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Addiction to internet/computers

Old 07-02-2014, 07:42 AM
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Addiction to internet/computers

Hi everyone,

I got inspired by another thread yesterday where it was raised how some of us are addicted to the internet, information technology, and the likes. I immediately identified with that and have not been able to get it out of my mind ever since that I should really address this issue of mine somehow. I know it's a sensitive issue nowadays and probably most of us are dependent on these tools to a certain degree at least. I think we need to accept that it's part of our era, and I would not be concerned if it did not cause me problems that I cannot deny no matter how I look at it.

Of course there are many wonderful things about the internet and these technologies and I would not be me if I did not acknowledge the benefits everyday, in so many ways. However, at least for me, it does qualify for a DSM-type addiction, I am pretty convinced about it. I tend to be so hooked on the web and information technology that it causes serious limits in my life - basically more often than not, this competes out my interest in many other areas of life to an extent that I often have a hard time pushing myself to just get out and do things in the 3D world - and I live in a wonderful, very rich environment with so many possibilities and potential activities! And whenever I try to stay away for just hours, I feel seriously uneasy...

So I really would like to address this somehow, but am not sure how to even start a "recovery" from this addiction. Is that even possible? Have others tried to tackle a similar issue? How do we even start - we can't use the same method as for alcohol and drugs as it's not possible to completely cut out these tools. So what remains? Moderation... but how do we achieve that?

OK of course the internet and information technology won't cause serious health issue the same way drugs do... but I do believe they affect our mental health. At least that is definitely the case for me. It's way off balance. I think some of us are more prone to this than others... I know I am, and one obvious way to target this is to focus on physical activities - I do try - but my motivation is off, really.

Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions would be very welcome!
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:50 AM
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Do you time yourself, Haennie?

Another thing I noticed, is the iPad - whilst super convenient....I noticed I have it with me even when watching TV. So now I make a choice. Which activity....TV show, or internet. That helps me to at least break it up a bit.

I've also gone back to books lately. Read for an hour, then maybe go online.
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:55 AM
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I've been thinking about this plenty lately. When someone in my life asks me what I did today, or what have I been doing, I just go "ugh," I spend a LOT of time on the internet. And I feel the addiction deeply. I do learn. There is a subject I can get all sorts of information on regarding my next venture, but I really spend the majority of my time looking at some forums and writing posts. So I tell myself I'm improving my thinking and writing skills. (edit: well, not the majority, it depends. I do actually spend time collecting the info I need for my subject of interest.)

But it's still way too much time on my butt at the keyboard staring at an electronic screen. Bleh!
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:58 AM
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I'm with you, haennie.

The internet especially, and forums in particular. It feeds into my need for controllable social interaction. I know that's a problem and it is a way to have "relationships" that cannot hurt me. I know it doesn't help me with face to face relationships (or does it?), but it is the least painful way for me to interact with people.

On the flip side, I have learned so much from the kind, generous, intelligent people in internet forums over the years. I've overcome a lot of significant personal issues through reading and participating in forums. So, there has been a lot of healing personally for me through internet forums.

I'm really sensitive to judgment and to people who attempt to control me and in real life that seems to be the dominant (no pun intended) relationship style. It gets really old and forums can be clicked off...so there's that. This particular forum is full of compassionate intelligent people; more so than many others, I guess due to the introspection needed to recover from addiction, and codependency.

Then there is the fact that I'm pretty introverted, an only child, and single. It's my default position in life to keep to myself. I think I was born to it, and it suits me. The amount of interaction I get here and in my real life is balanced well - for me.

That said, I used to spend a lot of time on a Cat Forum ( I know... ) and at one time I thought, "This is useless, how many times can I argue against declawing, really?" and it was easy to stop that.

I guess a timer would work, I used to do that with my computer use. Meh, it is what it is. I could have (and have had) way worse addictions. I can quit whenever I want.
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:59 AM
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I'm an old dinosaur. I still have a flip open cell phone. I would disconnect all internet from any devices that you use except for the computer. I would limit myself on the computer by putting my laptop away after I used it for what I needed it for that day. Take it out again, when I need it again. When I see it on the desk opened, it is too convenient for me to just not sit down with it for hours on end.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:09 AM
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I ran a successful page on facebook about politics. When I got sober I was suddenly interested in what politicians had to say about my life. Anyhow, that was nearly 3 years ago. I had to quit it a week ago. I had to drop facebook completely, I had to drop anything having to do with politics. Just about everything I do online involves it somehow so now I am stuck with trying to live without it. It was affecting my health. I have become depressed, I have had migraines for the last 3 months every single day. I went to a doctor who told me I am the most tense person he has ever seen. That was a psychologist who told me this. A freekin' psychologist told me, I was the most tense person he has ever seen. He has been in business over 20 years.

Now what this means is I am now spending way less time online. I'm concentrating more on my recovery and getting more work done in the process. I have started coming here as sort of a substitute and tweeting on a recovery based account but at least these things aren't stressful for me and they are actually beneficial. If I find myself getting stressed over this place or anything I'm doing online, I may have to give up the internet entirely. Luckily I am from a generation that grew up without it. I have been on it in one form or another since the early 90's though and my job counts on it. If it is going to kill me though, I will go get a job doing something, anything that doesn't involve the internet. I think the main thing is to remind myself that I am powerless over people and things, as well as booze. I came to the realization that I am a control freak and the world should act the way I want it to.

Maybe I got a bit off topic here, sorry if I did. I was just thinking about this same thing though. What the heck would I do If I had to give up the internet completely? I think taking technology-free vacations is a good idea. There are some spiritual retreats that I may look into just to get away from all this information.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by haennie View Post
I tend to be so hooked on the web and information technology that it causes serious limits in my life - basically more often than not, this competes out my interest in many other areas of life to an extent that I often have a hard time pushing myself to just get out and do things in the 3D world - and I live in a wonderful, very rich environment with so many possibilities and potential activities! And whenever I try to stay away for just hours, I feel seriously uneasy...
Haennie...great post. I've thought about this subject quite a bit. Through all my college years I was known for popping into used bookstores to search for novel reference books for sale. My piles of texts had page markers, "book marks", post-its, notes in the margins, notes upon notes. The thrill of the chase, essentially. There is nothing like having a great question and seeing where it leads! Hanging out in libraries for hours studying with my highlighters and notepads are to this day one of my favorite activities...and apparently since leaving college this entire activity is a thing of the past? I was never told there was a problem with my book hounding...as long as I slept, ate, interacted with others and showered periodically And I was also not a candidate at the time for an associated pathology...the very thought of pathologizing the pursuit of an answer to a burning question was anathema (love to use this word).

From discussion with others I have heard that the act of searching and reading online is changing the very biology of the way our brains function, pursue and store knowledge. I do not know enough about it...but I am so interested in understanding how what I did years ago in the library is so fundamentally different from how a current college student searches for answers to the very same questions. How does internet searching and reading become pathology? Who determined this and based upon what criteria?

I'm so interested in reading the responses to your post. Thanks Haennia and hope you are well.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:13 AM
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technology is becoming so pervasive that it is likely to become the most rampant addiction we've ever seen.

only a small minority of messaging is even talking about this, but it's real. There are already recovery centers specifically for gaming and internet addiction.

on any streetcorner, schoolbus, college campus, mall or shopping center grounds one can see hordes of people - young and old alike - fixated on the device in their hand rather than the world around them. Very few people are immune to this and it's becoming more and more the 'norm'.

it's frightening, really; how pervasively the 'virtual' world is taking over the 'real' one.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:26 AM
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Ha, side note - LTV, I have been back in the library A LOT lately....it's an old passion of mine that I'm rediscovering and finding comfort in now I'm sober. EVERYONE in the reading room has an electronic device.

I take my iPad in there and download a range of journals, books etc there.

I hope you never wrote in library books. I borrowed one the other day and found myself wishing deep harm to the person who wrote notes all through sections of the book.

My own books at home though, are post it noted to the bejesus.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:40 AM
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I am an information hound. Like letheverte, a question pops in my head and I go chasing the answer. Like freeowl, I wonder why people don't engage with the world around them. I'll admit, I've been on here a lot lately. Hey, I'm quitting again and I need y'all right now.

You want to limit your time online? Put your computer on a stand up desk. No chair/stool allowed.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Croissant View Post
I hope you never wrote in library books. I borrowed one the other day and found myself wishing deep harm to the person who wrote notes all through sections of the book.
Nev-ah! Miss Croissant. My book buying budget is a primary one still to this day The only books I write in are ones that I buy for myself and even then I use a pencil. In college I would buy the books, make correlations and connections in pencil with occasional stars, asterisks, notes in the margins and then go through with my 'Magic Rub' eraser and erase everything before re-selling. Leaving my notes in there just felt like leaving something personal behind. By the same token, I cannot read books that have someone else's notes, underlining or high-lighting in them. If I have to read a book copy with any of that then I have to buy my own brand new copy. Otherwise I spend way to much time having a dead-end conversation in my head with the note-taker instead of focusing on the content.

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Old 07-02-2014, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Croissant View Post
Do you time yourself, Haennie?
I did try that, the only "effect" was for me to realize even more how excessive it is, and then ignore the "lesson" and continue, mostly.

And yeah it's not only computers but iPad, phone, softwares and applications, even coding. So basically all sorts of hardwares and softwares, plus modifying these. I really feel like it's similar to what we do with our bodies and brain using mind altering substances.

As for reading: yes I've always been an avid reader and read books even more now sober - on my Kindle, mainly. I usually don't feel the compulsion to get online while reading a book or article that captivates me, and this is what I do in most of my evenings. This, or recently started stocking up on audio books and going out for long walks listening. These two things (reading and walking while listening to books) do really seem to work for me for those few hours.

I have never been much into television... maybe I should give it a try if only for a distraction? Some of the discussions on here about TV shows did intrigue me... I love movies but I mainly watch them in the theater, not more than 1-2 per week. And lots of documentaries online.

Biminiblue - I relate to most of what you have said. The idea of "controlled interactions" and "controlled relationships" is a really accurate one, I think. I usually don't do many forums in parallel usually, like to focus on one at a time (right now SR), but have been involved in quite a few over time. And many other forms on online interactions, usually subject-focused like what we do here and not conventional social media (I'm usually not interested in diffuse interactions that do not have a defined purpose or substance).

Yes taking technology-free vacations (maybe just weekends even) is indeed a good idea - the challenge is sticking with it.

I also think that perhaps for the older generations that did not grow straight into these technologies, it may be somewhat easier... because our early life experiences define us very significantly. So yes, LTV, these things alter the biological functioning of our brains significantly.

I'm often thinking that what would help a lot is to put a lot of efforts into developing my offline social environment and relationships, as those can be very powerful in affecting us. It's just tricky as nowadays so much of the social interaction is virtual/electronic. Also because I'm a lot like what Biminiblue said - quite an introvert, and that's not an easy thing to overcome constantly.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:57 AM
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Yeah, I don't watch a lot of tv, Haennie, but when I do, it's scheduled.

Originally Posted by LeTheVerte View Post
Nev-ah! Miss Croissant. My book buying budget is a primary one still to this day
Oh good. We can still be friends, then.xxxxx

Originally Posted by LeTheVerte View Post
Otherwise I spend way to much time having a dead-end conversation in my head with the note-taker instead of focusing on the content.
OMG....that's what I did. I forgot how much it irked me, til I started hearing myself starting to berate and name call the person out loud (at home, not in the library, lol), for being such a idiot because their dumb comments were annoying me and they were totally off the mark on their comments.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:58 AM
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I have to say I can how this can be addictive and destructive, but I don't think anyone will ever end up in the ER with an IV in their arm from withdrawals, like I did with alcohol.

Remember the star trek next generation episode where Lt. Barkley was addicted to the holodeck? I see it more like that. I could see how someone could become very isolated and unable to cope with normal social interaction because of excessive use of technology.
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Old 07-02-2014, 09:07 AM
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haennie, I have taken the tack that you have in choosing one forum for a specific issue at a time. I have learned a lot about other peoples' personality traits too. For instance, some people need/like to be coddled and told "Everything is okay, just start again." Some people like tough love, "Cut it out - you'll never get better doing that same thing over and over." In my black and white thinking it is more beneficial to me to be told, "Cut that out." I thrive in environments where there is structure and rules. I should have been a scientist but instead found myself in the helping professions and became frustrated that people didn't play by the rules. Again, more of my control issues and black and white thinking. That's just how I think.

It doesn't serve me very well in inter-personal relationships since many people see life as much more a free-form thing. That works for me in some things - like living alone and being single allows me to be a free spirit, but not in jobs. Jobs (to me) need structure and accountability. I guess relationships do too, but I've yet to find a man who is on board with rules - you know, like call when you're going to be gone for eight hours longer than you said - so I'm single. Easier.

You are from a tech/science background so I think we probably share some of the same frustrations and thought processes.

It's a lifetime project. I am older now, and use this forum quite a bit but not my phone or other technology. The phone is a source of contact or a map/direction assistant and I don't spend time on my browser or in apps. That may be a result of my age, but I just don't need to escape that much - nor do I need to be entertained at all times. I stopped the book of faces years ago and will watch an hour or two of Netflix max every day. In the winter this becomes more, I live in a cool climate. There is plenty to do around my home and in my neighborhood that is entertaining.
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Old 07-02-2014, 09:21 AM
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When I take online classes, I have my husband block certain websites from the house, including and especially SR. I don't have the self-discipline to time myself and set limits. To get my fix, I go every morning to McDonalds and use their 2 hours of free wifi.

Because I have had to tend to my dad's health recently, I have not been in school--plus, my husband is away. He left SR unblocked for a few days; and as a result I've been compulsively scanning and scanning all day and evening!

When he comes home today, I'm going to ask him to block it again.

I'm a quiet only child, too, Bimini. I've always liked to read; but I'm not really fond of fiction. Now I read mainly textbooks. I have friends I spend time with on occasion, and my family is always over to visit; but there is a special bond I have with the gang here that I just don't have with others, no matter how close or well-meaning.

Plus, I express myself 100x better in writing than I do in conversation. I love writing as a medium.
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Old 07-02-2014, 09:46 AM
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Structure - yes I like that in my work, and obviously doing scientific research involves deciphering the "law of nature". But I honestly don't like rules (beyond practical necessity) in the rest of my life. I've always been a free spirited person living according to "my own code" mostly - again, in personal life it's easier but my choice of profession in part is because it allows a great deal of flexibility and independence. More structure, routine, and rules are actually things I'm currently trying to introduce into my life for the sake of staying away from extremes... hard.

As for "rules" in interpersonal relationships - if anything, I'm famous for the opposite - would never want to or try to impose rules on anyone, I hate controlling others, I even struggle with management roles at work but I made a compromise to be able to enjoy the positive aspects of team work and leadership (added experiences and skills, mainly). So for me personal (and interpersonal) freedom is much more important than rules and structure. But that's only me.

Yeah I also tend to feel that I express myself better in writing, but I've realized this is not true and I love in person conversations (where there is substance) just as much and it's one of my strengths, I think. It's just that a lot of my interests involve things that require solo information hunt, and I've learned from a young age to use the internet for that. The negative aspect of this type of info hunt is that we exclude, again, many of the social aspects of information and exploration. It also does not help us develop out emotional intelligence and social skills as efficiently as real world interactions on multiple channels.

Gilmer - that's an interesting way to limit the online time to ask someone else to regulate - unfortunately I doubt it would ever work for me, for the reasons listed above: I just don't like much control in interpersonal relationships. Compromises, yes, but not forcing. But perhaps it's just because I've never tried to live this way??

I think the gazillions of benefits coming from the internet and technology are absolutely real - the question is how to keep it in balance. Again, I think he were are talking about moderation, and that's obviously not a strength of most of us here on this board.
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Old 07-02-2014, 10:01 AM
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my last relationship was with a girl who seemed so lovely on facebook and her texts on my phone were so warm and loving, when we met she was lovely but very quiet, she wouldnt hardly say a word not what i expected judging by how open she was both online and on here phone

after over a year of this with her it came to a point were she would be on her phone texting people all day and night and ignoring me in many instances
i could see that is how she lives her life, she doesnt need a partner who wants to go out and do things with she is happy just locked up in the e - world
i was left to feel very much alone yet i was in a releationship with her so it ended as i would really rather be on my own than be in a relationship that makes me feel like i am alone

but it does make me wonder if this the future for a lot of people ? will people simply stop going out to meet anyone and stay in there homes ?
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Old 07-02-2014, 10:15 AM
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Dee always has some very thoughtful words on this topic. We take him so much for granted, sometimes forgetting that he has a life. As the top poster here at SoberRecovery, I truly hope he finds the time to comment on this thread.

I view so much that people do as destructive. So much of what people do for "fun" involves burning fossil fuels, dominion over nature, and pollution. I am grateful for the time others spend here at SoberRecovery--it truly helps make the world a better place.
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Old 07-02-2014, 10:32 AM
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This thread has really caught my attention, I need to post!! When I was younger I prefered staying in & playing computer games! SNES , sega megadrive etc lol. I must of been allowed to do so as thats mainly what I remember doing! I began becoming "addicted" to the pc , spending time on forums, I went through a stage of making websites & even had a "boyfriend" for a year... How scary...and I continued with some games early teens, I loved The Sims. I spent college sitting on a computer in my lunchbreak rather than mingling. Its no wonder im socially anxious, really. Obviously now I have a smartphone aswell as laptop, ipad etc, and I do abuse it alot.i dont play games or anything but go on facebook and im addicted to google... But it doesnt seem as noticeable now, where everyones doing it, still... I hate to think how many hours I spend a day using the world wide web...i have "social anxiety" and under a mental health team. Ive failed to actually tell them about all this, its so embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as the alcohol problem which by the way im doing very well staying sober can I sober up from internet addiction too!?! Xx
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