slurper

Today's "Meaty" post is a bit personal and could be classified as part of a New Year's resolution.

I don't own a television and haven't in over fifteen years. When people ask why, I say that there's so much more to do in life than watch TV.

Sounds lofty, doesn't it? Problem is, the internet munches up my time just as effectively as a television would.

And, like television, it's not that there isn't some fantastic content there--for a writer, the internet may be one of the greatest resources we have. You can learn how the publishing industry works, make contacts and join critique groups, do simple research, and even look up grammar rules.

The problem is knowing where to stop, knowing beyond what point you're wasting your time instead of making an investment in your future. What does Twitter get you, really?

Let me lurch off on a brief tangent. You've probably heard that marijuana isn't addictive, but this is false. THC, the psycho-active ingredient in marijuana, is stored in the body's fat cells. When a person stops using marijuana, their fat cells release the THC gradually, effectively tapering them off the drug so they don't go into withdrawal.

Another indication that THC is addictive--the one that's relevant here--is the fact some people use marijuana compulsively.

I think it's fair to say that, in recent years, I've used the internet compulsively. I wake up, turn on the computer, and check email, blogs, and favourite websites (I can has Lolcats?) I sit down to lunch at my desk and do the same thing. I spend my evenings web-surfing. El Husbando and I joke about how much time we spend in the same room facing different directions because our computers are against opposite walls.

There's so much more to do in life than peruse the internet.

In 2009, I made several attempts to break myself of my internet addiction. First, I installed Leechblock and set limits on the amount of time I spent at certain sites. That didn't work very well after I learned how to turn it off. My personality is such that I get miffed at a machine slapping me away from something I was mentally involved with.

Certain websites I visited regularly were steeped in negativity (is it wrong to detest Perez Hilton when you persist in reading his site?), and I finally decided to give them up. Barring one relapse, I managed to do that.

Web abstinence thus proven to be one of the few effective techniques for me, just before my vacation this past December, I made a new resolution: I would only Twitter, read blogs, and look at my favourite websites once per day.

I could check email as often as I liked, mind you. I could write my blog posts at will. The fun stuff, however? Only once a day.

And since I was chopping out time-wasters, I also forbade myself from playing casual computer games like Minesweeper and Spider Solitaire.

You would think my enforced time away from the internet this December would help me set new habits, but I still find myself wandering toward the computer with the intention to read blogs or play a quick game. I don't think it's wrong for me to classify this as compulsive behaviour. I'm getting better slowly, but I have noted my withdrawal symptoms.

So one of my ever-nebulous resolutions for 2010 is to keep off the sauce, as it were. I'm only allowed to web-surf once a day unless I'm doing research.

Because there's so much more to do in life. Like write books, read books, draw and paint, do chores, talk to all the awesome people I love, go for walks, take up rock climbing again, learn how to make toffee (it was awesome, by the way), teach my orchids to love me once more, enjoy my job, enjoy the weather, etc., etc., etc...

Author website: J. J. DeBenedictis

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